Posts Tagged With: EDC survival kit

The Size of Your Ferro Rod Matters – Go Big!

by Todd Walker

ferro rod size matters

I once held the opinion that the size of your ferro rod didn’t really matter. As long as your little rod throws enough sparks to ignite a tinder bundle or char cloth, that’s all you need, right?

For the record, I’ve started many fires with thin $5 ferrocerium rods. No survival kit is complete without this essential fire starter. I bet Tom Hanks’ character (Chuck) wished he had one in his pocket in the movie Cast Away. But then again, he would never have experienced the thrill of fire by friction.

Ain’t Hollywood great!

Seriously, life and death situations are not the time to trust primal fire-making methods. These techniques are great skills to develop, but don’t play around with combustion when fire could save your life. Always carry fire redundancy.

The Size of Your Ferro Rod Matters - Go Big!

Pocket dump… this pocket-sized ferro rod and hacksaw blade striker rides on my key ring.

If all you can afford is a $5 ferro rod, buy it and learn to use it. Keep in mind that these are a consumable item and will eventually be depleted with use.

That’s why size matters!

Making fire is a hot topic with many arm-chair warriors on the internet. Some argue for small, light-weight rods to get the job done. I carry a small ferro rod everyday for those just-in-case times. A Bic lighter too. But for long-term survivability, I’m fond of big, substantial, molten steel for spontaneous combustion.

It’s been said that the key to lasting success is… lasting. The same applies to your survival gear. In the combustion department, you want a ferro rod that will last through years of use.

Allow me to introduce you to my new “little” friend!

The Size of Your Ferro Rod Matters - Go Big!

Measuring 1/2″ x 6″, this is a pyro beast!

Last weekend I spent some dirt time testing this fire wand. The amount of 3,000º sparks raining down from this fire tool is insane!

I ordered mine from the Pathfinder Store. No fancy bone or wood handles. Just a blank ferro rod.

My down and dirty handle is made of several feet of Gorilla Tape and a loop of paracord. Here’s my reasoning for this handle:

  • Extra Gorilla Tape is never a bad thing in a crisis
  • Epoxied handles tend to come loose with heavy use over time – not so with this tape
  • The loop allows me to clip the rod on the inside of my bushcraft bag or B.O.B.
  • My pinky finger fits inside to secure the grip when pulling the rod across the spine of your knife or metal striker

The One-Strike Fire

The importance of fire for wilderness survival can’t be overstated. If you only have once chance to make fire, this ferro rod increase your odds.

Use a knife with a 90º spine or other sharp object to remove the black coating from the rod. The coating is there to prevent oxidation. Note to self: Do not test this bad boy inside your house or over your feet. Trust me on this one. These globs of molten metal burn for a couple of seconds once they hit the ground.


No amount of sparks will start a fire without properly processed tinder. Here I’m working natural tinder (cedar bark) into a fine fiber. Just to the left of my hands is a hat full of Beech leaves. Foliage from Beech trees is hanging around (late March) just asking to help make fire.


Get the angle right with your scraper on the ferro rod and pull the rod back across the spin. My closed Opinel #8 worked fine. You want a high carbon steel blade for this task. The high carbon part isn’t as important with ferro rods but comes into play when using flint and steel to make sparks.

[High carbon steel is pyrophoric. Pyrophoric materials are substances that ignite instantly upon exposure to oxygen. We’ll discuss the science behind flint and steel in an upcoming post.]


The increased surface area of my new pyro wand produced fire in my tinder bundle with only one strike. What if you only get one strike to make fire? Bring a big bat to the plate!



In an emergency scenario where fire determines your survivability, rescue, life or death… SIZE MATTERS! Once you go big, you’ll never go back.

Update: For those interested, below is a progress photo of my semi-permanent bushcraft shelter. We all need a place to practice our Doing the Stuff skills… a place to trade theory for action!



Keep Doing the Stuff,


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Categories: Bushcraft, Camping, Doing the Stuff, Gear, Preparedness, Survival | Tags: , , , , | 19 Comments

Four Easy-To-Carry Fire-Starters

[Editor’s Note: How important is fire? Today’s guest post was originally published on The Prepared Ninja and reprinted here with permission by the author, Tom Miller. Be sure to check out his bio and connect with him. Don’t let the name The Prepared Ninja fool you. Tom is anything but a mall ninja. He’s doing the stuff with practical advice on preparedness and liberty.]

EDC Fire Starting Options

by Tom Miller

Fire is one of the basic needs for survival. Whether used to stay warm, cook food, provide a light source, or ward off pests, fire can be the difference between life and death. Because fire can be started with a variety of small and lightweight elements, a fire starting method should be included as part of your every day carry (EDC) items and a minimum of two fire starting methods should be included in survival kits, get home bags, bug out bags, etc. The ideal fire starter for every day carry should be small, light weight, and sturdy enough to withstand extended periods of time in a pocket or bag. My top selections for EDC fire starting options are as follows in order from least preferred to most preferred:

4. Magnifying Glass – A magnifying glass can be a good option for starting a fire and there are a few different options when it comes to magnifying glasses; there is the traditional round and thick shape but a better option for every day carry is going to be the flat credit card style of magnifying glass. Starting a fire with a magnifying glass relies on using the magnification to focus a bright light into a fine point that produces fire through heat. Because of this, the single greatest disadvantage to choosing a magnifying glass is the need for sun light. With sun light not always being available in all areas, it comes in at number four on the list.

3. Matches – When it comes to matches, strike anywhere is the way to go. Unfortunately, the availability of strike anywhere matches has significantly decreased in the United States. If obtaining strike anywhere matches is a challenge, try to make your own. It is also beneficial to carry waterproof matches if that is your choice. A sturdy container will protect matches from damage and environmental threats such as moisture. There a purpose-built containers for matches but repurposing a prescription pill bottle or even a clean spice container can be just as suitable. Because of the bulk and each match being typically limited to starting one fire, it comes in at number three on my list.

2. Fire Steel – A fire steel is an awesome choice for a fire starter because it is durable, lightweight, and functions in all types of weather. It is a less reliable option overall because of the fact that it can provide a spark but needs to be paired with a fuel source to start a fire. The fire steel finds itself at number two on the list as a result of the effort needed to produce a fire and the fact that a fuel source is required as well.

1. Lighter – A good old-fashioned Bic style of lighter is often the weapon of choice for starting a fire. With the exception of interference from wind, a lighter will usually successfully produce a flame in most conditions. The placement of a lighter as the first choice in EDC fire starting is based on the fact that it is lightweight, durable, versatile, affordable, and packages a spark and fuel source together.

When deciding what goes into your pockets, purses, and preparedness kits…fire will always have a place. What will you carry?

Author bio: Tom Miller is the owner and writer at the survival and preparedness blog, The Prepared Ninja. His extensive military experience during both peacetime and combat give him a unique perspective on survival and the volatility of society. Visit his website The Prepared Ninja, connect with him on Facebook, or follow on Twitter.

Categories: Bushcraft, Preparedness, Survival | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

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