History of Ferrocerium

History of Ferrocerium

Most fire starters have one thing in common: the flint. The thing that generates the hot spark. Over the years there have been many names for this substance: Auermetall, Mischmetal and Ferrocerium are the ‘official’ names. In common use are: ferro rod, fire steel, flint etc.

Ferrocerium is the modern name and comes from two words: Ferro – meaning iron and Cerium – a rare earth metal. These rare earth metals are found in California, China, Japan and Afghanistan.

Ferro Rods, in modern times, were invented and have been produced in Althofen (a small town in Austria) for more than a century. The inventor, Carl Auer von Welsbach, called his original flints Auermetall (this word comes from the inventors’ middle name ‘Auer’ added to ‘metall’).

Extracting Rare Earth Metals is what allowed von Welsbach to make the modern ferro rod. These metals are the major component of all top quality flints. Interestingly “rare earth” is an inaccurate term – because these metals are not particularly rare. They were called ‘rare earth’ because of the difficulty in extracting (or separating) them from the other matter (or earth) where they are found.

The major parts (components) in our ferro rods are 76% rare earth metals, 20% iron, and 2% magnesium. The remaining 2% materials are related to surfacing and anti-corrosion. The larger components vary – softer flints have less iron and more rare earth. So ‘soft’ flints will not last as long as the ‘hard’ flints but will generate greater quantity of spark and heat.

So, the best ferro rods are not those that give 15,000 fire starts (unless it’s 1 inch wide and 5 inches long). A good flint has a correct hard/soft balance and will give thousands of fire starts with high heat and large spray of sparks.

Our manufacturer of ferrocerium flints began production 1903. They have the world’s longest experience and expertise in the creation of ferrocerium.  In 2016, breakthroughs in science and manufacturing techniques resulted in a new level of consistent high quality especially related to spark-ability, surface quality and stability against corrosion.

Our ferro rods may cost more, but we give you the world’s best ferrocerium.