Taking Inventory: Flint
Sedimentary, my dear Watson!
When you’re digging along the piles of gravel that line the shores of Minecraft’s most beautiful lakes, you might occasionally find something unusual – something sharp, crystalline, and in great demand among fletcher villagers. It’s our item of the week – flint.
Flint was added to Minecraft in 2010 during the indev phase of the game’s development, and was originally only used to craft flint and steel. During alpha, a second recipe was added that allows you to create arrows with flint, and then in the most recent game update it got a texture update.
You’ll acquire most of your flint from digging around in gravel, but in a pinch it’s also sometimes possible to grab some from village fletcher chests. Just make sure you replace it later, as they’ve got a livelihood to sustain y’know.
If you’ve acquired lots of flint, you might decide to embark on a career as a fletcher yourself. You’ll need flint to make a fletching table, as well as arrows. But arrows require feathers, so you’ll want to set yourself up with a chicken farm too. SQUAWK.
If you somehow feel like making arrows is beneath you, you can sell flint to fletchers in varying quantities in exchange for emeralds, and then trade those emeralds right back for arrows. But honestly, unless you’ve got chests and chests of flint, it’s much simpler and cheaper to make arrows yourself.
Real-world flint is a type of quartz, which occurs pretty commonly in sedimentary rocks like chalk and limestone. When broken, its edges can be very hard and sharp, making it great for tools – early humans knew this and ran with it. This was a bad idea, because everyone knows you shouldn’t run with sharp objects. No wonder humans died out before they achieved much.
The other nifty thing that real-world flint does is make sparks when struck against steel. It’s kinda nifty how this happens – the hard edge of the flint shaves off a particle of the steel to expose iron, which reacts with oxygen in the air, generating enough heat to start a fire. Before steel came along, it was common to use pyrite – better known as “fool’s gold”, for the same purpose.
In Minecraft, we also have flint and steel – but that’s a story for another Taking Inventory. Stay sharp for that!