Tips For Using a Ferro Rod Fire Starter
Kevin Felts 10.25.17
At first appearance, a ferro rod may seem like flint; struck against iron or steel they both produce a spark. Ferro rods are made from Ferrocerium, which is a synthetic material, while flint is a naturally-occurring material.
In a previous article we talked about the basics of starting a fire. It is common knowledge that fire needs three things:
- Ignition point
However, for the ignition point to ignite the fuel, the two have to be within a certain ratio of each other. You can not walk up to an oak tree, hold a match to the oak tree, and expect the tree to catch on fire. But if there were a forest fire, the tree would catch on fire.
Even though sparks from a ferro rod can reach several thousand degrees, the ignition point is still only a spark. As such, the fuel will have to be a fine material.
Dyer lint works well. So, when thinking about what kind of fuel is needed to start a fire with a ferro rod, think about material as fine as dryer lint.
Dried grass works well, if it is ground very fine. Rub the grass between your hands or rub it with a rock under it is ground up into small pieces.
Hand sanitizer can be used to help start a fire. Add some hand sanitizer to some dried grass or other fine material.
I have never had very much luck using pine straw with a ferro rod.
Sticks and twigs–maybe, if they are doused in hand sanitizer or some other form of alcohol.
Using the Ferro Rod
Numerous pictures depict the ferro rod being held above the fuel, and the striker moving across the ferro rod. This is incorrect.
Hold the striker against the fuel, and move the rod across the striker. The striker should not move. The goal is to get the sparks as close to the fuel as possible, without the striking action disturbing the fuel.
Ferro Rod Sizes
There are numerous sizes of ferro rods, from a half-inch in diameter and three inches long, to something that will attach to a key ring.
From my experience, the longer the better. The longer the ferro rod, the more sparks will be created when the striker and the rod are struck together.
This is not to say short ferro rods are useless, but the shorter the rod, the fewer sparks you will get.
One of the key ways to become proficient with a ferro rod and striker is to practice. Get different types of fuel and practice building a fire over and over until you become proficient.
Know which types of fuel will work, and which types will not.
Practice mixing different types of fuel together, grinding them up, and starting them on fire with a ferro rod.
Do this over and over in a controlled environment, such as your backyard, until you feel you are ready to test your skills on a trip.