How to Use a Ferro Rod (The Right Way) To Start A Fire
Learning how to use a Ferro rod, also known as a Ferrocerium 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).
What Is A Ferro Rod?
A Ferro Rod (Ferrocerium Rod) is a fire starter tool used by campers, survivalists and other outdoor enthusiasts to quickly start a fire. A Ferro rod looks like a small steel rod, which is probably why some people refer to them as “fire steel”. Ferrocerium is a man-made metallic alloy that provides a chemical composition capable of burning at 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit (or hotter) when scraped with a rough edge like a rock, or a sharp edge like a knife. Ferro rods work without lighter fluid, and can start a fire even when wet.
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 a chemical reaction 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 reaction 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 of starting a ferro rod fire is like using flint and steel, but with an important difference. Flint and steel produce a spark of about 200 degrees F. 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, which make them a perfect for everyday carry survival kits.
When you’re ready to build your ferro rod fire, start by clearing enough protected surface area to contain the fire. Then gather material, starting with tinder to catch the first hot metal shards. This can be anything that will ignite quickly. With the use of our "State of Maine" tinder shredder you can quickly create your own wood fiber for the initail starting "nest". If you’re collecting on the spot, consider pine needles, plant fibers, bird nests, hair, shredded strips of duct tape, and even fine strands of steel wool.
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) while pushing the scraper forward with a quick and firm motion (creating good metal to metal friction).
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!