Ferro Rod Facts
This remarkable alloy — invented in 1903 by the Austrian Chemist, Carl Auer von Welsbach — is a combination of iron and cerium.
von Welsbach discovered that when you mix iron (Ferrum) with cerium, the result is a rapidly oxidizing alloy called Ferrocerium.
The resulting alloy produces a spectacular metal that provides a sure-fire method for creating a shower of sparks, in any, even the most treacherous situations.
Five Stunning Ferro Rod Facts
ONE: A Ferro Rod produces more heat than any other striker with an overwhelmingly hot spark of over 5000 ℉ That’s hot! With the Ferro Rod generating that much heat, it’s sure to light a fire in even the worst weather situation.
TWO: Ferro rods are more brittle than flint stones; thus they produce a bigger array of sparks. The hardness of a Ferro rod is around five on the Mohs hardness scale. This makes it easy to scrape the rod and make a rain of hot molten metal pour down upon your tinder, char cloth or fatwood.
THREE: Ferrocerium is a pyrophoric alloy. This means it oxidizes very rapidly and generates lots of heat and sparks. Other fire striking devices aren’t as capable of producing sparks under any and every condition.
FOUR: Ferro rods are compact and lightweight. They average anywhere from 3 inches on upwards to 6 inches. This small size makes carrying a Ferro rod easy and convenient.
FIVE: Ferro rods last a long time. It doesn’t take a lot for a Ferro rod to spark. Many rods claim to have hundreds of thousands of possible strikes on just a 3-inch rod giving you piece of mind that you’ll be able to start a fire for a long time to come.
Yes Size Matters
When purchasing your Ferro rod, make sure to consider the size of the rod you need. Is a 3-inch rod too small for you? Can you comfortably and efficiently make good strikes with that length or will a larger one work better? Most people find that a larger rod is much easier to use effectively.
Some Ferro rods come with a magnesium block attached. (Note: When using magnesium be sure to scrape the magnesium onto the tinder you intend to light before striking your rod.)
Make sure your rod is clean before use. Many have clear coats or chemicals to prevent them from sparking while shipping. If you are having trouble getting yours to spark, try cleaning the rod before striking it again. You can use nail polish remover or an alcohol based cleaner to clean it. Also, when storing your Ferro rod, be sure to keep it out of water or extremely humid places. This will help in not corroding and damaging your rod. Note: coating your rod in oil can seal it and prevent pitting.
Also, when storing your Ferro rod, be sure to keep it out of water or extremely humid places. This will help prevent corrosion that will damage your rod. Note: coating your rod in oil can seal it and prevent pitting.
Another thing to consider is your striker. You will need a good striker to get your Ferro rod to spark effectively. You will want a striker that is jagged, and that will break off lots of minuscule pieces from the Ferro Rod. Using a knife blade can work as well, but you risk damaging your knife.
A miniature hacksaw blade, or piece from and old larger blade, is an excellent striker, and packing one with your Ferro rod will also provide you with another cutting tool in your kit.
Ferro Rod Vs. Bic Lighter
Okay, now that we’ve talked about Ferro rods, I feel like I have to mention that there is something of a Ferro rod vs. Bic lighter debate. So here are my thoughts concerning this debate.
Bic lighters are user-friendly. In an emergency situation, you will probably remember how and be able to use one. They are also mechanical. Meaning it has moving parts that work together in a system. While this is convenient while at home or abroad, will it work in the woods or more importantly in a cold emergency situation?
Next, there is the fuel to consider. Now I couldn’t find documentation stating that Bic uses butane for their lighters, but I have found tests stating that chemical testing proved this to be so.
The reason I mention this is because butanes boiling point is 32 degrees Fahrenheit. In freezing temperatures, a vacuum starts to form inside the container, and with a Bic lighter being as small as it is, it won’t take much of a vacuum for the device to be overwhelmed and not deliver the much-needed gas for the spark to ignite.
Take note, that it’s not even sub-freezing temperatures that can cause a lighter to breakdown. It’s exactly freezing temperatures. And while the flint on the lighter can still strike and make sparks, it’s not nearly as hot as that of a Ferro Rod.
Now, keep in mind that I’m not bashing Bic for making a product inferior to a Ferro rod in harsh weather, I’m merely stating the natural tendencies of butane and its relationship to lighters. There are multiple accounts of mountaineers using Bic lighters successfully even when temperatures were well below freezing.
The point I’m trying to make is that if you are planning on making a Bic lighter your primary source of fire for your EDC or BOB, I would suggest carrying a couple of lighters just to be safe.
Also if you do use them, make sure to store them in a warm place that’s not too cold. This will increase their ability to light in harsh weather situations.
In conclusion, I recommend that you carry a couple of Ferro rods and a couple of Bic lighters, in your BOB, EDC, and vehicle.
Both are excellent methods for starting fires. However, don’t just assume that your equipment will work, just because you have it. Make sure you know how to use your equipment properly and effectively BEFORE you need to use it. Practice at home until you are comfortable and confident that you can start a fire using your equipment every time.
So what about you? Do you have or use a Ferro Rod? Have you had any trouble or problems with yours? I would love to hear from you. Join the discussion in the comments below.
Press on my friends!