What is a ferro rod and why do I need one?

Two ferro rods
Two of the ferro rods that I have in my fire starting kit.

Why would a prepper need a ferro rod? A Ferro rod is used to start fires, whether out in the woods, camping, or in your back yard. Fires for cooking, boiling water, or providing heat, not to burn things down! But, isn't prepping all about making sure you have stored enough food and household supplies to last for a long period of time? Yes, and no. Yes because that is the main purpose in prepping. No because prepping is so much more! (See my article, There's more to prepping than food) Many preppers, especially new ones, may not understand the need for knowing how to start a fire. So, let's start there.

Let's say there was a scenario where you are without power. No electricity, no natural gas, no running water. How are you going to cook your food? Or boil water for safely drinking? Well, if you can afford to have a portable cook stove you will use that. But, what happens if the outage lasts longer than anticipated and you run out of fuel for your cook stove? How are you going to cook your rice and beans then? Say, stuff got really bad and you had to leave your home (bug out). Not only that, but the vehicle won't start and you have to go on foot. Would you be able to take your portable cook stove with you? Would you have a way to carry it and all of the necessary fuel? Probably not. How would you cook your food or boil drinking water then? Do you see where I'm going? There are so many different scenarios that could happen where we would need to know how to start a fire. To me, it just makes sense to have/learn fire starting skills.

Recently, I was on vacation (read about it here) and had an opportunity to practice some of the fire starting skills I have been learning. On one particular day, We were sitting around the fire pit and I was using a piece of sandpaper to scrape off the coating on one of my ferro rods (yes, I have a few of them) when my son asked, "why not just use a lighter?". So I proceeded to explain to him that a lighter may not always work and that my ferro rods were to be used as a back up. He just nodded his head in understanding. There are simply certain conditions where a lighter will not work. For instance, a lighter will not work if they are wet, in rainy, or very cold conditions.

I have several lighters in my Bug Out Bag (BOB) but do you know how easy it is to lose a lighter? If I were to lose my lighters, one by one, what then? Plus, if the situation I was in lasted longer than the fuel that was in my last lighter, how would I light a fire? I know, sometimes I tend to over compensate, or is it exaggerate, or maybe being overly dramatic? Whatever it is, my mother taught me it is better to be prepared (for any given situation) than to be unprepared. So, I tend to prepare for any and every thing that could happen. Most people will stop with a Plan B, but not me! Ever heard of Murphy's Law?

What is a ferro rod?

The word ferro is short for ferrocerium. According to Wikipedia, "Ferrocerium is a synthetic pyrophoric alloy that produces hot sparks that can reach temperatures of 3,000 °C (5,430 °F) when rapidly oxidized by the process of striking.". So, you take a ferro rod and use some sort of steel to "strike" it. Striking simply means running the steel down the length of the rod. When you do this, the action produces sparks. Very hot sparks. Thus whatever the sparks land on, ignites into a flame. Okay, so not exactly anything the sparks land on, but anything that is flammable. It's really quite simple. You have a rod and a piece of steel. The rod and steel produce sparks. The sparks produce fire. The best part? A ferro rod will start a fire no matter the weather! It could be rainy, or -80 degrees out and a ferro rod would still work. So, to me, it just makes good common sense to keep a couple of ferro rods in my BOB as a backup. Fire starters Plan A: lighters; and Plan B: ferro rods. I also have a Plan C for starting fires, but more on that in the future!

A set of ferro rods available on Amazon

Need a ferro rod to get you started? Here is a link for some of the ones I have that I purchased on Amazon (pic at left). Current price is $9.99 (USD) for two! I am not an Amazon associate and I do not receive any compensation from them for providing the link.

So, there you have it. I just wanted to give you a general idea of what a ferro rod is and why you need one. I will be starting a series of articles (and possibly videos) soon on Fire Starting 101. So please stay tuned!

Speaking of staying tuned...if you would like to receive an email notification when a new article is posted on this blog site, you may sign up for my mailing list by scrolling to the bottom of this page and filling out the form that is there. I will not spam you with emails, you will simply receive said notifications when an article is posted, and a newsletter every once in a while (usually monthly or less). I do not sell or give away your email address to anyone.

Thank you for taking the time to read this...I hope it has in some way helped you in your prepping endeavors.

Until next time...happy prepping, and God bless!

2 Timothy 4:2, Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. (NKJV)