Making a fire with your Knife Necklace

Sparks stretch to flame - Wilder Craftforms from Jenna Collins on Vimeo.

How to make a fire with your Knife Necklace and Ferrocerium Fire Starter

Fire is essential to survival.
You need it for warmth, to cook food, and to boil water for purification. Ferro rods are fire starters. The rod and steel together will not produce instant fire, only sparks. Together with suitable kindling, you can create fire.

I find this method of fire starting brings one not only closer to, and more aware of their natural surroundings, but also oneself. From searching, selecting, and arranging the appropriate kindling, to learning about the plants you use, to patience and focus in the process. While butane lighters may work faster and easier in most situations, a ferro rod can be a great back up, as it can get wet and still work. A reason why it is loved by many wilderness survival enthusiasts.  It’s use can also create a more intimate experience with your environment, the wilderness, and fire making. Your tools are as effective as your ability to use them.

Here are some tips for making a fire with the ferro rod and knife blade.

Remove the coating -
The ferro rods come with a coating that prevents oxidation and scraping during manufacturing. This coating needs to be removed before sparks can fly. If you just scrape the rod with the back side of the knife blade as you would when creating sparks, this will reveal the silver ferrocerium.

Scrape hard -
When you make a spark, you are removing white-hot pieces of the ferro with the knife. The knife blade is damascus steel. The most effective method is to forcefully scrape the entire length of the rod using the back side edge of the knife blade. Do not use the sharp side as it could make the blade blunt.

Prepare effective tinder -
All the sparks in the world won’t help you if you can’t catch one and make it into a fire. To get the spark to a fire, you need some fine kindling or fire starter. You’ll need a fine, fuzzy, plant based tinder which can catch with sparks. For example, cotton balls and dryer lint are a perfect tinder, so many plant based materials as fine as these are likely to work. I like to create a ‘nest’. A bird’s nest lookalike with the finest materials in the middle to spark in to, and slightly larger materials (e.g. dry grass or ferns) on the outer edge to catch from the initial flame.

Use the correct technique -
Angle the back of the blade and use one of the 90 degree angle corners to strike the rod. Get as close as you can to the tinder, and strike the steel down the rod flying the sparks into the tinder.

Once a spark catches on, be gentle with the nest.  Take a moment to be slow and steady with your breath. Lift the nest upright to head height and gently blowing to assist the flame and it's natural ways of catching onwards.

Patience is a virtue in this process.  May your tools serve you well, and your connection to nature augment like the flame.

My wild love,

- 35mm Film photography, Nikon FM2