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Old Philosopher
01-23-2012, 06:22 PM
Sorry if this has already been covered, but I have a question about the current crop of ferro rods.

I recently watched a video here where the gentleman was using a Light My Fire ferro rod. I noticed that there were a lot of lingering sparkles in his tinder that looked like what I get when using magnesium. Currently, I have a Coghlan's fire starter that has a ferro rod fused to a magnesium block. I also have a couple custom fire starters with stag horn grips that also have a separate magnesium rod attached.

I read recently that the LMF rods use an alloy that contains magnesium. The video would support this. Does anyone know for sure?

Lerch
01-23-2012, 06:28 PM
I have LMF as well as generic no name ferro rods. I get the lingering sparkles with either rod but I don't get if if I use the LMF striker. If I use the awl on my SAK farmer I get long burning slivers into the tinder regardless of the steel I use. If anything I get larger longer burning globs with my generic rods. YMMV

3fires
01-23-2012, 07:05 PM
The softer it is, the more lingering sparks you'll get, but the harder it will be to strike.

What kind of sparks to you get from the Coghlans?

I have two and get the lingering kind. In fact you can scrape it, just the way you would a mag bar and get better results IMO. You have to scrape it slowly though or else it will spark up.

everglade blade
01-23-2012, 07:25 PM
i have aLight My Fire one and a Coghlans one. my LMF seems to be easier to, and always lights, the Coghlans is hard to light sometimes. maybe i'm doing something wrong. but, when the Coghlans lights, small slivers burn in the tinder.

Gryphonblade
01-23-2012, 08:01 PM
IIRC, theres a difference to the LMF formulation opposed to other steels. The LMF lights easier and sparks brighter.

Magnesium is a component of firesteel composition. I get the shavings too from my LMF, my other steel and from both of my steel/mag bars.

piney
01-23-2012, 08:20 PM
I have LMF as well as generic no name ferro rods. I get the lingering sparkles with either rod but I don't get if if I use the LMF striker. If I use the awl on my SAK farmer I get long burning slivers into the tinder regardless of the steel I use. If anything I get larger longer burning globs with my generic rods. YMMV

I agree. SAK Farmer awl for great performance.

Cheapeats
01-23-2012, 08:34 PM
I think all ferro rods have a certain amount of magnesium in them, you can take the "flint" out of a busted disposble lighter carefully scrape a small pile of shavings from the rod then scrape a spark off the rod and the pile of shavings will ignite.

Seeker854
01-23-2012, 08:35 PM
I bought an ESEE firesteel that throws HUGE sparks. I practice with LMF and Coghlan's, but if I really needed fire, my ESEE would get the call.

Old Philosopher
01-23-2012, 09:50 PM
What kind of sparks to you get from the Coghlans?
...
I get better sparks off the Coghlan's than the "custom" ones. I have only need the magnesium shavings from the Coghlan's once. With the custom ones, it's almost a necessity! :( I've got great sparks off the little ferro rod on the bottom of my match case, too.


IIRC, theres a difference to the LMF formulation opposed to other steels. The LMF lights easier and sparks brighter.

Magnesium is a component of firesteel composition. I get the shavings too from my LMF, my other steel and from both of my steel/mag bars.
Seems like all ferro rods are not created equal. Maybe the LMF and ESEE alloys have more magnesium that some of the others?
The best sparks I get are from an old hacksaw blade, my Leatherman awl, and my Dad's old carbon steel Western knife. My Gerber and Buck sheath knives are a waste of time.

GurNewbie
01-23-2012, 10:18 PM
Yeah, thinking there is descent amount of magnesium too. I have actually shaved a bit of from the LMF rod before stringing and I get a good twinlkling effect.

ezra45
01-23-2012, 10:36 PM
Since I found the Coghlans for $4 each, I use them with my SAK awl and they always work a charm. My more expensive LMF and Firesteel rods are in a drawer in the garage waiting for...I don't know what.

Regards,

ezra

Old Philosopher
01-23-2012, 10:51 PM
Wow...serendipity...and I thought this was an easy question. :p
I now find out that ferrocerium (from lighter 'flints' to firesteels) can range anywhere from 19%-30% iron, and 2%-4% magnesium. But it's not really the magnesium that gives a ferro rod it's effectiveness. Depending upon the manufacturer, the alloy can contain between 38%-50% cerium, and 22%-25% lanthanum. These are the metals that are used in carbon-arc welding and lighting.
So...if I buy a ferro stick off the shelf, I have no idea what it's actually made of. That's why hearing what brands others have found effective is the best guide.
Thanks for the testimonials, guys!

Old Philosopher
01-23-2012, 11:25 PM
Well, I looked up the MSDS on 5 different ferrocerium manufacturers, sold under various trade names including Ronson and Zippo. :rolleyes:
With one minor exception they were all:
Iron 20%
Magnesium 2%
Cerium 39%
Lanthanum 18%

So maybe the quality of the spark has more to do with the striker, than the rod?

Cheapeats
01-27-2012, 09:52 AM
When I do spark based fire starting with my scouts we use old hacksaw blades and generally get good sparks.

Old Philosopher
01-27-2012, 10:34 AM
When I do spark based fire starting with my scouts we use old hacksaw blades and generally get good sparks.
With a ferro rod, it's the metals in the rod that are igniting to make sparks, whereas with flint and steel, it's the steel particles that flake off the striker and get hot.
So it stands to reason that with a ferro rod, the harder the metal striker the better, and with flint soft iron would be best.
Maybe that's why some folks find flint & steel hard to master? It would be difficult to get a good spark with flint from a hard tempered knife blade.

Adam
01-27-2012, 11:15 AM
Ferro rods, fire steels, metal matches are a trial and error game when switching from brand to brand. As mentioned, the striker and the technique used make a difference.

The ESEE fire kit for example up until a year and a half ago, was a very soft almost magnesium type rod. If you scraped it slow, you got curl shavings of rod. You had to strike them fast with a very sharp edge to get good results in my experience. They were misch metal rods of a different flavor. They make the lingering molten fire balls well but are harder to control.

Move to a LMF rod and firm, slow strikes will give you good results.

I actually made a video on this subject a while back but put myself to sleep with it so I canned it. I might experiment again. It was was actually performance difference between the LMF Army and the $4 Coghlan's with a variety of strikers and tinders.

Some folks claim only a very few companies make ferro rods or misch metal rods. Based on the difference in performance with the same striker, I find that hard to believe. Lots of variation across the board in my experience.