by Tim Fox – 18 October 2021
“A small spark can start a great fire” – Emmet Fox
I couldn’t agree more, especially when you find yourself in an emergency situation out in the great outdoors.
How would you survive pitch darkness and cold as ice night? – Start a fire pit!
Thanks to human intelligence – a high quality Ferro rod that’s greater than a magnifying glass and bow drill kit come to light.
This rod can be the difference between freezing and survival. It’s a vital piece of gear to have on any trip because it’s the most reliable, easiest way to start a fire, even in extreme weather conditions or with exposure to water.
It’s very compact, making it the perfect camping companion, and it can also be used to create a rescue signal when you need it most.
And, a spoiler…
The best Ferro rod in this product round-up is the Holtzman’s Gorilla Survival Wood Handle Ferro Rod. It can be used to start over 12,000 fires, comes with an entire fire starter kit, complete with the Ferro rod and well-crafted natural wooden handle, a scraper, and a paracord lanyard. Thus, a long-lasting, easy-to-use rod that promises to work in any condition.
If you’re on the hunt for the best Ferro rods for survival…
Read on for our full product round-up to learn about the various features and specifications of different brands. That way, you can be ready for anything nature throws at you.
So, without further ado.
|Best Overall||Holtzman’s Gorilla Survival Wood Handle Ferro Rod||
|Runner Up||überleben Zünden ferro rod||
|Best Budget Option||Swiss Safe 5-in-1 Fire Starter||
|Light My Fire Swedish FireSteel 2.0 Army Strike Fire Starter with Emergency Whistle||
|Bayite Ferro rods||
What is a Ferrocerium Rod, Anyway?
A Ferro rod, or ferrocerium rod, is a synthetic (man-made) tool that is incredibly useful for starting fires, as it creates sparks when you strike it (like a flint). It’s an essential piece of any outdoorsman’s survival toolkit.
Fun Fact: Ferrocerium is often used as the flint spark found in Bunsen burners, welding and propane torches, Zippo lighters, and metallurgy.
Aside from this,
It was created in the early 1900s by an Austrian scientist experimenting with various combinations of rare-earth metals, namely neodymium, lanthanum, iron, praseodymium, magnesium, and cerium.
The scientist discovered that these metal alloys have a low ignition temperature and produced a spark when he scratched them with a harder surface.
When you scrape the surface of a Ferro rod with a sharp or rough edge, tiny shavings are exposed to oxygen, which oxidizes them to create an ignition through the action of friction. This is what creates the spark that leads to a fire. These tiny shavings burn at 5,430 degrees Fahrenheit (3,000 degrees Celsius).
Ferrocerium is typically crafted out of 35 to 50% cerium, 20 to 30% iron, approximately 25% lanthanum, and much smaller percentages of magnesium, neodymium, and praseodymium.
Not only that…
Ferro rods are not affected by cold weather, submersion in water, snow exposure, or extremely hot temperatures. This makes them an extremely valuable tool for a survival situation when you need to start a fire quickly or when other fire starters, like matches, would fail.
Also, a Ferro rod can create a spark all the way down to its core, so it’s useful to time and again.
One of these rods will be exactly what you’re looking for and a great addition to your fire starting kit.
Review of Best Ferro Rod
Holtzman’s Gorilla Survival Wood Handle Ferro Rod: Best Overall
The Holtzman’s Gorilla Survival Wood Handle Ferro Rod is the winner of this product round-up, thanks to its inclusion of other useful accessories, long life, and reliability and portability.
This tool is all you need to start a campfire in just a few seconds – whether you’re trying to stay warm, cook a meal, create a rescue signal, or use it as a light source.
Designed with a naturally constructed, comfortable handle, the Holtzman rod is easy to hold and looks robust. It feels rather ergonomic in hand and is a joy to use. The well-crafted wooden handle has a nice appearance as well.
The Holtzman also promises a long life, as it’s marketed to last for over 12,000 uses with each rod. To start a fire, you can use the included 90 degrees edged steel striker (scraper) or a steel knife blade or tough piece of glass if you have one handy.
This rod is 8 inches long and 0.5 inches thick, so it’s one of the longer options, making it very easy to strike. Purchase of the Holtzman also comes with an extra Ferro rod and a paracord necklace to make portability a breeze.
You can easily carry this Ferro rod around your neck underneath your shirt, where it will always stay safe and within reach.
If you’re purchasing a Ferro rod as a present for a loved one, the Holtzman is an excellent choice, as it’s presented in a professional looking gift box that’s sure to look sharp.
