Since so many of our kits come with a ferro rod I thought it would be helpful to provide a short how-to-guide for proper use. Our straps use a ferro toggle (with two lanyards holes that we run the paracord weave thru), our key sets use large ferro rods with a single eyelet to run the cable thru, and patch kits use a thin ferro rod small enough to fit inside the morale patch. All these firestarters are coded with a black sealant to protect from oxidation. The coating must be scrapes off to expose the silver colored composite which actually produces the spark to make a fire. The idea to provide a simple tools for creating emergency fires.
So what is a ferro rod? Ferrocerium is a man-made metallic material that produces sparks in excess of 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit when it's scraped with a rough surface or a sharp edge. The makeup varies by manufacturer, but is typically 50 percent cerium, 19 percent iron, 25 percent lanthanum, with small amounts of praseodymium, neodymium, & magnesium.
Tinder ideas and tips. The ferro shavings themselves can aid in a better ignition if you use slow scrapes to create dust/chips in a nice pile of tinder. The tinder can be pine needles, napkin pieces, plant fibers, gasoline, shavings from fatwood, jute rope fibers, cotton balls coat in Vaseline, bird nests, hair, Cattail seed down, dryer lint, charcloth, inner tree bark, shredded strips of duct tape, fine strands of steel wool, or even the tinder wick that is included in many of our kits. Create nest of tinder, have kindling and fuel logs at the ready. Be sure you have a safe area to create a fire that won’t spread or endanger others.
Find a good scraper. You can use a hacksaw blade, razor blade, knife, commercial scraper/striker, p38, a key, a sharp rock, etc. The best option is a steel knife with a 90 degree edge. If your using a ferro rod you are either practicing, surviving, demoing, or a bushcraft poser with no common sense. A bic lighter is about the best EDC and survival Firestarter you can find. Don’t be a goofball and try to start a fire with a ferro rod when you it’s not survival situation. If you have a lighter use or, sure if you have fun using a ferro do, then go for it. I won’t judge. My point is, people always fuss when seeing someone use knife as a scraper because it “dulls” the edge. If its freezing and I’m wet and need a fire, staying warm and alive is more important to me than slowly dulling my knife edge out over time.
Now grab your ferro rod! It’s common practice to hold the ferro rod in your non-dominant hand and to hold the scrape in your dominant hand. With this method you would angle your scrape and deliver a quick strike across the surface of the Firestarter directing the spark into you bundle of tinder. With practice this can be done in a strike or two. Don’t fret if it takes you 10 strikes, practice makes perfect. The issue with this method is chance of your scrape hitting your tinder bundle and ruining your nice collection of tinder. The alternative is to hold the rod next to the tinder at about a 45 degree angle and then put the scraper on top of the rod and pull the rod backwards away from the tinder. The scraper remains still. This works just as well and won’t mess up your tinder.
That’s it for now. I’d love you feedback. Let me know what you think.