Learning how to use a Ferro rod to start a fire is like learning to use any other survival gear. It’s better to learn the process now than wait until you actually need it to save your bacon (or cook it).
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What Is A Ferro Rod?
A Ferro Rod (short for Ferrocerium Rod) is a fire starter tool used campers, survivalists and other outdoor enthusiasts to quickly start a fire… it works without lighter fluid, and it works even when wet. A Ferro rod looks like a small steel rod, which is probably why some people refer to them as “fire steel”.
What Is A Ferro Rod Made Of?
Ferro rods are made of ferrocerium, a man-made alloy and are basically waterproof matches. The formula varies, but usually includes iron, cerium and magnesium.
The combination creates sparks when the ferrocerium rod (firesteel) is scraped with a rough surface or a sharp edge. And it works under cold, wet, windy conditions that would defeat matches or a lighter.
Some Ferro rods come with strikers. Almost any sharp-edged item will do, even a rock. But you’ll get the most consistent sparks from a hard steel object, like the spine of a knife blade.
(Because Ferro rods contain iron, they’re often coated to prevent oxidation. You’ll need to scrape away the coating to expose shiny metal before first use.)
The process is like using flint and steel, but with an important difference. Flint and steel produce a spark of about 800 degrees F.
Better quality Ferro rods can produce a spark of 3000 degrees or hotter. That’s roughly 30% hotter than a blast furnace and almost 70% hotter than the hottest molten lava.
A Ferro Rod Expands Your Options
That extra heat can make a big difference when you’re lost or cold and hungry.
When you know how to use a Ferro rod, you gain a wider range of potential tinder, because the rod will ignite material you can’t light with other tools. And the Ferro rod will be more forgiving of bad luck or inexperience.
When you’re ready to build your fire, start by clearing enough protected surface area to contain the fire.
Then gather material, starting with tinder to catch the first sparks. This can be anything that will ignite quickly. If you’re collecting on the spot, consider pine needles, plant fibers, bird nests, hair, shredded strips of duct tape, even fine strands of steel wool. In this video I show you how the Everstryke Match with the built in ferro rod is a great cotton ball fire starter with just a little vaseline and a single spark.
Commercial products are also available, from resin-rich fatwood to manufactured firestarters made of compressed sawdust and paraffin. You can also make your own from materials around the house like dryer lint or cotton balls soaked in Vaseline.
Whatever your tinder and kindling, you should also collect pieces of wood of various sizes from fairly fine, dry twigs to larger pieces that will burn longer. You’ll add these to the fire gradually as it becomes more stable.
How to Use A Ferro Rod
It’s important to use the proper technique when starting a fire with a ferro rod:
- Hold the ferro rod close to the tinder at about a 45-degree angle.
- Place the scraper near the top of the rod (so it makes solid contact with the rod).
- Pull the rod back (away from the tinder) with a slow and steady motion.
Tip: Many people will hold the ferro rod next to the tinder and rub the scraper toward the tinder. By pulling the rod back (instead of rubbing the scraper forward) you’ll create a spark at the same place. But you’ll do it without risking bumping the scraper into your pile of tinder and scattering it all over the place.
Learning how to master the use of a ferro rod as a survival fire starter technique is a survival skill that can save your life in an emergency situation, even if your matches are wet… or your lighter runs out of fluid… which is why a ferro rod is a must-have survival tool!
Free Ferro Rod
The original Everstryke Perma-Match has a built-in Ferro Rod and striker, and it’s free…