Hard vs Soft Ferrocerium Fire Starters.

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Hard vs Soft Ferrocerium Fire Starters.

#1

Post by DuxDawg » Fri Aug 21, 2015 7:39 pm

*blush* 

*sheepish look* 

"What for?" you may ask. 

For many years I have maintained that there is no significant difference between the so called hard and soft ferrocerium firestarters. Having spoken with dozens of people and watched countless videos on YouTube, I can say that I have done my online research. Many of these people include Coghlans and UST StrikeForce ferros among the hard ferros. This further cemented my "no significant difference" thoughts. However, a few videos, such as certain ones from Ray Mears, Paul Kirtley and Magnus Anderson, showed them using a rocking motion or an extremely short stroke on the end of their ferro which I was unable to replicate with any combination of my dozens of scrapers and ferros after hundreds of attempts. This planted the seed of doubt that led us to today. 

Now, I have not only researched ferros online. Far, far from it. I have started literally thousands of fires with ferros over the last 25 years using hundreds of manmade and natural tinders in all conditions throughout the year here in the Upper MidWest. Further, I have used ferros from at least 12 different models, from at least 6 different companies and with 5 of those products I have completely worn out more than one of each of them. Obviously I am more qualified to speak on ferros than most. Indeed, for several years now I have felt quite confident that my conclusions about hard and soft ferros were correct. 

Until today. 

Yes, despite all that effort and experience, I was wrong. Very wrong. 

Please allow me to take a moment and back up a bit. Recently as I was hemming and hawing over what to order from Amazon.com, I decided to add a Light My Fire Army model. For clarity's sake, this is the one I purchased: http://www.amazon. com/gp/product/B004172IG2/ref= olp_product_details?ie=UTF8& me=
  The product description on its Amazon page is: "Light My Fire Swedish FireSteel 2.0 Army 12,000 Strike Fire Starter with Emergency Whistle". Now, I was not expecting any surprises when I purchased this. Figured I knew what I'd be getting: a ferro that functioned exactly the same as all of my other ferros. However, there was still that small seed of doubt. So I figured it was high time to find out for sure. Boy, am I ever glad I did!! 

Hard ferros, for I now know they do indeed exist, not only yield more sparks than soft ferros, they are also much easier to scrape and require a much shorter stroke. Although they produce less molten globs than soft ferros, they still produce some. One can scrape a hard ferro in the same manner as a soft ferro (very hard and fast) and get similar results. More sparks and less globs to be sure, yet still plenty of both. Most interestingly to me, it seems that a hard ferro requires 1/5 the force and 1/3 the speed to produce its sparks. Also an extremely short stroke. To an experienced adult, these differences are trivial. Where I think hard ferros will shine the most is kids and other inexperienced users. For them I cannot recommend the LMF Army ferro highly enough. 

No, I will not be getting rid of my soft ferros. For me they still work just fine. Experienced as I am, I can make any ferro get up and dance with any tinder. What I will be doing from now on is strongly encouraging noobs and those teaching children to start with the LMFs. 

Let me close with two thoughts. Why did it take me so long to try an LMF?? Why was there no one out there with facts instead of opinions? It seemed to me that everyone either used a hard ferro or used a soft ferro yet no one used both. It seemed to me then that the differences were more in their heads than the ferros. Yet, I can now assure you that once you have used both, you will forevermore know without any doubt whatsoever that there are hard and soft ferros and significant differences between them. 


Happy Trails Y'all!! 


"Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!" Philippians 4:4 NASB
"The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you." Philippians 4:9 NASB

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Re: Hard vs Soft Ferrocerium Fire Starters.

#2

Post by Baby Huey » Fri Aug 21, 2015 8:08 pm

Great write up. I will have to pick one of those up and give it a try. I usually use the UST StrikeForce because I like the larger base and rod for my large hands. It also has room in the handle to store tinder and keep it dry.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00930 ... ge_o09_s00
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Re: Hard vs Soft Ferrocerium Fire Starters.

