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senior member (68)senior membersenior member
06/15/2017 11:44AM
I was looking at a new fixed blade knife recently and I keep coming across ones that come with Fire Sticks/Ferro Rods. My question is are these effective at starting fires? What are the pros or cons of getting a fire stick/ferro rod? I prefer matches for most situations or even a butane lighter.
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senior member (95)senior membersenior member
06/15/2017 01:55PM
ferre rods are nice for lighting camp stoves and sturdy back up for wet matches , if you have some tinder. same the pricy all weather uco matches for later.
Savage Voyageur
distinguished member(13066)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished membermaster membermaster member
06/15/2017 02:32PM
There are some combo knife fire starters out there. I would suggest that you get a good carbon steel full tang knife with a sharp square edge on the top. Then get a ferrocerium rod that is 1/2 inch thick. This combo will give you plenty of sparks to start a fire in one strike. Most of the fire rods out there are only 1/4 inch thick. Just go online and you can find them. To answer your question, yes they work great if you know how to use them. Most people use them wrong. They start a few inches away and strike sparks with the sharp scraper that go everywhere and cool off by the time they land. The correct way is to leave the striker mashed into the tinder and pull the rod away to generate sparks. This way you get a 5400 deg spark concentrated right where you need it. One strike and you have fire very easily. Keep one of these in your ditch kit. Throw any of your lighters in a lake and it will be some time to dry it out before you can get fire. Throw a ferrocerium rod in a lake and you can pick it out and strike a spark. Everyone should have one of these in thier pocket when out in the woods, because unlike a lighter that will break or run out of fuel, a rod will give you 1000s of fires.
senior member (68)senior membersenior member
06/15/2017 02:54PM
Okay I'll look into the 1/2" ferro rods then. Thanks for that info. I'd probably have used one wrong too. As for those weather proof matches: you're right they are super expensive.
distinguished member (414)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
06/15/2017 04:44PM
I think the most commonly used "modern" tinder for ferro rods is a cotton ball that has been smeared with Vaseline petroleum jelly. The idea is to coat the outside with a fairly good amount of PJ while keeping the inside of the ball PJ free and dry. Then when its time to start a fire you tear the ball apart - inverting it inside out so the dry - easy to catch a spark - fibers are outside and the PJ coated fibers are inside. Setup this way it catches the spark real well and burns for quite a while - like a candle.

I've usually put the cotton balls in a ziplok bag, put in a glob of PJ, and mix it up. Then must leave the mix in the bag for storage (squeezing out air).

The PJ can also be a source for chapped lip relief. :-)

Light My Fire has been popular brand of ferro rod for some years, but it looks like other brands are starting to drill through the rod itself and skip the plastic handle.

Personally, I like having a dedicated scraper blade with my ferro rod, rather than using a knife - especially a good knife. Its the ferro material that sparks - not the steel. Matter of fact I've read that sharp glass can even generate a spark on a ferro rod, but I've never actually tried it.

Most just bring a decent disposable lighter - or two - and use the ferro rods as a backup.
distinguished member(632)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
06/15/2017 05:03PM
I carried this for the first time this past May. It worked well.
distinguished member(1431)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
06/15/2017 05:21PM
There are no con's to having a ferro stick - it is an awesome piece of survival gear right up there with a knife. For years I kept an old one I got in Boy Scouts back in the 70's in the bottom of my food pack or barrel as back up. This winter I made a new sheath for my mora knife and added a rod holder on the back. For every day fires I just reach in my pocket for a cheap Bic lighter, but always have several stashes of matches and the good old fire stick in case everything else is soaked.
distinguished member (300)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
06/15/2017 08:28PM
Our pfds have a small bag of the Vaseline cotton balls and a ferro rod in them, each rod has a striker attached. You can buy them cheap on eBay. I have a large one attached to my knife sheath.
senior member (68)senior membersenior member
06/15/2017 08:58PM
quote Mickeal: "I carried this for the first time this past May. It worked well. "

This stuff is great.
06/15/2017 09:05PM
I use a ferro rod regularly, but do not like to use it with a knife. Too many possible accidents. Instead I use a striker, fire steel stiker. Saves fingers and damage to my blades. Works better also.

senior member (56)senior membersenior member
06/20/2017 05:08PM
any brands of the fero sticks being used out there with good results?? Also how to they compare to the traditional magnesium fire starters? Do they work similar with the scrape then spark and burn? I had read a couple reviews that they are only "coated metal rods" an to "stay away from certain ones" any truth to that?
06/20/2017 05:46PM
Not all fire steels are the same. Here's where I've purchased mine.

Butthead is right on too regarding using a scraper designed specifically for fire steels. You'll get much better results and have more control than with a knife.

EDIT: Just clicked on Butthead's link and it's the same company! LOL
06/20/2017 07:59PM, makes a bunch including magnesium/ferro rod combos.
Been using these for many years a shown on the small ones, yet they do give off great sparks, really like the small ones and toss em in with stoves. Personally never needed or used a magnesium stick.

06/21/2017 09:07AM
+1 on the white petroleum jelly covered cotton ball to go with the rod. If you don't have or can't make the right tinder, the rod will not work.
senior member (89)senior membersenior member
06/21/2017 09:22AM
I like cotton pads dipped in paraffin. It's waterproof and a lot less messy. Just rip the pad in half before using to expose the inner fibers. I have never had trouble getting one of these lit with a ferro rod.
distinguished member (124)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
06/21/2017 10:20AM
Lots of great advice here. Best I can give is to practice with them. If the time came where they were your last resort to getting a fire going that you NEEDED, that surely isn't the time to be fumbling around.
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