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There are benefits and drawbacks to both product types, in this blog I will address how both compare to one another.
Benefits of Ferro Rods
• More strikes: Isolated ferro rods are usually much larger than the ones that come included as a part of magnesium blocks. A larger rod means a lot more sparks. The industry-standard dimensions of a typical ferro rod are: 80mm (L) x 8mm (W). These rods produce around 10,000 strikes. The typical ferro rod included with a magnesium block is typically only 6mm (W) which means a lot fewer strikes!
• More Sparks: A larger ferro rod with a greater striking distance also creates a larger shower of sparks. A larger shower of sparks will make it a lot easier to ignite your tinder bundle. Our Beast Fire Starter, for example, is 8” (L) and 12.7mm (W) and can produce up to 20,000 strikes!
Benefits of Magnesium Blocks
• Portable: Magnesium blocks are usually very small. They are easily carried and make the perfect backup fire starter. However, if you are looking for something even more functional, that keeps the size down checkout our Sidekick Fire Starter.
• Water Resistant Tinder: The difference in design between these two products comes down to the magnesium block which is attached to the ferro rod. Using the striker, or the spine of your knife you can scrape the block, processing the magnesium into a pile of shavings. This produces a reliable tinder, that is easily lit with your ferro rod.
• EverdayTacticalVids has a great YouTube video explaining how to use one. You can view this here.
Cons of Magnesium Blocks
• Processing the dense magnesium block into shavings is hard work, as you are essentially scraping away at metal! If you can learn to source and process natural tinder you find, this is a much better alternative. Our Stealth Fire Starter comes with a much more functional natural tinder.
• Don't rely on the ferro rod! The rods included are always extremely small. They produce minimal sparks and will wear out very fast. They also have no lanyard hole, the rods are glued to the magnesium block. So if it comes loose, your primary fire starter is gone.
• Fast burn time: The magnesium shavings you have worked hard to process will burn very fast, at around 4000 °F so if you don't have additional pre-prepared tinder at the ready you risk losing the flame. In my opinion, if you are needing to source additional tinder anyway to light your kindling, use proper tinder from the start! Our Stealth Fire Starter comes with waterproof, waxed-infused tinder wicks. These bad boys will burn for hours and will light your kindling right off the bat.
• Wind is your enemy. Imagine you have worked hard to process a small pile of shavings, and a slight gust of wind sends them all flying away! Natural tinders are easily retrieved if blown away.
Although, despite all of that being said with a magnesium block you are essentially getting two for one - tinder and a fire lighting source in one product. However, in my opinion, the magnesium block is largely impractical. At Forest Fundamentals we wanted to develop an evolved magnesium block, a complete fire starter that could be depended on when you need it most. Throughout the design process, we tried and tested many magnesium blocks and ferro rods, and wanted to correct their flaws. The result was the Stealth Fire Starter, please feel free to check it out here.