TINDER (O. Eng. tyndre, from lindan, lendan, to kindle, cf. Dan. louder, Ger. anzilnderi) , a term applied to any dry substance that will readily take light from a spark and so be used for kindling a fire. Before the invention of matches (see MATCH) fire or light was procured by the ignition of tinder through sparks obtained by the striking of flint against steel, the whole apparatus of tinder, flint and steel being contained in a metal box, which was an essential utensil of all households and was also carried on the person of everyone who might require a light in an emergency. The usual material of " tinder " was a mass of charred linen, but the term was also applied to " touchwood," or wood converted into an easily ignitible consistency by the action of certain fungi. Another form of " tinder " was " touchpaper," paper dipped in nitre and used as a slow-match for igniting gunpowder. In both these words " touch " stands for an earlier tach, tache or tasshe, tinder, of which the origin is unknown. It may be related to Du. tak, bough, twig, and would thus mean dried twigs used as tinder.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)