What a Ferro Rod is Made of & How it Sparks

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Jul 24, 2008
I’ve noticed that a number of posts suggest that some ferro rods throw better/different sparks than others, after scouring the sealed plastic packing on a light my fire one I couldn’t find any details listing what the rod was made of to give one a clue why this is so, so I googled it and found the following:-

Ferro rods (ferrocerium) are made from, well not surprisingly ferro and cerium, ferro being iron and cerium being a mix of rare earth elements (which are not actually that rare) called cerium mischmetal. The full ingredients that make up a ferro rod are:- cerium, lanthanum, praseodymium, neodymium, iron, magnesium. The amount of iron and magnesium content will determine the sparks qualities, more iron content will produce a harder rod that throws more sparks in a shower which burn hot but for a shorter time, more magnesium content will produce a softer rod that wears down quicker and throws less sparks which are more like blobs of burning metal that last longer.

Apparently according to the link and vid below there are two types of rods made which are made completely different, one is called a ‘ferrocium rod’ and the other is called a ‘mischmetal rod’. The ferrocium rod is made with a higher iron content and less magnesium content than the mischmetal rod and therefore they spark differently. The trouble is when you buy a rod you don’t know which one you are buying and the seller will probably not be able to tell you either and just look at you with a blank face if you ask, many are sold loose but even those that come in sealed packaging have nothing written on the package to tell what it is made of. Incidentally I no longer use ferro rods myself but when I did I preferred the Light My Fire one.

Link explaining differencence

Good explanation and demonstration in this vid (start at 0:24 if you want to miss the musical intro)



Incidentally the ferro rod was invented by Carl Auer Von Welsbach

jonny the monkey

May 12, 2014
If I remember rightly then Shark Designs sell the 2 different kinds of ferro rod and give a little spiel about the pros and cons of each. Nice write up though, I like knowing what makes up the stuff I use. Isn't neodynium what makes those super strong magnets?

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