Mini ferrorod struggles

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Suffolkrafter

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Dec 25, 2019
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I've been on a bit of a bushcraft spending spree these last couple of weeks. One of things I bought was a pack of mini ferrorods (leen4you) which are meant for toggles etc. I had the idea that I could attach one to my keys with jute twine - and combined with Chapstick which I always have in my pocket, I'd have a fire kit with me at all times.
Only problem is I have found them very difficult to get a spark from. I tried filing the back of a Swiss army knife blade (before trying to sharpen a 90 spine on one of my house keys). No joy. I tried the striker from my light my fire steel. With a lot of effort I got some spark. And I mean a lot of effort. They are hard to hold too.
I'm really not convinced by these. In a perfect fire lighting scenario I might get a fire lit with them. But in wet tricky conditions I think I would fail.
Has anyone else given these a go?
 

C_Claycomb

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Can we assume that you mean these things?
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Leen4You-Ferrocerium-Drilled-Survival-Starter/dp/B07DNNY1BR
Pack of 5, £3.99
Length: 26mm(1"), Diameter:8mm(0.31"),Diameter of the Drilled Hole: 4mm(0.16")

If that is right, I think you have gone to a lot of trouble so as to feel that you have not wasted £4...probably more effort than it was worth I am afraid.

Ferro rod toggles on a key chain is not the best idea just due to the nature of the material and how it is used. These toggle things are not bushcraft, they are toys to snare the unwary gear enthusiast. Don't feel too bad, we all buy stuff like that at some point!

Some things worth knowing about ferro rods.

They are not all the same! The alloy mix varies from brand to brand and supplier to supplier. This does not mean that some that are harder to strike sparks from are inferior than the ones easier to strike sparks from, this material is used for things other than lighting camp fires and harder, more resistant alloy mixes can be better in those industrial type applications. Some of these harder to strike rods can be bough in bulk quite cheaply. They tend to be more corrosion resistant. Unless you are buying a well known brand you are unlikely to know what it is that you are getting. The good ones tend to cost more.

Rods that are easy to spark will corrode very readily in the presence of moisture. Hell, they will corrode while sat in a wooden drawer in you house without ever going outside. When they corrode they leave grey powder behind that is hard to get out of pocket linings! Guess how I found out...:doh:Even if they don't corrode, they will wear with contact with the keys and leave residue behind as a result.

You must have a hard and sharp edge to scrape sparks off even the easy rods. The soft steel in keys isn't enough, and Swiss Army are known for being a bit soft (54HRC). A small piece of broken and ground file is more like the right stuff. Maybe grinding off the flutes of a drill bit and putting an edge on the end would work too.

You need to be able to both support the rod and bear down on the scraper, which is hard if the scraper is very small or hard to hold. I would imagine that such small rods could only be used with any effect by pinning one end against a hard surface at about 20deg off vertical and have the tinder held to the scraper itself as it is run down the rod. As you say, dang tricky.



It is very rare that I really need to make fire with what is in my pocket, but when I do, it tends to be situations where I want flame, rather than a spark that needs coaxing. So, I carry a Peanut lighter on my key ring. I have a cheap one whose case is clearly not made of stainless steel, but even so, it has been good and handy for several years now. Another option, if you really like sparks, is the Exotac Nano, it is bigger than you probably want, and more expensive, but it is fully waterproof and had a very good striker built in.


Best of luck

Chris
 
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Suffolkrafter

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That's some great info. Thanks! I should have posted before buying the things! I've got a couple of 'normal' sized ferorrods and indeed they are very different. One is soft (I can't remember the make), the other is the light-my-fire which is great, I really rate it highly. I decided not to go down the rabbit hole of buying any more, but had a moment of weakness, which combined with an Amazon account can be quite hazardous...
 
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crosslandkelly

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That's some great info. Thanks! I should have posted before buying the things! I've got a couple of 'normal' sized ferorrods and indeed they are very different. One is soft (I can't remember the make), the other is the light-my-fire which is great, I really rate it highly. I decided not to go down the rabbit hole of buying any more, but had a moment of weakness, which combined with an Amazon account can be quite hazardous...

If you can get along to a meet somewhere, it's great to have a look at other peoples kit to see what they use, and why.
 
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Nice65

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Another option, if you really like sparks, is the Exotac Nano, it is bigger than you probably want, and more expensive, but it is fully waterproof and had a very good striker built in.

