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by Leon Pantenburg
I like stuff that works. Some of these items include my Cold Steel SRK survival knife, Ruger 10/22, a Swiss Army Classic keychain knife, my Gerber folding saw and a 42-ounce enamelware cup. Included in this list is a Boy Scout Hot Spark ferrocerium rod.
Because of its reliability, a Hot Spark is included in my keyring and Altoid tin survival kits. Backup ferro rods are also scattered throughout my gear. They don't weigh anything, or take up any space, and the ferro rod firemaking technique, properly done is utterly reliable. (Check out the ferro rod firemaking video!)
The Boy Scout Hot Spark on my keyring survival kit costs about three dollars at any scout store. It has a good handle and the ferro rod is very effective. Because it is easily included and convenient, it will be taken along.
Here's why I carry a ferro rod:
- Extreme reliability: A ferrocerium rod, when scraped with a hardened steel striker, will produce sparks with temperatures of up to 5,500 degrees. These sparks will readily ignite many forms of tinder. (Check out the video on finding tinder under survival conditions) A ferro rod is also good for hundreds, if not thousands of fires. Matches, lighters and many other methods are finite.
- Compact and easy to carry: That means you can carry several as backups.
- Work under conditions that would disable other firemaking methods: This is one of the
most important reasons to carry a ferro rod. Butane lighters are easily disabled by cold and moisture or a grain of sand. Matches are unreliable and degenerate over time. Every firemaking method has some disadvantage, but I believe a ferro rod has the fewest.