FireSteel Diameter and Sparks

FireSteel Diameter and Sparks

I am often asked why larger FireSteels give larger sparks than smaller FireSteels.  Of course this observation follows simple laws of physics and chemistry.

Fortunately for us, Raphael F., a loyal customer in SunnyVale California has taken the time to draw up a simple chart showing his perspective on the matter. Since a picture is worth a thousand words, here it is:

FireSteel Diameter vs Metal Exposed

The blue circles represent the diameter of the FireSteel rods. In this case we can pretend the smaller circle is one end of a 1/4-inch diameter Ranger FireSteel rod and the larger circle is one end of a 1/2-inch diameter Bunker FireSteel rod.

According to Raphael's chart, assuming you scraped both rods identically (the same blade material, sharpness of blade, blade angle, pressure exerted, and speed of scraping action ), the larger rod will give more sparks because the scrape is exposing a wider area of fresh material.

When tiny particles of fresh metal from the FireSteel rod are exposed to the oxygen in the air, they spontaneously ignite. This is what creates the sparks.

Choosing a FireSteel Rod Size

Now of course if you wanted to obtain the absolutely largest sparks imaginable from a FireSteel, then all you have to do is scape a FireSteel rod that is the diameter of a train locomotive using something like the propeller blade off an aircraft carrier.

But is this practical? I don't know about you but I am not going to go hiking with or store in my preparedness cache anything quite that size.

And there is no need to.

First off, let me assure you that all of our FireSteel rods from the 1/8th-inch diameter Tiny FireSteel to the 1-inch diameter Magnum FireSteel are made from the exact same formula calculated to give the largest most robust sparks.

The main consideration is to choose a FireSteel size that fits your needs. A few examples from experienced FireSteel users:

  1. Do you want to tuck a FireSteel rod into something small or where there is not much room so that you have it in case of emergency? The Tiny FireSteel, Mini Firesteel, or a Pup FireSteel may fit well in your wallet or in an Altoids tin.
  2. Perhaps you are a scout master and would like to teach young people how to start a fire with a FireSteel. The 1/4 x 3-inch Ranger FireSteel rod is often a good choice. The Ranger FireSteel rod is easy to hold onto, gives great sparks, is inexpensive, and can be used to make hundreds of fires. There should be plenty of FireSteel rod left after the demonstration for the scouts to include them in their survival kits.
  3. The military tends to prefer the 3/8 x 4-inch Armageddon FireSteels. They often like the built in scraper and lanyard option because this makes a ready to go fire-making kit. The rod is a good sized firesteel for use in field conditions where you want good grip on the rod, have the ability to make thousands of fires, and the rod is not so small so as to easily get lost amongst your gear or if you drop it on the ground.

The key is to select the size FireSteel you can best use according to the size and weight limits you set for the job you intend to use them for. Obviously larger FireSteels take up more space, weigh more than, and are a bit easier to hold onto than smaller FireSteels. Smaller FireSteels take up less space and weigh less than larger FireSteels.

A large Selection Of FireSteels to Choose From

Ron Fontaine Wilderness Survival Expert has a very large selection of FireSteel rods to fit your needs. Blank firesteel rods, firesteel rods with lanyard holes, firesteel rods with scrapers and or firesteel magnesium tinder.

The key is to find what works for your needs and personal preference.  Whatever you choose, you can't go wrong: FireSteels are well known for their large robust sparks and reliability.

Enjoy the day and have fun making Fires!

Ron Fontaine
The Great North Woods

Dec 17th 2014 Ron Fontaine

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