5 EASY STEPS TO USING A FERRO ROD FOR FIRE STARTING
A ferrocerium rod fire starter, or Ferro rod, is one of the most popular survival tools on the market because it can be used to start fires in any weather and can be used to light hundreds of fires before needing to be replaced. This makes it an ideal addition to any bug out bag or survival kit, as well as to your everyday carry items if you’re always heading out into the great outdoors and want to be prepared for anything that nature may throw at you. Fortunately, using a Ferro rod is simple and only requires a few easy steps, which we will cover in this guide, The most complicated part is that the ferrocerium rod is just a small part of getting a fire to start, one of the most critical parts is also the tinder bundle, which we also cover below.
What is a Ferro Rod Fire Starter
Ferrocerium, also known as a Ferro rod or in German mischmetal, is a mixture containing cerium, lanthanum, iron, praseodymium, neodymium, and magnesium. When ferrocerium is struck by a hard and sharp object, such as a carbon steel blade, tiny shavings are oxidized and ignited by the friction of the striker and burn at 3,000°C/5,430°F. This mixture was commonly used in lighters and hence called mischmetal. Ferrocerium may also be called by other similar names such as misch metal, mischmetal, and "Flint" (though this is a common misconception). Another common misconception about striking a Ferro rod is that you need to use high carbon steel to do it, this is untrue you just need an edged material that is harder than the Ferro rod. Other materials that work are ceramic, glass, and coarse grades of sandpaper. A piece of a broken toilet (ceramic) or perhaps a beer bottle bottom (glass) can do the trick in a pinch. Coarse sandpaper is composed of bits of carborundum grit that are in effect a collection of mini sharp stones, however, typically high carbon steel is a fantastic option to throw a good spark.
How to Gather Tinder from Natural Sources
Lint from dryer vents, or carefully removed from clothing (like cotton socks), paper products, and toilet paper tubes are all good materials that are very common. pine needles, dried grass, and leaves, dried moss, and dead decaying "Punky" wood all are excellent natural sources for tinder, but you'll need to make any of it into a "bird’s nest" before striking it with your steel. Making a bird’s nest is literally rolling your tinder into a ball, then lightly pulling apart a center portion to "catch" your sparks in and hopefully ignite. Actual birds nests can work in an emergency as well, as they use all the natural materials above. There is also many types of fire starting aides and tinder material available to help with this.
Using Magnesium as a Fire Starting Aide
Magnesium is a very popular fire-starting material, as it is very effective and offers an even more intense flame than that of ferrocerium. The process of using magnesium as an ignition material is a simple process: Your magnesium (grey, not coated with black like your ferrocerium) needs to be scraped off the larger block it is located on. Gather your tinder material (magnesium offers a short, very hot flame) and after gathering your tinder, scrape a small pile of magnesium (usually about the size of a pea if you can) onto your tinder. Once you expose the ferrocerium sparks to it, then it will ignite as a bright burst of flame. If you expose tinder to that flame, it should easily catch and hold a flame. Magnesium is a fantastic fire starting aide.
Proper Ferro Rod Striking Form
Using a Ferro rod is often done in reverse order. Many people push their striker forward, spraying sparks in all directions, and often disturbing their tinder. If you keep your striker stationary and pull your Ferro rod back, your sparks will be much easier to control and direct, and your risk of disturbing your tinder is lower.
1.Place your ferrocerium rod almost directly on top of your tinder.
2. Place your striker on top of your ferro rod, towards the back.
3. While maintaining downward pressure on your Ferro rod with your striker, pull your Ferro rod back, keeping the striker stationary and using it to control the sparks direction.
this is the proper form for striking a Ferro rod and will usually produce much more efficient results with less chance of ruining or disturbing your tinder. remember, a Ferro rod provides sparks, it does not create a fire, that's up to you. You may need to blow lightly, yet consistently to feed oxygen onto your tinder bundle to help it ignite.
Best Fire Starting Materials
A fire kit is always important when camping, hiking, or for survival, but it’s essential if you’re venturing into remote areas. You never know when you might be stuck out there with little or no backup. It’s therefore crucial that you carry at least three different methods of starting fires, so in case one goes wrong, the weather turns, or you’re just having bad luck, you can fall back on another. A common combination is a ferrocerium rod, a magnifier card, and matches/lighter. The magnifier never runs out, yet it takes patience, the ferrocerium rod provides sparks, yet no flame and it has a hard time lighting wet tinder, and the lighter/matches produce a flame and fire quickly yet be consumed quickly as well. Each of these methods has a stand-out strength, as well as an obvious drawback, because the ferrocerium rod sits right in the middle, producing showers of hot sparks for thousands of strikes, it makes it a very popular choice.
HERE is a great fire starting kit to get you started!