#3

Post by DuxDawg » Sat Aug 22, 2015 7:45 am

Great choice! Been using UST StrikeForces since the early 90s. Great product. As far as I can tell, UST was the first to include a really good scraper. At least here in CONUS. Price has stayed low and very stable over the decades. IMHO, UST does a great job balancing functionality, durability and price. They're $15 on Amazon these days and well worth it.

The UST SparkForce is pretty nice too. Small enough to EDC or for dayhikes and only $4 at MVO. Can't fit the StrikeForce in the watch pocket on jeans!! SparkForces are the softest ferros I have found so far, which means they produce the most molten globs per scrape. Sparks are nice, but molten globs get the job done!! http://www.manventureoutpost.com/produc ... range.html

Most of my hiking knives have a Coghlans ferro on the sheath. I use DIY Ranger Bands (old bike inner tubes) on sheaths that don't have a ferro loop. I take the handle off and drill a hole in the ferro because the handles always come off anyhow. Then put a loop of 1/8" shockcord just big enough to pass over the other end of the ferro when stretched. Haven't lost one since I started doing that. Once you get the hang of it, the shockcord provides a secure grip while scraping. $3 at MVO.
http://www.manventureoutpost.com/produc ... arter.html

LMF Army is $13 + S&H at MVO. It's $17 shipped at Amazon.

You can pick up a 1/2"x5" ferro on eBay from axeprice or comelili for $6-$8. I have one at home for experimenting with different materials. It's a soft ferro so it works exactly like the Coghlans and USTs. For some reason those are priced very reasonably yet when you look at the 1/2"x6" they cost quite a lot more.

You can even get a 1"x6" ferro on eBay but it is $47. That monster would be perfect for the guys on the Alone show!! Once you go big, it's hard to make yourself use the smaller ferros!!

Happy Trails and plenty of 'em to y'all!!
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"The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you." Philippians 4:9 NASB

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Re: Hard vs Soft Ferrocerium Fire Starters.

#4

Post by TXyakr » Mon Oct 19, 2015 5:32 pm

From a users standpoint if it is very wet (tinder and twigs etc.) or just high humidity any ferrocerium rod/bar can be slowly scrapped with just about any sharp object, glass, stone, metal to create shavings that can be placed on the "fine" center portion of your tinder bundle. Then a fast hard strike or scrap to land at least one or many sparks on that pile of mostly mischmetal (approx. 75%) to light it on fire. The softer ones generally contain more magnesium and cerium etc. and are easier to scrape thus better for humid conditions but they obviously don't last as long. None will survive being left in a fire or very close to it, unfortunate mistake!

From a steel manufactures standpoint if you are making your own it all depends on how much of each elemental metal you put in the mix. I just buy cheap ones from eBay, they all work just fine for me, technique makes the most difference. However, I do know some people who make their own from the elemental metals mostly just for fun but also to try to get a desired spark type for different conditions.

The primary advantage of buying a particular brand is to get a nice comfortable handle (i.e. you are the new to it and strike the thing over and over instead of just making a good tinder bundle.) and to get the same mix of metals each time.

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Re: Hard vs Soft Ferrocerium Fire Starters.

#5

Post by DuxDawg » Tue Oct 20, 2015 5:03 pm

TXyakr wrote: I just buy cheap ones from eBay, they all work just fine for me,
Same here. Every one of the models of ferros that I have used can be made to work just fine. Some are a little easier than others, but not by much.

