Date Published: 2021-08-18

The Ferro Rod: Catch The Spark


The Ferro Rod: Catch The Spark

By Adelia Ladson

What Is A Ferrocerium Rod?

Ferrocerium, usually shortened to “ferro”, is a synthetic alloy of iron and the rare-earth element cerium. It was created by an Austrian chemist in 1903. When the alloy is struck, exposing fragments to the oxygen in the air, it will spark. You will find ferro pieces in pocket lighters, strikers for gas welding and in ferro rods, which are most often found as a firestarter in survival kits.

What Is The Difference Between Ferro And Flint?

Ferrocerium and flint are not the same thing and have no chemical relationship to each other. Flint is a form of the mineral quartz, which occurs naturally in sedimentary rocks. A flint produces sparks when it strikes iron particles from steel, igniting the steel particles. The flint isn’t burning, whereas, in a ferro rod ignition system, the ferrocerium particles are what’s catching fire. Many people mistakenly call the spark source in pocket lighters, flint, but they are actually pieces of ferrocerium.

Why Is A Ferro Rod A Must-Have?

When you are facing a survival situation, whether it’s bugging out after SHTF, getting lost while hiking or breaking down on the road in the winter, being able to start a fire is on of the keys to survival. Not only does a fire provide warmth and light but it also gives you a way to boil and purify drinking water, cook food, signal help and deter unwanted animals. This being said, you should always have a firestarter in your bug-out bag, backpack and vehicle emergency bag. To me, a simple ferro rod is the way to go because it will ignite under the most adverse conditions, and you can strike it with the back of your survival knife or any piece of metal with an edge. You can rely on it to work every time as opposed to relying on matches, a pocket lighter or electronic lighters, which can all fail you.

How Do you Start A Fire With A Ferro Rod?

Take the ferro rod firmly in your hand and scrape down it with your striker (the edged metal tool) with quick long strokes. Once you’ve gotten the hang of producing sparks, you’re ready to build your fire. To build a fire, you need three things: tinder, kindling and wood. Tinder is any material that’s easy to ignite like dry grass, pine needles or cattail fluff. If you can find an empty bird’s nest, this makes the best “tinder nest”, which is what you want to form your tinder into. Kindling is small pieces of twigs, leaves and sticks and wood is going to be the larger pieces like branches and logs. Once you have all the things that you need to build your fire, use your ferro rod to strike sparks into your tinder nest, then when the tinder catches, use your kindling to feed the small flames. Be careful not to smother the flames by piling the kindling on top. You need to add it slowly, allowing the flames to increase in size. Then, add your larger pieces of wood until you have a sufficient size fire going. You need to make sure that you have enough wood collected to keep the fire going for as long as you need it.

Some Recommendations

Here are some ferro rod firestarters that I like because of their ease of carry, and I have included a couple of knives that come with firestarters.

Trailblazer Firestarter Necklace

The Trailblazer Firestarter Necklace is at the top of my list for ferro rod firestarters. There’s no excuse not to have a firestarter when you’re hiking, camping or bugging-out because all you have to do is just drop it around your neck. You’ll have all the tools you need on the adjustable paracord necklace. Attached is a 1” long rod of ferrocerium and a stainless steel, serrated ring scraper. It will ignite a shower of sparks at any altitude and in any weather condition – rain, snow or fall-out.

Micro Sparkwheel Firestarter

Basically, the same concept as a pocket lighter, the Micro Sparkwheel Firestarter creates a spark by flicking the ridged wheel, which strikes the tiny ferro piece. The handle has a solid brass construction and the tension spring on the wheel is adjustable. It come with three replacement ferro pieces and a waterproof tube for carry. As easy as flicking a pocket lighter, the Micro Sparkwheel will light a fire in no time.

Black Legion Pocket Knife With Firestarter

I love the Black Legion Pocket Knife With Firestarter because it’s a great compact tactical tool. The assisted opening pocket knife is completely non-reflective black from its razor-sharp stainless steel blade to its tough ABS handle. The ferro rod fits into the handle and easily pulls out for use. Integrated into the handle, you also get an emergency whistle and there’s a pocket clip for ease of carry. Like I said, this is a great tactical tool.

Schrade Frontier Extreme Survival Knife

For something with a larger blade, I like the Schrade Frontier Extreme Survival Knife as a tactical tool. The fixed blade knife also comes in non-reflective black from blade to handle. The 1095 carbon steel blade is full-tang and the grippy handle is rubberized TPE. The ferro rod and metal striker are hung on a paracord lanyard and can be stored in a pocket of the included belt sheath. The sheath has a tough nylon construction, and a sharpening stone also comes housed in the sheath’s pocket.

Final Word On Firestarters

Whether you choose a ferro rod or some other way to create a spark, you need to have a firestarter! Bottom line. You’re not prepared, if you don’t have one. Such a simple tool could be the difference between surviving and not surviving.


Shop All Fire Starters Here

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