Lighting a fire with just wood and a Ferrocerium rod is allot harder than it looks. I have never successfully light a fire utilizing these two materials without an accelerant. This will not only be a very useful skill, but it will surely amaze my friends and family with such a primal task.



  • Knife
  • Axe
  • Folding Saw
  • Pine Wood (found in my green belt from the jerk that dumped it there)
  • Ferrocerium Rod (aka fire steel or ferro rod)
  • Leather Gloves


Day One

This will be my first attempt to process wood with the tools that I could carry with me in a pack which consists of a knife, folding saw and axe. I found an old apple tree log in my backyard to use. This piece of wood had few knots in it so I thought it would be something easy to process and light. I was wrong. Apple wood is a very dense wood and hard to cut, carve and light. Not a great choice when you are starting off. After I sawed the log into manageable pieces I then proceeded to split them in quarters with my axe. Not hard but wasn’t easy either. With some experience with an axe and saw before, I felt pretty comfortable splitting the wood log into quarters and then into smaller pieces with my knife utilizing a method known as Battoning. After the wood was processed it was ready to start my fire. Grouping the wood by its thickness I was ready to go. Piled all the fine shaving into a small pile with the rest of the sorted wood at the ready, I started flinging sparks at it. After a minute of effort, there was nothing. Not even a microscopic amber from the fine shavings. My first though was that my technique using the ferrocerium rod wasn’t right, so I tried different methods of throwing sparks from it. After a while my technique improved and I felt more comfortable using the ferrocerium rod. Even though my sparks are more intense and focused, there was still no fire. The shaving had to be too thick. So I tried to make even finer shaving but was having problems doing so because the wood was so tuff. I opted to gather some dried grass and see if that would light and it did for a brief second and died. With the night sky approaching quickly I pulled my lighter to see if the wood catch of fire. To my amazement it did not, well not at first. It took about 10 seconds of actual flame on the fine shaving to ignite. So I packed up for the night to rethink what I have done and what could be the problem.

After thinking about it I determined that the fine shaving had to be even finer and my skill level working with hardwood wasn’t at that level yet. So I opted to find softer oily wood such as Pine. Luckily some jerk illegally dumped a pile of pine wood in the green belt next to my house this last spring. This should be great to practice my skills with.


Day Two

Started the day collecting Pinewood from the pile in the green belt. They are all long and look like something you would see on the forest floor. Perfect for practicing fire making. Processing the wood with the same technique as before. The fine shaving were incredibly thin and should be easier to ignite. After setting up the small pile to light, I began throwing sparks at it. My technique was sloppy at first and but honed it after a minute. Then something magical happened. A small little flame was born! I was so excited to see it I almost forgot to add more fuel so it may grow. And grow it did, I was incredibly proud of my accomplishment.


What I have I learned so far?

  • I am still a novice and need to keep practicing to be more proficient with the tools I have.
  • Hard woods are harder to light on fire.
  • Be careful when using the back of your knife to throw sparks from your ferrocerium rod. It might bit you.




Written by Sinclair

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