How long a ferro rod will last depends on the size of the rod, the quality of the composition (softer rods typically don’t last a long) and the usage of the rod. A larger rod will generally last much longer than a smaller rod.
A larger rod with a quality composition (at least 20.8% iron and 41.% cerium) and very little usage will typically last much longer than a rod of the same size with poor composition or high-quality composition and high usage.
When choosing a brand one must think about what it will be used for and the durability needed for the job needing to be accomplished. An individual who camps out periodically may not need a high quality or a larger rod because their usage would be low, leading to the rod lasting longer. In contrast, an outdoor enthusiast who frequently needs to start fires will want to opt for a larger, higher quality rod (at least 20.8% iron and 53% cerium) to meet the demands that frequent usage of the rod will bring.
Rods hardened with iron oxide and magnesium oxide tend to create hotter sparks and higher temperature outputs in regards to the fire produced. Check out our article “What’s the Difference Between Ferrocerium and Magnesium?” for more about this.
Lower quality rods can be identified not only by their lack of iron and cerium but also their texture.
The best ferro rods tend to be hard in texture making it easy to produce a spark when struck against a rough surface, while low-quality rods are soft and require more strikes to achieve the spark necessary to start a burn.