Monday, 6 February 2017

3 Handy Tips for Ferrocerium Rods

Ferrocerium rods are a favourite fire starter among many outdoor and survival enthusiasts. 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 ferrocerium recipe varies by manufacturer, but it’s generally 50 percent cerium, 25 percent lanthanum, and 19 percent iron, with small amounts of praseodymium, neodymium, and magnesium. The most common use of this material is as the flint in cigarette lighters. And while a butane lighter may work best in most fire-starting situations, a “Ferro rod” makes a great back-up. Here are three things to keep in mind when using a Ferro rod to start a fire.

Pick The Best Tinder: It might seem odd to use natural plant fuzz as tinder, but it is truly one of your best choices for getting a flame started, and works as well as cotton balls or dryer lint. These fibrous and fluffy materials of botanical origin are the perfect fuel to allow the sparks to “stick” and begin burning. Cattail seed down, goldenrod fluff, and milkweed down are among my favourites to use. Just collect a little bit when it’s dry, and store it in a water-tight container for use in fire starting.

Move The Rod, Not The Scraper: Rather than pushing the scraper against the rod toward your tinder, pull the rod across the scraper toward yourself. You’ll still provide a hot shower of sparks, but avoid knocking your tinder all over the place with your follow-through.

In The Deep Cold: Can’t get your butane lighter to work at 10F? That’s because butane will begin to gel once temperatures get into the teens. If the butane gels, you may be able to warm it up by placing it inside your clothing for a while. Or you could just move to your ferrocerium rod, which is unaffected by temperature extremes, and even works when wet.

How do you use your Ferro rods? Let me know your method by leaving a comment.


  1. Hi Lom Gom,

    Thanks for another great article.

    As a newcomer to Bushcraft, I was lucky enough to stumble accross your website before I had spent too much money on “bushcraft kit” ( but, unfortunately, not before buying a relatively expensive knife!) So, the rest of my limited kit is just stuff I had from years of rambling, my sons old Dof E stuff and a folding pruning saw I found in my shed.

    As a beginner, there are two things I now never leave the house without; my pocket guide to identifying British trees and a couple of coffee bags (like teabags, only with fresh coffee in them,) both of which I would highly recommend to anyone.

    I’m pleased to say, that after some pretty tense negotiations with my wife, I have put the money I’ve saved not buying “kit” towards a Bushcraft Essentials Course in the new year.

    1. Thank you for your kind words, As you are probably aware I am not a huge fan of too much kit as I do not believe that is what bushcraft is all about