How To Use A Fire Starter

If you’ve sat around a campfire, you’ll know that the methods people use to start a fire can vary wildly. We’re looking at you, gasoline enthusiasts. With fire-starting tools, there’s a more reliable and responsible approach. Knowing how to use a fire starter is a crucial skill for anyone who ventures into the great outdoors. Matches may seem like the conventional choice, but they can be unreliable in bad weather and crumble in transport. A dependable fire starter stick, or ferro rod, can get a flame started repeatedly.   

In survival or emergency situations, building a fire can be a life-saving action. Not only can it provide warmth in freezing temps, but it can help you boil water, signal for help, or cook food. And from a mental standpoint, a fire can help bring a sense of safety. Carrying a fire starter in your pack or keychain is a simple way to stay prepared.   

Learning how to use a fire starter is easier than you might think. When you have the right tools, tinder, and location, it’s as simple as just a few strikes, and you have a flame going. If you haven’t already, take a look at our article on How To Build A Fire In 10 Easy Steps. That way, you can be fully prepared when the time comes.   


– Tinder  

Gerber Fire Starter OR Ferro Rod and knife with a good spine like the Gerber Ultimate or Terracraft  


Step 1  

Make your tinder or have it ready. Bark, dry grass, and wood shavings are the most common choices for tinder. Some very prepared folks even bring dryer lint. Place your tinder in the center of the firepit or fire ring. Keep it in a nice pile, and make sure you have enough.  

Step 2  

Grab your fire starter. Take the striker or knife and place your knuckles down to the side of the tinder so that the Ferro rod and striker will hover above the tinder. Ensure the spine or non-blade edge faces down towards the tinder.   

Step 3  

Place the Ferro rod in contact with the knife or striker. Hold the knife steady and pull the ferro rod back towards your body in a quick but controlled manner with your other hand. The rod will begin to spark up. 

Step 4  

Repeat the motion in step 3 (go for quality over quantity) until the sparks ignite the tinder and a small flame begins to catch.    

A note on this technique: You may see some people use a Ferro rod, where they keep the Ferro rod still in one hand and use the spine of the knife to strike the rod and create sparks. This will create sparks and can ignite the tinder, but you lose control of where those sparks land. By keeping the knife fixed and striking with the Ferro rod, it’s more likely that the sparks will land in that area over your tinder.   


Gerber Fire Starter  

The Fire Starter is an excellent tool you can keep in a pack, camping kit, or car. It comes with a Ferro rod and metal striker, so there’s no need to use a knife. It also has a water-resistant tinder storage compartment, making it a crucial item for emergency preparedness.   

Ferro Rod and Knife  

Like the Gerber Fire Starter, a Ferro rod and knife will get the job done. The only downside is that they don’t compact into one item. However, Ferro rods can be small and packable. It would be out of character if we didn’t recommend having a knife on hand. While it may not be as compact, you’ll undoubtedly start a fire and get more utility out of having a knife with you.   

Matches and lighters  

It’s safe to say that matches and lighters effectively get a flame going. That being said matches can crumble and get wet. And lighters eventually run out of fuel and don’t do well in high winds. A Ferro rod won’t ever run out of fuel, giving you a consistent performance every time you need it.   

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *