Flint vs Obsidian: Which Is Stronger (or Weaker)?

Flint vs obsidian.

Which is stronger?

In this blog post, we are going to take an in-depth look at both flint and obsidian to determine which one is stronger. 

Flint vs Obsidian (EXPLAINED)

What is Flint?

Flint is a very hard, sedimentary rock that is a form of microcrystalline quartz.

It is often called “chert” by geologists.

Usually, flint forms as nodules in sedimentary rocks such as marine limestones or even chalk.

More often than not, these nodules are concentrated in distinct layers.

However, they can sometimes be dispersed at random throughout the rock.

How to Identify Flint

Knowing how to identify flint can be very helpful, especially when you’re in the wild.

Whether you’re looking for a beautiful artifact or a way to start a fire, it isn’t as hard as you would think to identify flint.

To identify flint, look for rocks that are either dark gray or black in color.

Flint may be smooth or rounded, especially if it has been found embedded in limestone or chalk.

However, it can also be split into what may look like broken shards of glass.

If you want to be sure that you’ve found flint, strike it against a piece of carbon steel to see if it throws a spark.

Where to Find Flint

Knowing how to identify flint is one thing, but knowing where to find it is another.

There are some places where flint naturally occurs.

Though in other areas, it is not as abundant.

Here are some tips to help you know where flint occurs:

  • Where there are gravel roads
  • Alongside riverbeds and lakeshores
  • Where oceans once existed
  • At construction sites

Flint as a Construction Material

Where there is a lot of flint, it will often be used as a construction material.

This is because of how durable it is. It also resists weather better than any other natural stone.

You will often see flint in walls, larger buildings, and homes in southern England and most parts of Europe.

They can be partially or entirely built with flint as a facing stone.

Flint as a Source of Fire

Another important property of flint is its ability to create fire.

When flint is struck against steel, it generates sparks to create fire.

People who are skilled are able to use flint and a piece of steel to quickly start a fire.

With some of the first firearms, like flintlocks, there was a piece of flint attached to a spring-loaded hammer.

When the trigger was pulled, it would release and create a shower of sparks that ignited a small pan of powder.

It would then propel a ball down the barrel.

What is Obsidian?

Obsidian is known as an igneous rock.

It forms when molten rock material rapidly cools.

During this process, atoms find themselves unable to arrange into a crystalline structure.

The result of this process is a volcanic glass with a uniform and smooth texture, or obsidian.

How to Identify Obsidian

There are many other stones that can look like obsidian when polished well.

That is why it is so important to be able to identify it correctly.

While a professional can easily identify it under a microscope, it can be confusing to identify it with the naked eye.

Here are some things you should know when looking to identify obsidian:

  • You should first know about the texture of obsidian. It is essentially volcanic glass. This means it should be smooth to the touch.
  • Due to the way obsidian forms, it has a distinctive and shiny appearance. It is glass-like.
  • Pure obsidian is usually very dark due to the presence of iron and magnesium. Though it can also be tan, brown, and green. On very rare occasions, it can be orange, yellow, red, blue, or even white.
  • If you hold your obsidian up to sunlight, real obsidian should appear translucent when sunlight shines through.

Where to Find Obsidian

There are many places within the United States where obsidian can be found.

Now that you understand the variations of it and how to identify obsidian, you will find it far easier to locate obsidian.

The mountainous regions within the western United States have a lengthy history of volcanism which creates obsidian deposits.

Collecting samples of obsidian is quite simple because it breaks easily.

Make sure you bring a strong bag as obsidian can be quite heavy.

Obsidian as a Cutting Tool

Obsidian breaks into pieces with curved surfaces.

This is because of conchoidal fracturing that can cause sharp edges.

These fragments are thought to have prompted the first human use of obsidian.

At first, obsidian was used as a reliable tool for cutting.

People then learned how to make the obsidian break in certain ways to create sharp tools of different shapes.

It was used to make scrapers, arrowheads, knives, and even spear points.

It then became the most common tool for cutting things.

Obsidian in Modern Surgery

While using a rock as a cutting tool might sound unsanitary or old school, obsidian still plays a vital role in modern surgery.

Sometimes, obsidian can create a cutting edge that is far thinner and sharper than the best surgical steel available.

Even today, thin blades made of obsidian are placed in the surgical scalpels used in precise surgery.

Studies were also performed that found obsidian blades equal to, or even more superior than surgical steel.

The Similarities Between Flint and Obsidian

Here are some of the similarities between flint and obsidian.

Flint and obsidian are:

  • Quite strong
  • Water-resistant
  • Durable
  • Come in a variety of different colors
  • Scratch resistant
  • Used as decorative aggregates
  • Used for interior decoration
  • Used for garden decoration
  • Prone to conchoidal fracturing
  • Heat resistant
  • Impact resistant

The Differences Between Flint and Obsidian

Here are some of the differences between flint and obsidian.

  • Flint is a sedimentary rock while obsidian is igneous
  • Flint is a hard rock, while obsidian is only medium-hard
  • Flint is rough, while obsidian is glassy
  • Flint is stain-resistant, obsidian is not
  • Flint is wind resistant, obsidian is not
  • Flint is glassy, obsidian is shiny
  • Flint is highly porous, obsidian is not
  • Flint is pressure-resistant, obsidian is not
  • Flint is wear-resistant, obsidian is not

The Bottom Line

After thoroughly researching both stones, we have come to the conclusion that flint is far stronger than obsidian.

Flint is tougher and stronger, while obsidian is sharper.

flint vs obsidian