Building a fire is at the top of a to-do list, regardless of whatever outdoor camping or survival activity you are doing.
Fire provides light, warmth, and the ability to cook food. Having a dependable way to start a fire is a priority amongst those who frequent the backcountry.
Sure you can use the natural resources around you to build a nice fire, but ultimately it’s that spark that’s needed to ignite it all.
A Ferro rod, also known as a fire steel or ferrocerium rod, is a stick made of a man-made alloy that a lot of survivalists and preppers have because they are a tool that can easily start a fire in almost any outdoor condition.
What’s so effective about a Ferro rod is that it can generate sparks that are over 3000 degrees Fahrenheit (1650 Celsius).
This is a round-up of the 10 best Ferro rods you can get on the market today.
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What To Look For When Purchasing A Ferro Rod
You’ll generally find Ferro rods sold with three components: the Ferro rod, the striker, and something to tie them together, generally paracord.
Each of these components can be customizable to what the user wants and some companies have come out with interesting visions for what a good Ferro rod should be.
You’d be surprised at how many types of Ferro rods are on the market.
Some manufacturers make theirs very thick so that it lasts for thousands of fires, and others mix different metals in to form the alloy which possibly gives you brighter and hotter sparks.
A good suggestion is to get a thicker one if you plan on using it frequently or a couple of smaller ones if you only go camping a few times a year.
Generally, the hotter the sparks the better the Ferro rod so ensure you get the one that can shoot hotter.
Most Ferro rods come with a comfortable grip instead of just holding onto the bar itself. These can have small to large grips and are generally made out of wood.
A good-sized handle that fits in your hand will do the job just fine. Waterproof materials or treated wood works best for the handle as your Ferro rod could be exposed to the elements.
Not all strikers are built the same when it comes to shooting globs of sparks off your Ferro rod. Make sure that you have a good-sized striker that is of a harder metal than the Ferro rod itself. It shouldn’t be difficult as ferrocerium is a soft metal.
Size matters in a striker because if the striker is too small you won’t be able to hold it effectively enough to get a good series of sparks.
Most higher-end strikers come with handles attached to them and are generally made of hardened steel.
Handles can vary based on ergonomics and it’s wise to keep your hand size in mind when shopping for a Ferro rod.
Some Ferro rods come with added functionality such as a compass or a paracord handle for more utility.
These are bonuses for sure, but you really want to make certain that the core product you are getting is solid enough for the job.
Sometimes the additional accessories are part of the Ferro rod or striker themselves.
There are some products that combine a Ferro rod and magnesium rod together for effectiveness while others include additional tools and bottle openers on the metal strikers.
The 10 Best Ferro Rods You Can Get
Let’s look at some of the best products the market has to offer you on your search for the perfect Ferro rod.
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Fire-Fast Trekker Waterproof Survival Fire Starter
An experienced Austrian company makes the Ferro rod for this fire starter. Paired with a magnesium rod that can be shaved onto your tinder will ensure that you have no issues starting a fire.
This is a good combination because it effectively gives you two ways to start a fire. The materials are top shelf and one of these rods can last a person several years.
- ✅ Ferro and magnesium rods together make fire starting effortless
- ✅ African wood handle is extremely waterproof
- ✅ A hardened steel scraper is effective at creating strong sparks
- ❌ Larger than a typical Ferro rod which could be bulky in your pocket
Get the Fire-Fast Trekker here.
Überleben Zünden Fire Starter
This Ferro rod is a versatile choice for everyone because of its quality and ease of use. These Ferro rods have a softer metal to make it easy to lob huge sparks that are 5500 degrees Fahrenheit.
The handle is bare hardwood and tapered in such a way that it’s comfortable to hold. In survival situations, you can use the handle as a shaved tinder as long as it’s dry.
- ✅ One of the easiest Ferro rods to strike
- ✅ The striker has multiple uses including map measurement and a hex tool
- ✅ This product easily lasts years with minimal wear and tear
- ❌ Ferro rod itself could be thicker
Get the Überleben Zünden Fire Starter here.
Überleben Leicht Fire Starter – Necklace Ferro Rod
The Leicht Fire Starter is one of the smallest Ferro rods on the market. It is so small that it has been turned into a necklace as an emergency Ferro rod.
The rod is actually a small bar that connects the paracord together with the striker looped at the end. Just undo the necklace and you’ll have access to use both together to strike.
It does take a little getting used to when starting out as it’s such a small form factor but it’s better than not having it and surprisingly effective.
- ✅ Small and compact, barely felt when wearing it for longer terms
- ✅ An efficient design that makes portability high
- ✅ Sparks burn at 5500 degrees Fahrenheit
Get the Überleben Leicht here.
Swiss Safe Fire Starter + Compass, Paracord, Whistle
Different companies are becoming more innovative with their offerings included with the Ferro rods they sell. This product in particular comes with a compass and emergency whistle as part of the kit.
The Ferro rod itself is made of high-quality materials and can last up to 16,000 strikes. It has a small form factor which makes it ideal for someone who is traveling light and still wants to pack something.
