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Old 04-06-2012, 07:56 PM
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Default Ferro Rod or magnesium block?



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So, for many many years I have been a huge fan of the Magnesium block fire starter. I am very good with them, and have even lit fire while it was raining with damp tinder using them.

What I would do is make a fire TeePee, with an opening. Then I would shave the magnesium onto a leaf or bit of bark or whatever and slide that into the opening. The I would place the lightest easiest to ignite stuff in contact with it, and let the sparks fly. It's always worked, never failed.

Last summer, I had a guy teach me how to make a friction fire. I can get a coal in like 20 seconds with cedar. However, i still have a lot of trouble foraging for the right wood, and making the kit with materials I found in the woods.

Today, I took a Strike Force with me and made a very interesting discovery (that really should have been quite obvious).

My attempt at a friction fire was a failure. However, I still had a really nice tinder bundle, and I hated to waste it. It did not use magnesium, or any man made tinder. I just put straight spark into the tinder bundle, and gently blew it to flame as if I had made a coal with a bow drill.

I am sure most of the old hands out there would not think much of this, as it really is no big deal. however, i thought it was the coolest thing. I just never thought to try making a fire without magnesium before.

I mean, they give you this block, that is like 98% Magnesium, and 2% fero rod. That mix always made me feel that the spark alone was not enough, or they would have given you more ferro rod, to use as your primary, and less magnesium to use as a back up.

So anyway, I am a Happy pyrotecnic hiker today, and I thought I would share!
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Old 04-06-2012, 08:06 PM
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Mg burns at around 2200 C which should indicate that it is used for lighting difficult tinder (wet, irregular shapes, small volume, high wind)

Use the ferro rod UNTIL you have a reason to use Mg. Ferrocerium burns at around 180 C

Much of the decision depends on what you have available for tinder.
Old 04-06-2012, 08:07 PM
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I carry a BIC lighter and a Blastmatch. I have Magnesium Sticks in my supplies tough.
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Old 04-06-2012, 08:17 PM
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I carry a BIC lighter and a Blastmatch. I have Magnesium Sticks in my supplies tough.
Blast match is the same thing as a Strike Force, only more simple to use.

One of the things I used today was the paper from some sort of Birch tree. It's really thin, and goes up like nothing. I always used it in my fires before. However, I always lit the magnesium, and used THAT to ignite the bark paper.

Making an actual tinder bundle traps the sparks, and makes the magic happen. The way I did it before I just kind of threw sparks at the opening of the TeePee and hoped that enough would go in to get the magnesium going.

Now, using a tinder bundle, it was one strike and I had fire! it was actually faster than the magnesium! That shocked the hell out of me.
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Old 04-06-2012, 09:53 PM
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I find that if you are gentle with the ferro rod, you can shave it like the Mg block as well when you are having problems starting fires. Then just spark on the shavings just like the Mg.
Old 04-06-2012, 09:58 PM
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ferro rod for me! does magnesium accelerate your blade rust if you use your knife?
Old 04-06-2012, 10:06 PM
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ferro rod for me! does magnesium accelerate your blade rust if you use your knife?
I don't think so. I have never had any issues and I use a Ka Bar. That is 1095 High carbon steel. If there was an issue, I am sure I would have discovered it by now.
Old 04-06-2012, 10:07 PM
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I find that if you are gentle with the ferro rod, you can shave it like the Mg block as well when you are having problems starting fires. Then just spark on the shavings just like the Mg.
Now that is a good thing to know! Thanks!
Old 04-06-2012, 10:09 PM
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I'm a "plan ahead" kind of guy and shaved an entire mag-bar down and put it in a large pill bottle. After all of that work, I wondered if you could just BUY mag shavings or powder instead?
Old 04-06-2012, 10:18 PM
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Originally Posted by kevinthenurse View Post
I'm a "plan ahead" kind of guy and shaved an entire mag-bar down and put it in a large pill bottle. After all of that work, I wondered if you could just BUY mag shavings or powder instead?

I "think'' i saw mag shavings on ebay
Old 04-06-2012, 10:26 PM
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I'm a "plan ahead" kind of guy and shaved an entire mag-bar down and put it in a large pill bottle. After all of that work, I wondered if you could just BUY mag shavings or powder instead?
Just enter "magnesium shavings for sale" into your favorite Internet search engine.
Old 04-07-2012, 10:40 AM
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Some of the best "tinder" you can take into the woods is cotton balls with petroleum jelly on them.
Even the slightest spark will get them lit.
Put ten or twelve cotton balls in a ziploc bag, a couple spoon fulls of petroleum jelly and squish it all around. The petroleum will only be on the outside of the cotton ball. Pull the cotton ball apart a little bit, and stick the end of your ferro rod down on it and strike. Easiest way to start a fire without a lighter.
Old 04-07-2012, 11:24 AM
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Originally Posted by kevinthenurse View Post
I'm a "plan ahead" kind of guy and shaved an entire mag-bar down and put it in a large pill bottle. After all of that work, I wondered if you could just BUY mag shavings or powder instead?
I like to carry my mag block right on my knife sheath. Every knife I own, has an extra pocket sewn onto it for that. Keeping it in block form keeps it small, and compact.
Old 04-07-2012, 11:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kevinthenurse View Post
I'm a "plan ahead" kind of guy and shaved an entire mag-bar down and put it in a large pill bottle. After all of that work, I wondered if you could just BUY mag shavings or powder instead?
Yeah, me too. I put a Doans block in my vice and used a rasp file to shave off a decent pile and put it in a small jewelry baggie because it's hard to shave a decent pile with a knife when your hands are freezing cold.
Old 04-07-2012, 12:45 PM
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A neat trick shown to my by a fella was with a ring he would wear. He'd pull the ring off, set it on his tinder bundle, and sprinkle the mag shavings inside the ring to keep the wind from blowing them away. He'd strike his fire and as soon as it was going he would remove the ring from the fire, with a stick. He said he figured this out on a windy day, but did it the first time with a hollowed out plastic bottle cap.

I asked, "doesn't your wife freak out when you do that to your wedding ring?"

His reply was, "One, I ain't married and two, its just a half-inch tall stainless steel spacer I picked up at the hardware store. I figured I might as well get one to fit my finger so I wouldn't lose it."

I felt like an idiot....

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