- Lasts for over 12,000 uses
- Has a comfortable wooden handle
- Comes with a lanyard for easier portability
- Includes a sharp steel multi tool striker
- Longer and may be easier to strike
- Comes in a gift box
- Somewhat expensive
- It may be large for some pockets
Überleben Zünden Fire Starter: Runner Up
The Üerleben Zünden is the runner-up among these fire starters, as this model is available in three different sizes for an ergonomic, long-lasting, easy-to-use tool that’s a breeze to carry and reliable every time, no matter the weather. It also includes a lanyard and other accessories for enhanced versatility and usefulness.
It’s designed with a natural premium wood handle, and the Überleben Zünden fire starter is comfortable to hold with an easy grip that feels secure in your palm. Überleben advertises their Sånft-korr(TM) ferrocerium rod to be more durable and reliable than other brands, produce sparks of 5,500 degrees Fahrenheit.
The Überleben Zünden is available in three different sizes depending on your needs. The thinnest “Trad” style is 5/16” in thickness and lasts 12,000 strikes, while the medium “Pro” measures ⅜” thick and lasts for 15,000 strikes, and the “Fatty” is ½” thick and will last for 20,000 strikes. This way, you can purchase various sizes to see which one is most effective for you.
With the Ferro rod, you’ll also get a 6-function multi-tool scraper which includes a straight edge, a serrated tinder scraper, a map scale, a small ruler, a bottle opener, and a hex wrench. It also comes with a military-spec 550 paracord lanyard to carry around your neck or with other gear.
The Ferro rod in this model measures 2.5″ to 2.75″. At the same time, the total length (including the handle) is approximately 5 inches, so it’s slightly on the smaller side, making it easier to carry around as part of your survival gear. The Trad version weighs just 1.7 ounces, the Pro weighs 2.2 ounces, and the Fatty weighs 3.1 ounces.
- The comfortable handle is well constructed
- Includes a paracord lanyard for portability
- Includes a multi-tool scraper with map scale, ruler, bottle opener, and hex wrench (more versatile)
- Three sizes and weights are available.
- More compact, lightweight, and easier to carry around
- The handle isn’t as grippy.
Swiss Safe 5-in-1 Fire Starter with Compass, Paracord, and Whistle: Best Budget Option
The Swiss Safe 5-in-1 Fire Starter is the best option for the budget-conscious. Not only is the price point affordable, but the Swiss Safe includes two fire starters for the ultimate option in value. The inclusion of a multi-tool makes this model even more worth it if you’re looking for a well-rounded tool to include in your survival gear.
With a long life of over 16,000 strikes, the Swiss Safe promises reliability and longevity with its 5/16″ thickness Ferro rod that produces sparks of 5,500 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s constructed with a plastic handle with some ridges for added grip, although it will likely not hold up over time as a wooden handle.
The Swiss Safe also comes with a built-in multi-tool with a steel serrated and straight edge scraper, a miniature compass, a 150-decibel safety whistle, and a 20-inch long paracord that can hold up to 450 pounds. This makes the Swiss Safe model perfect for carrying around your neck or attaching it to some of your gear.
As each Ferro rod weighs only 2 ounces, the Swiss Safe is easy to carry around on the trails or at the campsite. The Swiss Safe measures just 5 inches long, so this is also a bonus on the portability side while not being too small.
- Inexpensive option
- Comes with a multi-tool (scraper, compass, paracord, and safety whistle)
- Long life (over 16,000 uses)
- Low weight
- Good size
- Comes with two fire starters
- Compact for easy carrying
- The plastic handle is less durable.
Light My Fire Swedish FireSteel 2.0 Army 12,000 Strike Fire Starter with Emergency Whistle: Most Compact Option
The Light My Fire Swedish FireSteel 2.0 Army Strike Fire Starter with Emergency Whistle improves upon the first version of this model (which did not include a whistle). It’s our pick for the most compact of the Ferro rods in this product round-up.
Measuring only 3.75 inches in total length and weighing 2.47 ounces, the Light My Fire is an excellent choice if pocketability is your main concern. Overall, this is truly a fire starter made to disappear in your pocket or toolbox. It’s also equipped with a lanyard, so it can easily be worn around your neck or attached to your backpack straps.
The Ferro rod itself is also quite compact, with a length of only 2.5 inches and a thickness of ⅜”. Aside from its portability, the overall small size may be a drawback for some.