I have used The following ferros: Ultimate Survival Technologies (UST) StrikeForce, SparkForce, Sparkie & BlastMatch; FireSteel.com, Light My Fire, Coghlans, Bear Grylls, Tool Logic S7, the ferros that came with two knives (who's names escape me at the moment) and the ferros on Magnesium Alloy Fire Starter blocks (aka MFS) by Doans, Coghlans, Coleman and Harbor Freight. So at least 15 different ferros and with almost all of these I have used multiple instances of each model. I have worn out several of each of the StrikeForce, SparkForce, Coghlans and the ferros on many MFSs in the 25 years I've been using ferros.
The softer ones generally contain more magnesium and cerium etc. and are easier to scrape thus better for humid conditions but they obviously don't last as long.
Which brands or percentages of each metal do you consider soft? I have found the UST SparkForce to be hands down the softest ferro I have used. The hard ferros, such as LMF and FS.com, much easier to produce sparks with. Those two are also the ones that work most reliably with the short (1") push scrape and twist scrape (like turning a key) methods of scraping.
technique makes the most difference.
I agree. Technique plus tinder (selection and processing).
From a steel manufactures standpoint if you are making your own it all depends on how much of each elemental metal you put in the mix... I do know some people who make their own from the elemental metals
That sounds very interesting. How does one go about making a ferrocerium rod? Can it be done at home?
mostly just for fun
Are ferros that easy to make??
but also to try to get a desired spark type for different conditions.
Intriguing since there is almost zero difference is spark hotness between any of the ferros I have used and only a slight difference in ease of producing sparks or the ratio of molten globs vs fine sparks.
strike the thing over and over instead of just making a good tinder bundle.
With any char one scrape almost always produces an ember. With well selected and prepared tinder, less than ten (and often only one) scrapes will usually get you flame. Even with properly processed wet green wood still dripping sap you will need 50-200 scrapes depending upon species.

My favorite tinders with ferros are flash tinders such as cattail fluff, milkweed fluff, etc. Mixed 2/3 fluff to 1/3 other fine tinder (grass, pine needles, wood scrapings, etc) it will take off with a single scrape most times. My second faves are wood scrapings. Fatwood is the best but scrapings from any wood will work. Wood scrapings are finer than the finest feathers/curls yet coarser than dust.

IMHO people are being silly when they ignite feathers/curls (aka F/Cs) directly with a ferro. Even the finest are too coarse to work well. I believe that is a holdover from the days when a match or Zippo was commonly used to light feathersticks. Far better to use a finer tinder to light the F/Cs with. Wood scrapings can be done on and of the same stick the featherstick is being made of. Thus "One Stick Fires" using wood scrapings is doable and saves a lot of wear on the ferro.
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Re: Hard vs Soft Ferrocerium Fire Starters.

#6

Post by TXyakr » Wed Oct 21, 2015 8:33 am

@DuxDawg the only people I know who have been successful at making their own ferrocerium rods are those who forge their own blades for knifes and axes etc. in specialized shops personal or semi-comercial. I would not try it in my kitchen or my wife would be very upset.

Making a good tinder bundle deserves its own thread. Blooms from plants (such as cat-tail) but are seasonal and not available much of the year. Also often it is raining or just very humid or as soon as the sun goes down it starts to get more humid so I like to collect natural tinder earlier in the day as I am hiking or paddling along and protect it. Then save any synthetic I brought with me for emergencies. Making multiple shavings from a mostly magnesium alloy bar or ferro rod takes time and grinds down the striker bar or knife's spine (back side), I only do this when really necessary.

I consider the tinder bundle a more important technique to learn especially in many adverse real world conditions than the actual ignition or spark source which is not very difficult once you have mastered a dozen or more, and are confident you have many backups for most all situations you are likely to encounter.

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Re: Hard vs Soft Ferrocerium Fire Starters.

#7

Post by DuxDawg » Wed Oct 21, 2015 12:27 pm

TXyakr wrote:@DuxDawg the only people I know who have been successful at making their own ferrocerium rods are those who forge their own blades for knifes and axes etc. in specialized shops personal or semi-comercial. I would not try it in my kitchen or my wife would be very upset.
Are you talking about strikers for use with flint the rock or about ferros? I know of several who have made strikers in their backyards yet none who have made ferros. Since some components of ferros burn at 160°F, you're not making a ferro in a home blacksmithing forge.
Making a good tinder bundle deserves its own thread.
I agree!!
Blooms from plants (such as cat-tail) but are seasonal and not available much of the year.
Not around here.

I can find cattail (Typha latifolia) fluff for fire, usually within a half hour or less walk, anywhere in the Upper Midwest all year long.

Milkweed fluff (Common Milkweed - Asclepias syriaca) almost (it does get pretty scarce during June, July and August) all year long. When you pay attention, you will notice that many of the milkweed pods open facing the ground. The fluff still in these pods will be dry even after days of rain and can be found from August through Fall and Winter, into June. Nine months of avaiability of a tinder that can be used raw (uncharred) with flint the rock and steel (both the fluff and the ovum), ferro or flame is pretty good IMHO.