- ✅ Whistle and compass addition is a great bonus
- ✅ High-quality materials ensure this product lasts a long time
- ✅ Paracord materials are durable
- ❌ At 5 inches long you could have trouble getting as many sparks as you would a larger one
Get the Swiss Safe 5-in-1 Fire Starter here.
Texas Bushcraft Fire Starter
The Texas Bushcraft Fire Starter is a dependable Ferro rod that comes with a metal striker that is also a bottle opener, hex tool, and micro ruler for smaller measurements.
You’ll get up to 15,000 strikes with this Ferro rod and a high temperature of 5500 degrees Fahrenheit for each spark.
- ✅ Additional tools built into the striker are nice
- ✅ Higher-end alloy produces more strikes
- ❌ A longer Ferro rod would be better to produce more sparks
Get the Texas Bushcraft Fire Starter here.
Light my Fire Ferro Rod
This is one of the smallest Ferro rods you can get at just over an inch for the visible rod.
The ergonomic handgrip has a depression that your thumb can fit into perfectly. This allows for extra strength when striking to start your fire as quickly as you can.
- ✅ An innovative handle makes striking easier
- ✅ Up to 12,000 strikes with a 1-inch Ferro rod is impressive
- ❌ This small of a Ferro rod will be cumbersome for larger hands
Holtzman’s Wood Handle Ferro Rod
The handle on this Ferro rod has finger grips that make it easy to get a good grip on for a lot of spark production.
This Ferro rod is actually part of a kit of 2 separate products. The first is a standard Ferro rod and the second is a smaller one that you can keep around your neck with the included paracord.
- ✅ A kit with multiple Ferro rods is a plus
- ✅ One of the most innovative handles on the market
- ✅ Steel striker has a wooden handle which is uncommon
- ❌ A larger handle on the standard Ferro rod would be better for gripping
GobSpark Armageddon FireSteel
A Ferro rod that can strike up to 20,000 times and with huge sparks that can easily light any tinder, the GobSpark Armageddon is top of the line for starting fires.
This one has a short striker with a plastic handle so that you can put more physical force on the Ferro rod to produce a larger shower of sparks.
- ✅ Both the Ferro rod and striker have comfortable handles
- ✅ Bright colors mean you’ll be able to easily find it
- ✅ 20,000 strikes is a lot
- ❌ Rod sometimes jiggles loose from the handle after extensive use
Get the GobSpark Armageddon FireSteel here.
The Square Firesteel is a Ferro rod that is squared and not cylindrical like traditional products.
The idea is that the increased surface area will produce more sparks than you could get from a traditional Ferro rod.
The squared form factor also makes it easier for the handle to grip as it’s a bit thicker.
- ✅ Easy to hold squared Ferro rod
- ✅ Large surface area for more sparks
- ❌ A slight learning curve to use this type of Ferro rod effectively
Get the Square FireSteel here.
Arcadia Gear Fat Boy Ferro Rod
The largest of the Ferro rods that are on this list, the Arcadia Gear Fat Boy Ferro Rod reigns supreme for sparks.
The circumference is almost the same as an American nickel and it’s designed to last for many years. The handle is a little smaller than most but is easily gripped between your fingers.
- ✅ Thick Ferro rod that showers sparks and will last many years
- ✅ Sparks burn up to 5500 degrees Fahrenheit
- ✅ The wood handle can be scraped for use as a tinder
- ❌ Heavier than standard Ferro rods
Get the Arcadia Gear Fat Boy Ferro Rod here.
What is a Ferro Rod And How Does It Work?
Ferrocerium is a metal alloy that has the ability to throw sparks when scraped with something of equal roughness.
Ferrocerium was developed in the early 1900s when a scientist combined cerium and iron and noticed that it was giving off sparks.
Since then several variations have been made that burn brighter sparks or have a hotter temperature when struck.
A Ferro rod is different from flint and steel as there is no chemical relationship to the mineral that you can strike with steel.
The same thing applies to a bar of magnesium in which there might be a trace of magnesium in a Ferro rod but a bar is the pure metal. Magnesium is similar in that it shoots sparks when struck by a harder metal.
You’ll notice that your Ferro rod will come with a black coating over the top of it that needs to be scraped away before sparks will start flying.
This coating is to prevent oxidation which could eat through the metal alloy and make it unusable. You have to scrape down beyond that coating until you see the silver metal underneath.
Advantages Of Using A Ferro Rod Over Other Fire Starters
Ferro rods are used by outdoor enthusiasts all over the world and have grown more popular in recent years due to their effectiveness in almost any environment.
They are waterproof and will even strike a spark after being submerged and pulled out of water.
You can use a Ferro rod at high altitudes, high wind environments, and even the coldest temperatures in the middle of winter.
Without the reliance on fuel or other ways to start a spark, the Ferro rod makes for the ultimate fire starting tool.
These are the top 10 Ferro rods that also display the variety you can find on the market today. It’s not uncommon to see survivalists and campers with multiple Ferro rods of varying styles.
Perrin is an adventure guide and naturalist currently living a nomadic life in the Canadian wilderness. His education and expertise is in wilderness survival and wildlife tracking. He enjoys teaching people about the outdoors and has managed large groups on expeditions.
With several accredited certifications, including being a wilderness first responder and a leave no trace expert, Perrin believes it is important for all of us to reconnect with the natural world.