What is a Ferro Rod?

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Written By Michael Culligan

With over 12 years of experience in Oregon's forestry industry, I have established myself as a skilled and knowledgeable lumber professional. As a passionate competitor in local timbersports events, I have consistently ranked among the top lumberjacks in my area. I take great pride in meticulously maintaining an extensive collection of restored vintage axes. I personally test every axe I review by using it to fell and chop up oak firewood on my land.

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A ferro rod, short for ferrocerium rod, is a fire-starting tool made of a metal alloy that produces sparks when struck with a hard, sharp-edged object. Widely used in survival kits and outdoor activities, ferro rods are reliable, waterproof, and long-lasting, making them ideal for starting fires in various weather conditions.

When you’re fully set to be a Bear Grylls and pack your bags to get lost into the unknown, the ferro rod is one tool you must load to avoid a life and death situation. 

A ferro rod provides you with heated sparks that instantly create a fire on dry tinder. Expert survivalists recommend the ferro rod over other fire starters because of its excellent versatility, incredible durability, and the fact that snow, rain, or humidity doesn’t affect the tool at all! 

For all the survival enthusiasts out there, here we will discuss what is a ferro rod, why it is used, and how to use the tool expertly. So, let’s not waste much time and dive right in. 

What Is a Ferro Rod? 

Ferrocerium rod or ferro rod is a pen-size metallic material that functions as a fire starter by producing a shower of hot sparks when you strike the surface of this rod.  

No matter how cold the weather is, the ferro rod, with its capability of producing sparks over 3000 degrees Fahrenheit will always assist you in starting a fire. 

Depending on the brand, the ferrocerium recipe contains more or less 50 percent of cerium, 20 percent of lanthanum, 19 percent of iron, and small amounts of neodymium, magnesium, and praseodymium. 

Some manufacturers also add more chemical elements to improve the tool’s efficiency. 

Ferrorcerium firestarter

How to Choose a Ferro Rod? 

You can find hundreds of brands on the marketplace offering you various sizes and types of ferro rods. Among all the choices, it’s important to pick the right one according to your needs. 

The first thing you need to consider is the size of the rod. Of course, you want to choose a bigger size because they last longer. Whenever you strike the long rod, you get more burning material on your tinder, increasing the chances of combustion. 

From a long ferro rod, you can receive a minimum of 600 fires. If you’re just learning to use a ferro rod, it’s better to opt for the longer ones as they are easy to handle. 

In extreme conditions, when your hands lose dexterity due to excessive cold or hypothermia, longer rods can be truly helpful to start a fire with the least effort. 

However, if you’re looking for a compact rod to use once in a while, you can go for smaller 3 or 4-inch ferro rods. For ensured convenience, choose a 5 or 6-inch long ferro rod with a 0.375 to 0.5 inches thickness. 

I recommend a Bayite 4 inch Ferro Rod with Paracord lanyard. This gives it a good grip, its very affordable, and easy to store and transport.

Benefits of Using Ferro Rod 

While picking items for your survival challenge, you will come across several fire-making devices. Although all the popular ones are good in their own ways, some unique and handy features give the ferro rods the upper hand over many other fire starters. 

Here are some of the significant benefits of using a ferro rod:

Starts Fire Instantly 

Fire is one of the most important pillars of survival. According to the survival rule of threes, you might survive only 3 hours without warmth. A ferro rod showers the tinder source with sparks up to 3000°F heat, two times hotter than regular lighters or matches. 

You will need a maximum of three strikes to create enough sparks to start a fire. Moreover, the ferro rod comes in a ready-to-use condition making it easy to use the device shortly after purchase. 

Highly Versatile 

Where all other ignition devices fail, ferro rods work without any trouble. It doesn’t matter if the weather is wet, cold, or windy, you can count on these devices for instant sparks. 

Moreover, the rod works efficiently without the need for any other factors like the availability of gas or sunlight. Lighters and matches can give you consistent flame, yet they are finite resources and don’t work well in windy or wet weather. 

On the other hand, ferro rods need a metal striker to produce an ember that eventually turns into proper fire. Most ferro rods come with an attached striker; your knife or multi-tool can also be used as a striker. 


As the ferro rod doesn’t depend on fuel, it lasts longer than any other lighting device. The core material is metal, and so it doesn’t get easily damaged by shock, rain, or snow. 

You can use the rod as long as there is any material remaining. From a single ferro rod, you can receive up to 4 thousand fires! Durability is the key factor that makes it a favorite ignitor for many survival experts. 

How Long Does a Ferro Rod Last? 

Based on the rod size you are using, you can get anywhere from 1,500 strikes to 12,000 strikes. Some longer ferro rods often last even up to 20,000 strikes! 

Since you don’t need more than 3 strikes to light a fire, you’ll get more than 6 thousand fires from 20,000 strikes. And that’s enough for a lifetime, even if you go camping twice or more each year. However, the number of strikes depends on a bunch of factors. 

Usually, the China-made ferro rods are very poor in quality and stop working after a few uses. If the material is less thick, the rod will wear faster than other thicker ones. Also, the longevity of the rod decreases when you dig or scrap it unnecessarily. 

How to Use a Ferro Rod? 

To produce fire with a ferro rod, you only need to practice the task a few times. There are many techniques for using the device; you should choose the one you’re most comfortable with. I have written a comprehensive guide to starting a fire with a ferro rod here. I personally use an X-Plore Firestarer.

Below is the easiest step-by-step method of using a ferro rod:

Step 1: Preparation 

Prepare your tinder bundle and fuelwood first. Then, put the rod in the middle of the tinder source and hold it steadily with your left hand. 

Step 2: Placing the Striker 

Take the striker in your free hand and place it over the rod at a 45-degree angle. 

Step 3: Producing Sparks 

Now slide the striker along the rod surface from top to bottom with decent pressure. This will produce sparks into the tinder material. 

Keep the striker driving along the length of the ferro rod until you see glowing ember. Use proper fuel to turn it into a fire, and your job is done. 


So, what is a ferro rod? We hope you have already got the answer. Ferro rods can be a truly useful ignition source in extreme cold and rain. Just ensure you have a few practices to get the device into working. 

Once you master the lighting process, ferro rods will definitely be one of the top three tools you carry while heading into the wilderness.