By Nick Italiano
A common tool used by outdoors people and bushcrafters to start fire is a ferrocerium rod, commonly known as a fero rod. These are sometimes accompanied by magnesium bars or rods.
Ferrocerium is a synthetic pyrophoric alloy of “mischmetal” (cerium, lanthanum, neodymium, other trace lanthanides and some iron – about 95% lanthanides and 5% iron) hardened by blending in oxides of iron and / or magnesium. When you use a striker or 90-degree spine of a knife to strike a Ferocium rod, it produces sparks that are upwards of that can be used to ignite tinder materials and start a fire.
Magnesium is flammable and burns around 4000 degrees Fahrenheit. The purpose of a magnesium rod is to scrape off magnesium from the rod with the spine of your knife to make little piles of easily ignited high temperature materials to help start your fire.
While using this method to start fires takes a little bit of practice, these tools are a long lasting and cost effective way to ensure you always have the ability to make a fire.