Reed (Phragmites australis) fluff isn't the best for fire but it is available all year long as well. Then there are the thistle downs and other fluffs, most of which are available from late summer into late Spring.

Let's not forget about grass. If you know where to look, there is usable grass even after days of pouring rain. Want a hint?

How do you think mice keep their babies dry?? Mouse nests, especially those of meadow vole and deer mice, are abundant, easy to find, always dry and readily available no matter the weather or time of year. As an added bonus, most of the processing has been done for us.

So yes, I am able to easily find usable fluff, even in pouring rain, all year long in the Upper MidWest. Obviously other areas may vary.
Also often it is raining or just very humid or as soon as the sun goes down it starts to get more humid so I like to collect natural tinder earlier in the day as I am hiking or paddling along and protect it. Then save any synthetic I brought with me for emergencies.
Same here. Dusk and dawn tend to have dew and be more likely to have rain. Late morning until early afternoon is the best time to gather tinder.
Making multiple shavings from a mostly magnesium alloy bar or ferro rod takes time and grinds down the striker bar or knife's spine (back side), I only do this when really necessary.
Pure magnesium works well, magnesium alloys work poorly to not at all. Neither are needed as they do nothing a ferro (which also contains magnesium) doesn't. I'll state that again: there is nothing a magnesium firestarter will ignite that a ferro won't ignite much much faster and vastly more easily. Magnesium for fire starting is a ripoff and one of many bushcraft myths.

Not to digress too far, but here is a brief summation of the origin of many bushcraft myths. (Such as: magnesium, paracord, saws on knife spines, a tough full tang knife, petroleum jellied cottonballs (PJ'd CBs), waxed cottonballs in toilet paper tubes, etc.) They came from military people, especially those interested in survival. Most often pilots, paratroopers and special forces. The two most important things to remember about what the promote are: A) they were in highly specialized circumstances that most people will never find themselves in and B) they were getting the materials for free.

Mors Kochanski and many others promoted the use of paracord simply because they were being given thousands of yards for free. Is it the best cordage? Far from it. Expensive, absorbs water, bulky, etc. Garden twines are far better options. Jute, sisal, etc for shelters and other light duties, as well as fire. Waxed or nylon for heavier duty and for waterproofness.

Ron Hood promoted PJ'd and waxed CBs for fire starting because, you guessed it, he was getting limitless quantities for free. Saws on knives were for cutting their way into or out of downed planes. Think about it, have you ever used a saw on the spine of a knife that worked 1/4 as well as a normal saw? Nope.

Magnesium was popular because it was pure and readily available. Chunks from machine shops, VW engine blocks, snowshoes, etc. Shame on Doans for not sicking to pure magnesium.

Magnesium alloy is the absolute worst way to start a fire. Slowest, most laborious, most finicky, most prone to failure, etc. Complete waste of time. Too much aluminum in the alloy and it will not ignite at all!! Anyone who hasn't figured this out, hasn't spent enough time actually using magnesium firestarters in the field.

What keeps these myths alive is people who never spend time actually using these items, or only use them a couple times in the backyard. Those like me who have spent hundreds of hours in the woods with each of these myths are painfully aware of just how completely inadequate they are.
I consider the tinder bundle a more important technique to learn especially in many adverse real world conditions than the actual ignition or spark source which is not very difficult once you have mastered a dozen or more, and are confident you have many backups for most all situations you are likely to encounter.
Yup. When most people fail at starting a fire, it is due to poor tinder selection and preparation. Especially when practicing primitive or less robust methods involving turning an ember, spark or fragile flame (think a single paper match) into a campfire. Once you are competent with tinder bundles, sustainable fires are easy - no matter the ignition source.

To take it a few steps further, when you can confidently and reliably take an ember half the size of a dry grain of rice to flame with a golfball sized tinder bundle in any weather, then starting fires - regardless of ignition method - becomes child's play.


Enjoying the conversation. Cheers!
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Re: Hard vs Soft Ferrocerium Fire Starters.