Keep in mind that a smaller Ferro rod may be more difficult to strike in some situations, so be sure to try it out to make sure it will work for you before taking it with you on an excursion. Also, because the handle is so short, the graspable area is much smaller and may prove more challenging to use for some individuals.
The Light My Fire Ferro rod is advertised to last for 12,000 strikes and includes a stainless steel striker for your convenience. There’s also an integrated emergency whistle for an added safety feature.
- Extremely compact and lightweight for pocketability
- Comes with a striker and a lanyard for ease of use and carrying
- Has a built-in emergency whistle
- Lasts for 12,000 uses
- The handle is very short (short length may be harder to use and grip)
- The short rod may be harder to strike
Bayite Ferro Rods 1/2″ X 5” XL Survival Fire Starter Drilled Flint Steel Ferrocerium Rod with Toggle: Simplest Option
These Bayite Ferro rods are your best bet if you’re looking for the most straightforward solution, as this comes with a pair of the Ferro rods themselves without any of the extra bells and whistles (other than a lanyard hole). This is an excellent choice if you already have a striker or a steel knife and just want to purchase some reliable Ferro rods.
Keep in mind that these Ferro rods are not equipped with a handle, so they are less comfortable to use and may slip from your hand more easily if you aren’t careful. Thankfully, they have a lanyard hole along the side, so you can carry them around your neck to ensure they won’t get misplaced.
The pair of Ferro rods weighs 3.52 ounces in total and can create a spark at 5,500 degrees Fahrenheit. Each of these Ferro rods measures just ½” thick and 5″ in length, although you can also find them in other sizes to fit nearly any survival situation.
- Good option if you don’t need a striker or other accessories
- Comes with a pair of Ferro rods (good value)
- Good size
- Has a lanyard hole for easier carrying
- Very simple – does not include other features or a striker
- No handle (less grip)
Buying Guide: What to Know Before Purchasing a Ferro Rod
Temperature of the Sparks
When buying your Ferrocerium rod, make sure to take note of its advertised spark temperature. A Ferro rod should throw sparks that burn at over 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit, with most of them ranging up towards 5,500 degrees Fahrenheit.
This high spark temperature is important because it enables the spark to withstand cold and moisture to light the fuel source on fire.
Size and Weight
Also, consider how large the Ferro rod should be. More compact and lightweight Ferrocerium rods will obviously be easier to bring along with you on your travels, and many of them will even be equipped with a lanyard to carry around your neck or attach to a keychain or your bag.
Most Ferrocerium rods will only weigh a few ounces, although the handle or additional accessories may increase their overall weight. When backpacking, always consider the total weight of survival gear you can carry and how much space you have in your emergency survival kit.
Despite being bulkier and more cumbersome, larger fire steel may last longer, however, or feel sturdier and more stable during use. Many of these larger Ferro rods may have long handles that are easier to grip as well. They may also be more durably constructed and harder to misplace.
As we’ve seen, many brands manufacture Ferro rods of various thicknesses. For instance, the Bayite fire steel above is available in 5/16″, ⅜ “, and ½” thick models, with the thicker varieties being more heavy-duty and durable. These are typical thicknesses that you’ll find in most Ferro rods.
Another aspect of the Ferro rod’s size is its length. Longer Ferro rods will take up more space in your bag but may be easier to strike and last longer at a given thickness. Longer Ferro rods may be 5 to 8 inches long, whereas shorter ones may be found at 2 to 3 inches long for ultimate portability.
Ease of Use
Ferro rods with a well-designed handle are easier to use, especially if they are grippy and larger. Many handles will be made of natural wood, or they may have a rubber coating for added grip.
Also, consider whether or not the Ferro rod comes with its own striker or if you need to use a steel knife or other metal surface to create the spark. Many miniature strikers are more convenient to carry in your survival kits.
Many Ferro rods are equipped with other accessories or tools, such as a safety whistle, lanyard, compass, bottle opener, and a ruler. These extra tools can be helpful and make your Ferro rod fire starter even more valuable to bring along on your adventures.
How do you use a Ferro rod?
The first step in using a Ferro rod fire starter is finding your tinder bundle, a flammable material. To select the best type of fuel (or tinder), look in your environment to find fibrous grass, dry twigs, pieces of broken bark, fine wood shavings, or cotton. The drier, the better, although as we discussed, Ferro rods will still work when in contact with moisture.
Then, set up the dry tinder loosely in a pile in front of you. You want to set up your tinder so that air can circulate throughout the pieces of grass or fibers, allowing the flame to grow in size as the fuel source ignites.
