• Home
  • >
  • Survival
  • >
  • The Ferro Rod: The Ultimate Reusable Firestarter

The Ferro Rod: The Ultimate Reusable Firestarter

Last Updated: July 12, 2023

A ferro rod is considered essential for a survival pack because it provides a reliable method for starting a fire, which is crucial for survival in many emergency situations. In a survival scenario, fire can be used to provide warmth, cook food, purify water, and signal for help. A ferro rod is a durable and lightweight tool that can easily be carried in a survival pack and can start hundreds, if not thousands of fires.

Additionally, a ferro rod can be used in various weather conditions, including rain or snow, making it an essential tool for any survivalist or outdoor enthusiast. Overall, a ferro rod is a valuable and versatile tool that provides a reliable means of starting a fire in an emergency situation, which is why it is often recommended for inclusion in a survival pack.

Choose the Right Ferro Rod

Choose a ferro rod with the right length and width. The longer and wider the rod, the easier it will be to create sparks. However, consider the portability of the rod if you plan to carry it with you.

While the recipe for ferrocerium rods typically includes cerium, lanthanum, and iron, the specific composition can vary depending on the manufacturer. Cheaper ferro rods may contain lower amounts of cerium or other metals, which can affect their performance and durability.

That being said, with enough practice, even a cheaper ferro rod can be effective for starting a fire. However, it is important to note that investing in a higher-quality ferro rod can increase your chances of success, particularly in more challenging weather conditions or when using less-than-ideal materials for kindling.

Ultimately, the decision to invest in a higher-quality ferro rod may depend on your specific needs and intended use. If you are a casual camper or hiker, a cheaper ferro rod may suffice. However, if you plan to rely on your ferro rod frequently or in more extreme situations, a higher-quality option may be worth the investment.

The length and width of a ferro rod can also impact its effectiveness when starting a fire. As mentioned, the longer the rod, the more contact time you will have when using it, which can increase your chances of successfully starting a fire. Similarly, a wider rod will provide more surface area for sparks to fly off, making it easier to ignite your kindling.

Scrape the Black Coating

When you receive a ferro rod, you may notice that it has a black coating on it. This coating is typically applied to prevent rust or corrosion during shipping and storage. However, in order to use the ferro rod effectively, you will need to scrape off some of this coating.

To remove the coating, you can use a knife, scraper, or other sharp tool to scrape away a small section of the black material, revealing the shiny surface underneath. You don’t need to remove all of the coating, just enough to expose a small area of the ferrocerium material.

Once you have exposed a small section of the ferrocerium material, you can use the rod to create sparks by sliding a striker or other sharp object along the exposed section of the rod. With practice, you should be able to produce a shower of sparks that can be used to ignite your kindling and start a fire.

It’s important to note that the black coating on a ferro rod is not toxic, but it is recommended that you avoid inhaling the dust or debris created when scraping it off. Additionally, you should take care to store your ferro rod in a dry, protected location to prevent rust or corrosion over time.

Just be sure to use caution when using these alternatives, as they may not provide as much control as a purpose-made striker. Additionally, using these alternatives may damage the ferro rod over time.

Prepare Your Materials & Tinder

Gather dry materials to use as kindling, such as dry leaves, twigs, or paper. Make sure they are easily flammable and readily available. If possible, use small pieces of wood as well.

If you’re planning to use a ferro rod as a fire starter, it’s important to keep in mind that it will only produce sparks, not flames. This means that starting a fire with a ferro rod can be tricky, as the sparks need to land on very dry and fluffy tinder in order to ignite it.

While cotton balls with petroleum jelly are often recommended as tinder for ferro rods, they may not always be the most practical option. In fact, if you have cotton balls with you, it’s likely that you also have spare matches or a lighter.

Instead, you can try using toilet paper, fluff from plants, dry grass “birds nests,” or feather sticks as tinder for your ferro rod. However, these options may not always produce a full flame or may take a while to catch on fire.

To increase your chances of starting a fire with a ferro rod, it’s best to use a combination of these tinder types. Create a “birds nest” of dry grass on the ground and top it with plant fluff and a feather stick. Use your ferro rod to rain sparks down on the configuration, which will ignite the feather stick and then your kindling.

Alternatively, you can use a char cloth, which is made from 100% cotton that has been turned into charcoal. Charcoal ignites easily and produces a hot ember, making it an even more effective method of starting a fire with a ferro rod. Check out our post on how to make char cloth for easy-to-follow instructions.

One thing to add is that you can also use natural materials like birch bark, dried leaves, or pine needles as tinder for a ferro rod. These materials are often readily available in the wilderness and can be a great option if you don’t have any cotton balls or dry grass. Additionally, if you’re in a wet environment, it’s important to find dry tinder. You can try to find dead branches or twigs that are under trees or in areas that are protected from the rain.

Find a Good Spot

Look for a safe and dry area to start your fire.

Avoid areas with overhanging branches or dry grass, as these can quickly catch fire and spread.

Hold the Ferro Rod and Striker

Hold the ferro rod with your non-dominant hand and the striker with your dominant hand.

Position the striker perpendicular to the ferro rod, with the sharp edge facing down.

Create Sparks

Press the striker firmly against the ferro rod, and slide it quickly and firmly down the rod towards the kindling.

The sparks will fly off the rod and land on the kindling, igniting it.

Build Your Fire

Once the kindling is burning, add more small pieces of wood to build your fire.

Gradually add larger pieces of wood as the fire grows stronger.

Keep the Fire Going

Keep the fire going by adding fuel, oxygen, and maintaining the flames. Use the fire for warmth, cooking food, or boiling water for purification.

Remember, starting a fire with a ferro rod takes practice. Keep practicing until you feel confident with your technique, and always practice fire safety.


In conclusion, a ferro rod can be a highly reliable and versatile tool for starting fires in various outdoor situations. With the right technique and proper tinder, a ferro rod can produce sparks that can ignite a fire even in challenging weather conditions. From camping and hiking to survival situations, a ferro rod can be used thousands of times and can be a valuable addition to any outdoor enthusiast’s gear. So, if you’re planning your next adventure, make sure to include a ferro rod in your kit, and remember to practice your fire-starting skills beforehand to ensure success when it matters most.

In any case, it’s a good idea to practice with the striker you plan on using before you find yourself in an emergency situation. This way, you can ensure that you’re comfortable with using it and that it provides the necessary control to make sparks.

If you are just starting out and looking to hone your technique with a ferro rod, it may be helpful to practice with a larger rod first. This can help you get a feel for the technique and increase your chances of success when using a smaller rod in the future. Ultimately, the size and width of your ferro rod will depend on your specific needs and intended use, but it’s worth considering both factors when making your selection.

Follow us on social!