The description of a tinderbox is as so:

This small container holds flint, fire steel, and tinder (usually dry cloth soaked in light oil) used to kindle a fire. Using it to light a torch - or anything else with abundant, exposed fuel - takes an action. Lighting any other fire takes 1 minute.

Emphasis mine.

So it's quite clear that it takes an action to light something like a torch, or fire arrows or whatever. Looking at videos online using a firesteel isn't the easiest of tasks:


So the question is, in D&D 5e is using a Firesteel a two handed job, or can you do it whilst weilding a bow or a sword?

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ Are your players attempting to light fires while fighting or something? Is this for flaming arrows? \$\endgroup\$ Feb 12, 2018 at 19:55
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Show me that you can do it with one hand, and I allow it as one-handed action... (you may even use a match and a matchbox instead) \$\endgroup\$
    – Aganju
    Feb 12, 2018 at 23:11

1 Answer 1


The rules do not specify if the flint and steel takes 1 or 2 hands so it is the DM's decision

There are no rules beyond what is described in the entry you quoted. So, when there is something unclear in the rules, it falls to the DM to make a determination in how they want to handle it.

In real life, it certainly takes two hands to use traditional flint and steel

As the link you provide indicates, using flint and steel is indeed a two-handed and often involved process. Though it is one with which your PCs are likely very good at performing.

If you wanted to use real life as the model for your ruling then the best option would be to say that it does indeed take two hands to use a flint and steel.

Regarding holding weapons, they probably would not be able to unless they were using the sword as a steel or rigged up something specifically.

Lighting fires is rarely interesting story-wise so don't worry about the mechanics if you don't have to!

For the most part, it is just assumed that adventurers are capable if not very good at lighting fires. So, under normal circumstances, it doesn't seem super interesting to focus on and track the minutia involved in starting campfires and the like.

As a DM you can make your life easier and your story more interesting by skipping some of this stuff.

If you prefer to do this at your table, or if the characters are in a circumstance that does make it interesting, then use my suggestion above.


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