For the striker, you want to use a harder material than the Ferro rod itself so that the striker itself doesn’t get dull over time. The striker needs to be an object that you can move quickly, creating a lot of friction along the Ferro rod to create hot sparks.
More friction is achieved by using a sharp edge, such as the scraper that came with your Ferro rod. You can also use various types of smooth blades, like a steel field knife or hacksaw blade, or a flint rock, piece of glass, or even sandpaper. The more pressure you apply, the more friction you will be able to achieve.
Next, position yourself over the tinder bundle, holding the striker in one hand and the Ferro rod in the other. Securely situate the Ferro rod facing downwards so that one end is placed against the pile of tinder.
One method is to angle the striker at 45 degrees along the Ferro rod and drag it down towards the end of the Ferro rod. For more sparks, you can scrape the striker quickly upwards and downwards repeatedly along the Ferro rod’s length to increase heat via more friction.
One issue with this method is the potential to unintentionally spray sparks everywhere or accidentally push your tinder away if you hit it with the striker as you move it. Be careful if you choose this method.
A more accurate method is to hold the striker in place over the pile of tinder and pull the Ferro rod quickly away from the tinder pile along the striker edge, creating a single spark or shower of sparks that are much more precise and falls directly onto your tinder pile.
Here’s a video demonstrating the advantages and disadvantages of various techniques when using a Ferro rod:
Once the flame is ignited and you see smoke, blow into the tinder gently to provide more oxygen and encourage the fire to grow. You can also add more tinder to increase the flame.
How long does a Ferro rod last?
The life of a Ferro rod is largely dependent on the user’s skill since the fewer attempts it takes to start a fire, the longer the rod will last. In general, most of the Ferro rods on the market today will last between 8,000 to 12,000 strikes, although some may last even longer.
A thicker fire steel made of harder metal alloys can be found with life spans of up to 20,000 strikes and above. A larger rod obviously will provide more metal to utilize for sparks. Ferro rods constructed of a softer metal alloy will generally have fewer uses than those with a smaller diameter.
While a Ferro rod is still usable in wet conditions, you don’t want to let the moisture sit on the Ferro rod for long periods. To protect your Ferro rod from corrosion and prolong its life, always dry off any water (including sweat or condensation) that comes into contact with the Ferro rod. This will prevent it from rusting or crumbling apart.
What happens when you burn a Ferro rod?
If you accidentally drop your rod into a campfire, it will begin to warp and bend. It will start to break apart easily. If it stays in the fire long enough, the rod will begin to combust as the metals burn off after a few minutes, eventually leaving behind only iron oxide (rust). In general, a Ferro rod can be completely destroyed if it comes in contact with fire.
What is the difference between a Ferro rod and a magnesium rod?
Ferro rod: Usually lights fast and works perfectly with cotton balls, cotton pads, Vaseline (petroleum jelly), and more. It’s also weatherproof and shockproof.
Fun Fact: A flint fire starter doesn’t produce hot sparks compared to a Ferro rod.
Magnesium rod: A magnesium fire starter is waterproof, and magnesium shavings work as tinder. The spark from the Ferro rod, when comes in contact with the magnesium rod has the potential to create flame fast.
Thus, magnesium rods and Ferro rods perform similar tasks but it’s not the same thing.
Conclusion: Best Ferro Rods
A Ferro rod is an ultimate survival tool in the wilderness, as it’s your most reliable, quickest path to a fire, especially if you encounter harsh weather conditions or moisture that renders other fire starters useless.
The best Ferro rod in this product round-up, the Holtzman’s Gorilla Survival Ferro Rod, wins the title thanks to its comfortably contoured handle, sharp scraper, and lanyard for ease of use and portability, and its long life that promises durability and ease of use.
Another excellent option is the Überleben Zünden, which is a reliability-built runner-up. This model comes in three sizes and features a grippy handle and extra accessories in its multi-tool design, including a bottle opener, a ruler, a hex wrench, a map scale, and serrated and straight edge scrapers.
If you’re on a tighter budget, Swiss Safe is another great choice. It features a serrated and straight edge striker, a compass, an emergency whistle, and a durable paracord. You even get two Ferro rods for the price of one.
There you have it!
Surely, they got your back when your BIC lighters and bow drill don’t work. It doesn’t matter if it’s a magnesium fire starter of other Ferro rods. As long as it possesses such power to start fires.
Definitely, must-have addition to your survival gear.
We hope that this product round-up has helped guide you to find the best Ferro rods for survival so that you never find yourself in a sticky situation without this trusty little tool by your side.