FERROCERIUM: BAIT AND SWITCH.
A few days ago I was reading comments on a Survival Forum about fire starters. The statement most frequently repeated was: “THERE IS VERY LITTLE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN FERRO RODS.” In the long chain of comments there were over 20 people with this opinion. From their experience I’m sure it’s true.
They’ve tried many ferro rods over the years and they all performed about the same.
First off we have to define what we are talking about. Ferrocerium (Ferro – Latin for iron. Cerium, a Rare Earth Metal) is a metal alloy that is a combination of these two metals and has a low ignition point. A steel striker scraped across the surface of ferrocerium creates sparks and enables you to start a fire.
The original alloy (mixture of metals) called ferrocerium was invented in 1903 and began production in 1907. Invented by Carl Auer Von Welsbach, ferrocerium was very simple: 70% Rare Earth Metal and 30% Iron.
Today, and for more than 30 years, most “ferrocerium” manufactured outside Europe is not ferrocerium at all. And the non-European “ferrocerium” is the bulk of what is offered for sale in the USA. It's almost all there is. European ferrocerium sticks close to the original formula and it's expensive. Non-European is dirt cheap.
So you get survivalists in a forum saying all ferro rods are pretty much the same. They’ve used inferior products for over 30 years. So the memory or use of something better is nonexistent. It’s all they know. And if these skilled professionals have be misled...
Just because you see a black rod called “ferrocerium” doesn’t make it ferrocerium.
There is a massive difference in materials content and performance.
Yesterday I looked at a Fire starter listing on Amazon. The listing said they were a small family business located in a sunny state and then this: “Our products are designed, prototyped, tested, and PATENTED in the USA.” See the lengths some folks will go to hide the country of origin? I looked on Alibaba.com (the Chinese emporium) and found the exact same item for sale there – it was very cheap.
How to avoid the lies.
Demand to see the MDS (Materials Data Sheet). This is an official list of the material used to make the item and the percentages of each component. Every company has to provide this on request. They are readily available. This is the MDS for the ferrocerium used by Fire-Fast (96% ferrocerium):
This ferrocerium is 76% rare earth metal 20% iron, 2% magnesium and 2% anti-corrosives.
Here is the MDS of a typical Chinese ferrocerium rod:
This ferro rod contains 19% plastic (nylon and polypropylene) and only 16% rare earth metals. Iron content is 22%. That is 38% “ferrocerium." At these very low percentages, this is not ferrocerium at all. These types of rods only contain enough rare earth and iron to ignite the 31% magnesium contained in them. When you strike these rods they shed small pieces of burning magnesium. Almost no sparks at all. It’s difficult to light a fire with them – but in all fairness, it can be done.
The Fire-Fast ferrocerium is made by the original manufacturer. Yes, the same company is still in business over 100 years later. It’s the best ferrocerium in the world. Here’s one Amazon review to make the point:
5.0 out of 5 stars Easy to use!
Reviewed in the United States on July 21, 2021
“Nothing to say but amazing! My 4 year old can start a fire with this tool, super easy to use.”
Now obviously, this is one but kicking 4 year old! Most kids this age couldn’t light a fire with our fire starter. But this one did. I showed you this review to illustrate how easy it can be to light a fire with a real fire starter.
At Fire-Fast we really provide two things: the first is a durable, long lasting, reliable, easy to use fire starter you can light a fire with, even if you are a complete novice. The second is peace of mind. Like the man once said: It’s better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it. If the worst happens you need Water, Fire, Shelter and Food. It’s dramatic to say, but true: one day it might save your life. Other than that, have fun while hiking, camping, hunting, fishing or barbecuing….