#8

Post by TXyakr » Thu Oct 22, 2015 7:56 am

DuxDawg wrote:Are you talking about strikers for use with flint the rock or about ferros? I know of several who have made strikers in their backyards yet none who have made ferros. Since some components of ferros burn at 160°F, you're not making a ferro in a home blacksmithing forge.
If you are making a striker for a natural "flint" like Chert, Obsidian etc than steel formed into something ergonomic is best. For a good quality Ferrocerium rod likewise an easy to hold steel striker works best but any sharp hard rock or the bottom of a broken glass bottle or very hard sea shell etc. may work as well. I often keep a large SS washer attached to the lacing on my boot/sandals as a last resort striker, but bracelet, around neck, belt or wherever with small ferro rod may work just as well for you. Many parts of Texas have abundant amounts of Chert as do OK, AR virtually all parts of the world. Just need to learn what to look for.

I never asked the folks melting down rare earth metals and magnesium how they did it but common sense tells me they avoided exposing the alloy to open flames. Magnesium (common metal) is highly flammable especially in small flakes but not as much in a bar, the others i.e. rare earth metals: Cerium, Lanthanum, Neodymium, Praseodymium are highly pyrophoric especially Cerium which is a large component of most ferro rods. But these do not necessarily burst into flames when heated carefully.

Most magnesium bars are not actually 100% pure magnesium but an alloy, it is more expensive to get a pure metal or element of anything and it corrodes very quickly. (i.e. reacts with other elements.) Chemistry 103 freshmen year if you did not test out due to AP classes from H.S.

These Magnesium Rods sandwiched with a Ferrocerium rod are small but should last as long as a disposable liquid fuel lighter, 500+ lights and have a hole and ring to attach them to your person, belt, knife, neck or wherever and cost about $2.50 each. Many other similar ones on eBay, Jet dot com, Amazon etc. I generally put in a vinyl tube to protect from breaking if it is very small like this, take to H.W. store find one that fits buy by the foot. I could post a photo but it is very obvious, loop cord thru hole in bottom so tube does not get lost, shock cord works best.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/2x-Survival-Dri ... Sw7aBVE3sM

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Re: Hard vs Soft Ferrocerium Fire Starters.

#9

Post by TXyakr » Thu Oct 22, 2015 9:28 am

DuxDawg wrote:I can find cattail (Typha latifolia) fluff for fire, usually within a half hour or less walk, anywhere in the Upper Midwest all year long.

Milkweed fluff (Common Milkweed - Asclepias syriaca) almost (it does get pretty scarce during June, July and August) all year long. When you pay attention, you will notice that many of the milkweed pods open facing the ground. The fluff still in these pods will be dry even after days of rain and can be found from August through Fall and Winter, into June. Nine months of avaiability of a tinder that can be used raw (uncharred) with flint the rock and steel (both the fluff and the ovum), ferro or flame is pretty good IMHO.

Reed (Phragmites australis) fluff isn't the best for fire but it is available all year long as well. Then there are the thistle downs and other fluffs, most of which are available from late summer into late Spring.
This is a good writeup on cattails from a reliable and academic source:
http://education.stonehill.edu/fieldgui ... attail.htm

I was trained to be prepared for the worst not tell others they can expect to find something they may not. Floods in Texas wiped out much of the vegetation along rivers and for hundreds of yards on both sides this past spring along with hundreds of homes, similar for South Carolina this has happened for thousands of years probably more millions or 100's of thousands of years ago when the world's climate was changing rapidly then as well. Areas where I expected to find cattail blooms and certain other plants were gone along many rivers I paddled and hiked near. The same for the 10 or so years of drought before that. Best to have multiple skill sets and not just rely on a few or what you can carry in your backpack. Like which woods work best for feather sticks and under which trees you may expect to gather the best squaw wood.

Even when plant booms are in season a sudden hailstorm may wipe them all out and you are left with nothing a few days later. I was once hit by a hail storm at 9 am, unusual time of day. By noon everyone at the wildlife refuge was gone, it was quite and peaceful that night with no one within miles of me ;) . Or a strong straight line wind may destroy them. If you never hike more than 2 days beyond the safety of your vehicle this will not be an issue for you, just walk back and drive home or to the nearest Four Seasons Hotel and order concierge or room service. :D

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Re: Hard vs Soft Ferrocerium Fire Starters.

