By now, many folks have tuned in to the importance of ferrocerium (ferro) rods for making a fire. I have one on my Every Day Carry (EDC) keychain. Ferro rods often come with strikers attached by a lanyard or are included with the packaging. Quite often the striker may be a piece of painted hacksaw blade. The novice might assume that the toothed saw side is what you would use for striking, but actually the smooth side is the most effective. A painted blade is ineffective until the paint is worn off to expose it’s sharp edge.
I like to hold the blade upright and perpendicular to the ferro rod, leaning forward at a 60 degree angle as I strike. In actual practice, I prefer to hold the striker stationary next to the tinder while dragging the ferro rod backwards from underneath it. This creates a spark that is contained next to the tinder rather that striking down the ferro rod with the potential of smashing the tinder apart with the striker.
Ferrocerium is an alloy that is softer than the carbon steel used in the traditional flint & steel fire method. What most people don’t know is that you do not need to use a metal striker to create sparks from a ferro rod. Flint rocks and similar types of glassy stones are hard enough to shred micro shards off of the softer ferrocerium metal that create the spark. The trick is to create a sharp edge for striking (or scraping). This can be accomplished by breaking one stone with another.Other materials that work are ceramic, glass, and coarse grades of sand paper. A piece of a broken toilet lid or perhaps a beer bottle bottom can do the trick. Coarse sandpaper is composed of bits of carborundum grit that are in effect a collection of mini sharp stones.
When you get a chance, try some of these materials out for yourself. I would love to receive comments on other materials that you may have used as a striker to successfully start a fire with a ferro rod.