I had one, because they’re just super cool and look great on the EDC key ring. But it was still too small to be useful, fiddly to use. The best ferro rod I ever saw was a 12” x 3/4” soft ferro from Going Gear. They don’t sell them anymore, but it was totally OTT fun, and completely impractical. Light your fire from ten feet away type sparks. :D

Maratac brass split pea on my keys is more reliable, but I only put it back on my key ring last week after an utter disaster. We decided to pack a gas stove, pan, kettle, water, cup a soups and a pack of bacon in the rucksack and head off for a good walk with the dogs. Found a nice spot and set up to cook. Ah, forgot to bring a lighter, so our hopes were dashed. “Hold on” says she, “I have that lighter on my key ring”. It hadn’t been filled in years so was dry, but the spark lit the gas (+1 for gas). So, on went the kettle as I got the pan ready for the bacon, Daddies sauce at the ready. Ooh yum, we’re getting hungry now.

“Erm, did you bring the rolls?” says Madam... ... ...A horrible realisation dawned upon me. :censored::censored::censored:

The Polymath Spitfire fire kits are really excellent for the money, have a look at what £11.99 gets you. The kit isn’t tiny, excellent quality, and superb value. Buttered bread rolls not included. ;)

https://www.polymathproducts.co.uk/product/spitfire-pocket-fire-lighting-kit
 
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Suffolkrafter

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Some great options on this thread. Cheers folks. I do like the look of a peanut lighter as a practical keyring option. Truth is I've never in my life actually needed a fire lighting option in my pocket, but I like the idea of it. Having said that, forgetting the rest of my fire kit is not unfeasible. I once went on a trout fishing a long time ago and forgot to bring my fishing rod and reel which put a downer on things. Needless to say I caught nothing.... but then I rarely caught anything when I did have my fishing rod either. But that's a whole other story. Forgetting things is not beyond me.
 

Broch

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Jan 18, 2009
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I'm really not convinced by these. In a perfect fire lighting scenario I might get a fire lit with them. But in wet tricky conditions I think I would fail.
Has anyone else given these a go?

As has been said, there's a whole range of products out there being generally sold as 'ferro rods' - some designed as sparkers for industrial applications where it is spring-held against a wheel. They're harder and more difficult to get a spark out of.

However, having mistakenly bought a pack a while back to make some turned handle rods as gifts, I have experimented with them and found the best way to get a good spark from them is to use the metal saw/nail file blade on a SAK. It's probably the hardest bit of steel on a SAK. You have to get through the smooth outer layer of the rod first and use both a downward and cutting motion (so the teeth dig in - see photo) with quite a bit of pressure; I can produce quite a decent shower of sparks that way. Needless to say, however, I've decided they're too hard to use to give away as gifts.

My favourite 'Light my Fire' rod is much softer and produces a shower of sparks that looks like a mini firework without any effort at all and I can project the sparks well into the base of a prepared tinder bundle - much easier than using a match or lighter IMHO.

2020-01-11 10.46.23.jpg
 
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Broch

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Has anyone tested the telescoping tube minibellows that it is usefull?

Do you mean has anyone used one? Mine's made out of a telescopic selfistick bought for £1 :) - wouldn't go to camp without it - it saves a lot of smoke in the eyes.
 
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Suffolkrafter

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Will it work to put the toggle in the end of a keyringfob of twine/paracord to get some sort of a handle?

I don't think it would work, at least not easily. It takes a fair amount of force and a very firm grip to get any kind of spark from it. Even holding it with pliers would be tricky. I just think there are easier options out there.
 

Broch

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A car aeriel works just as well. A selfie stick is a bit big.

In what way? too long, too wide? mine works perfectly! The exit diameter has to be quite small to get good air velocity so make sure the stick goes down to quite a narrow diameter. I have experimented quite a lot and turned different end pieces to find the best option - in my opinion an exit hole of around 5mm gives the best result - the pipe can be as long as you want.
 

Nice65

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In what way? too long, too wide? mine works perfectly! The exit diameter has to be quite small to get good air velocity so make sure the stick goes down to quite a narrow diameter. I have experimented quite a lot and turned different end pieces to find the best option - in my opinion an exit hole of around 5mm gives the best result - the pipe can be as long as you want.

In honesty Broch, I’ve never seen a selfie stick, I’m just assuming the bore would be larger than the tiny pocket bellows. I do know a car aerial works, as does a length of brake pipe except brake pipe isn’t as convenient.
 

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