#10

Post by DuxDawg » Thu Oct 22, 2015 6:09 pm

TXyakr wrote: any sharp hard rock or the bottom of a broken glass bottle or very hard sea shell etc. may work as well.
Yes. I've used the shells of river clams, oysters, black and green mussels, glass, rocks, tin cans, knives, saws, axes, files, sharpening tools, putty knives, olfa blades, razor knife blades, sandpaper, etc as scrapers on a ferro and ignited a wide variety of tinders. 
Many parts of Texas have abundant amounts of Chert as do OK, AR virtually all parts of the world. Just need to learn what to look for.
Some of the best flint I've used has come from TX. Quartzes are common around the world. Chalcedonies, cherts and flints are more scarce.
I never asked the folks melting down rare earth metals and magnesium how they did it but common sense tells me they avoided exposing the alloy to open flames.
The only way I have heard of to form ferrocerium rids is in an oxygen free environment using high pressure. Not something that can be done in a backyard, nor without great expense.
Magnesium (common metal) is highly flammable especially in small flakes but not as much in a bar, the others i.e. rare earth metals: Cerium, Lanthanum, Neodymium, Praseodymium are highly pyrophoric especially Cerium which is a large component of most ferro rods. But these do not necessarily burst into flames when heated carefully. Most magnesium bars are not actually 100% pure magnesium but an alloy, it is more expensive to get a pure metal or element of anything and it corrodes very quickly. (i.e. reacts with other elements.) Chemistry 103 freshmen year if you did not test out due to AP classes from H.S.
Yes. Well aware.

Most oxidation of metals stops fairly quickly as a layer builds up on the outside preventing further reactions. We see this on ferro rods as the shiny strip where we scraped turns dull grey in a few hours. Magnesium, aluminum, etc do this as well, whether they are pure or an alloy.

The issue with magnesium firestarters is not so much that they sell us an alloy (without stating it!!) because it is cheaper for them to manufacture. Though that ought to be an issue. The real issue is that the alloy is all but worthless for its intended purpose: starting fires.

The alloy is much harder thus vastly more difficult to scrape. Ever wonder why the instructions say to scrape with the cutting edge of a knife? Because pure magnesium is so soft it is easily cut with a knife. They changed the alloy but not the instructions!!

The scrapings of the alloy bars are dust and fine curls. The scrapings of pure magnesium are effortlessly produced long spiraling ribbons that ignite very easily and burn a long time. The exact opposite of the alloy!!

Summation: Pure magnesium = good. Magnesium alloy = waste of time.

Conclusion: Neither is worth the bother in my opinion. There are plenty of cheaper, easier and more readily available options that work better with much less effort.
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Re: Hard vs Soft Ferrocerium Fire Starters.

#11

Post by DuxDawg » Thu Oct 22, 2015 7:15 pm

TXyakr wrote: This is a good writeup on cattails from a reliable and academic source:
http://education.stonehill.edu/fieldgui ... attail.htm
A good link with excellent photos. "Most of this plant is edible at some point during its lifecycle." Which part of the cattail is your favorite to eat?
be prepared for the worst
I agree. "Prepare for the worst, hope for the best, expect something in between."
not tell others they can expect to find something they may not.
Others are on their own. It has never been my job to make the world smooth and safe for them. I reject outright that it is a task we should undertake. As Bilbo Baggins was fond of saying, "It's a dangerous thing, Frodo my lad, going out one's front door". Indeed it is. The only way they will prepare themselves for it is to take responsibility for themselves.

You will note that I qualified with "I have", "Upper MidWest" and "other areas vary". Not that it was needed. Just me going the extra mile. ;-)

In forty years of stomping the woods, with thousands of days and nights spent, I have never had a problem finding suitable fire making materials. Cattail fluff and milkweed fluff are among the better and, quite fortuitously, more readily available. Nothing is ever certain, but they are about as close to certain as anyone will ever find. Around here you are less likely to find air to breathe than those.

Guess what? If someone does not find them when they look for them, all is not yet lost. It is merely the opportunity to find something else that works! I have long looked at it as "surfing the woods". Taking the easy path (following game trails rather than busting brush where I don't have to), gathering the easy things (if something good enough is nearby the trail, why bust brush to (hopefully) find something better??) and gathering "on the hoof" (as I go) are only a few of the many habits that serve us well in the woods.

And yes, I have found hiking in the woods to be not a whit different from walking in the aisles of any store. Want water? Aisle 6! Go downhill and look for dense vegetation, certain types of vegetation, etc. Want acorns? Aisle 7! Hike uphill as most oaks prefer drier soil. And on and on... We can shop with money (stores) or time (woods) yet knowledge serves us well in either venue!!
Floods in Texas wiped out much of the vegetation along rivers and for hundreds of yards on both sides this past spring along with hundreds of homes, similar for South Carolina
That is very sad to hear. However, bet they deposited a whole lot of useful materials as well.
this has happened for thousands of years probably more millions or 100's of thousands of years ago
The earth is only six thousand years old. They have changed the so called dates of everything more times in my lifetime than a NASCAR team changes tires in a season. Among oh so many other signs that they are both guessing and promoting an agenda, not actually searching for truth as science was always intended to be.
Areas where I expected to find cattail blooms and certain other plants were gone along many rivers I paddled and hiked near. The same for the 10 or so years of drought before that.
Wild to hear about!!

Even after the worst storms up here there are plenty of cattail seed heads (fluff) from years past. Even after the worst droughts there are still cattails. Some heads are more than three years old and still have usable (for fire or insulation) fluff on them. Mostly we have ponds hereabouts. Flooding merely means thigh deep rather than ankle deep water when gathering, never an absence of materials.

By the way, the blooms of cattails are missed by most in early Spring. Most also miss the pollen, an easily gathered nutrient dense food high in protein. The mature seed heads, not the blooms, have the fluff we use for fire and insulation.
Best to have multiple skill sets and not just rely on a few or what you can carry in your backpack. Like which woods work best for feather sticks and under which trees you may expect to gather the best squaw wood.
And when, pray tell, have I ever advocated otherwise?? I am merely sharing my hard won experiences in the hopes that it helps others. I have read hundreds of books then spent thousands of hours practicing what they taught. Far more than most!! Unfortunately, most of the skills taught in the books written in the 1950s and earlier were all too vague and many were downright false. Among other reasons, I developed a tendency to right the wrongs wherever I see them.

I highly recommend carrying not only several ignition methods, but also some tinder. I always at least have F&S (Flint the rock and Steel plus char), ferro, Bic and fresnel along as well as some cotton balls or gauze, duct tape and Ranger bands (bike inner tubes).

Most of my fires (several each week, all year long) are started with F&S with all materials, except the steel and the char, gathered on that hike. As an extra challenge, sometimes I only use the steel and gather everything else on that hike. NUTs (a term I coined many years ago to describe Natural Uncharred Tinders that will catch the sparks from Flint the rock and Steel, producing an ember) require much more effort than chars (any properly charred natural material) and char mixes (any char mixed with certain uncharred natural materials) but they solve the "First Fire" dilemma. Plus, (re)discovering them teaches us so much about the world around us!!
By noon everyone at the wildlife refuge was gone, it was quite and peaceful that night with no one within miles of me ;)
Those are the best of times!!
If you never hike more than 2 days beyond the safety of your vehicle this will not be an issue for you, just walk back and drive home or to the nearest Four Seasons Hotel and order concierge or room service. :D
We pity the poor fools!! Sure, dayhiking and car camping make up most of my woods time. Yet the best trips were being weeks alone in the woods with only an occasional airplane or distant train whistle reminding me that the outside world still existed.

Happy Trails my friend!!
"Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!" Philippians 4:4 NASB
"The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you." Philippians 4:9 NASB

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Re: Hard vs Soft Ferrocerium Fire Starters.

#12

Post by DuxDawg » Thu Oct 22, 2015 7:25 pm

TXyakr wrote: Like which woods work best for feather sticks and under which trees you may expect to gather the best squaw wood.
The characteristics of woods, like tinder bundles, could easily fill not only their own threads, but perhaps their own forums!! It has always amazed me that we still use the terms hardwoods for deciduous trees and softwoods for conifers... even though there are many "softwoods", such as spruce, which are harder than many "hardwoods", such as basswood!!!

Cheers!!
"Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!" Philippians 4:4 NASB
"The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you." Philippians 4:9 NASB

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Re: Hard vs Soft Ferrocerium Fire Starters.

#13

Post by TXyakr » Fri Oct 23, 2015 11:00 am

DuxDawg wrote:
TXyakr wrote:
this has happened for thousands of years probably more millions or 100's of thousands of years ago
The earth is only six thousand years old. They have changed the so called dates of everything more times in my lifetime than a NASCAR team changes tires in a season. Among oh so many other signs that they are both guessing and promoting an agenda, not actually searching for truth as science was always intended to be.
The exact age of the earth is unknowable in my personal opinion. God could have done whatever he wanted to do, He is all powerful and it shows great arrogance by humans to attempt to constrain Him in a box. He could have created the universe with the appearance of great age to demonstrate to scientists that the world has the ability to go on for hundreds of thousands or millions of years and/or the record he gave Adam, Abraham and Moses could have been somewhat figurative not 100% literal. I accept what He tells me with humility and don't try to second guess Him or tell Him what He must have done and how exactly He did it. I am scienctifically trained and see no contraction between science and the Biblical record because I don't read into it more than what is actually there. The current Pope and I actually agree on some things, and I am not Catholic, was not raised Catholic, but I admire him as person who seeks to follow the example of Christ.

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Re: Hard vs Soft Ferrocerium Fire Starters.

#14

Post by DuxDawg » Fri Oct 23, 2015 2:50 pm

Ha ha! That always gets remarks. :-D

Agreed that it is unknowable. Also that there is no need for friction between science and religion. Indeed, science and religion complemented one another in the days of Baconian Reason and Scottish Commonsense. Sad that we ever abandoned that.

As to the catholic church and current pope...
Well, for once I'll show uncharacteristic restraint and just leave it at that.
"Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!" Philippians 4:4 NASB
"The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you." Philippians 4:9 NASB

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Re: Hard vs Soft Ferrocerium Fire Starters.

#15

Post by DuxDawg » Wed Oct 28, 2015 4:05 pm

Speaking of fire and ferro rods...

Be advised that though these are listed as the Army 2.0 model, I received an email from Woot this afternoon informing me that what was actually shipped is the 1.0 version. The ferrocerium rod is the same in both models. However, the scraper that comes with the 2.0 is vastly different. The handle and scraper on the 1.0 are the same as on the Coghlans and I can pick that up for $3. The 2.0 scraper is enough better to be worth it to me.

The 2.0 scraper allows me to use what I call the "Turn Key" method of ferro scraping. The Turn Key method is when we hold the scraper flat against the ferro with our off hand thumb, about an inch back from the tip of the ferro, then generate the sparks with a rapid twist of our wrist. The same motion as quickly turning a key in a lock. While this scraping method only works well with the better tinders (because it throws many sparks and few molten globs) it avoids scattering the tinder pile. Kids and beginners find it easier and more fun than traditional methods of scraping a ferro.

Anyhow, I just left a request for a full refund with Woot.

LMF 2.0
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00440VIYY

LMF 1.0
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0013L2DKU

Email from Woot Customer Service:

"We saw that you recently ordered a Light My Fire FireStarter from us and we think that’s awesome!

There’s just one problem: we accidentally listed the FireStarter on our site as the 2.0 model when we actually only have the 1.0 model. These FireStarters are the same, except that they don’t have a rubber grip on the scraper and they don’t come with a built-in whistle.

We feel super bad about our mistake, so to make it right, we’re going to knock $5 off of the price of the FireStarter. The money will be refunded directly to your original payment method."


By the way, the handle on both the ferro and the scraper on the Army 2.0 model is a well designed hard plastic with an ergonomic thumb scallop. Not rubber.


Edited to add: Shop with confidence. Woot issued a full refund.
"Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!" Philippians 4:4 NASB
"The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you." Philippians 4:9 NASB

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