It's Late February and even though I know Spring is right around the corner, the Winter cold feels as though it's here to stay...
All the same, cold or not, today's initiative is simple. I'm out to finish final field tests for our new 6-Sided Hexå Fire Starter, show you all how to use a ferro rod, and to make a great fire to cook some food.
Collect Dry Tinder Materials.
For the past hour or so I have huffed around with a backpack that is far too heavy containing all of the winter gear that I'll need for the night. Upon scouring the ridgeline for a camp that is both flat and rich with resources, I find it. I dump my pack, take a drink from my canteen and begin collecting tinder materials.
In no time, I stumble upon dried grass which will ignite and burn very hot as soon as I secure an open flame.
Just a few yards away I find a generous amount of dried moss as I'm scanning the ground. This is my first go-around with this type of moss as a fire starting aid. But I'm positive once I remove the wet roots, leaving only the dry portions that it will catch a spark with ease.
Tip: If you're struggling to find tinder sources that are dry, collect the driest materials you can find in advance of needing them. Place them on a dark tarp, jacket or another dry surface in the sun. If the sun is not out, place them in a pocket closest to the core of your body to dry.
Gather Wood & Prepare your New Ferro Rod.
I proceed to gather up small kindling of assorted sizes from a dead pine tree and saw up some larger pieces of wood to use as fuel once my fire is maintaining itself.
In all of my excitement over the resources surrounding me, I get my fire steel out only to notice I forgot to scrape off the black coating before I slipped it into my pocket. A few long strokes across the fire steel has exposed the silver portion underneath and I'm throwing a shower sparks.
Ferro Rod Techniques.
As I kneel down to my tinder sources, just outside of my fire ring, I firmly plant my Hexå Fire Starter into the dried moss. Firmly holding the scraper at a 45º angle I push away from my body for the entire length of the fire starter releasing a shower of 5,500º sparks.
Tip: With this approach, be careful to stop just before you hit your tinder source (failing to do so will extinguish your ember).
This method of pushing the striker towards your tinder source can work in a lot of cases. But it is not the only method. You can also pull the fire starter away from the tinder bundle while holding your scraper at a 45º angle. I have and do use both methods. It just depends on the tinder source. I would recommend you try both and find what you prefer.
When You Have Open-Flame.
In very few scrapes, the Hexå Fire Starter did what it needed to do. I had an open flame. I allowed the moss to be overtaken in flames, then laid my dried grass on top to be engulfed as well. Then, I proceeded to layer on twigs, kindling and eventually my fuel for a sustained cooking/warming fire.
For the longest time, I have advocated that an easy to use ferrocerium rod is the most important thing that you can add to your fire kit.
As seen above, they can be fully submerged, brought back above the surface, dried off and work immediately. This kind of reliability is what you need when you're out on any type of adventure...Be it sunny and 95º, or rainy and 30º.
If you like the Ferro Rod seen in Field Notes 02, you can pick it up for yourself below: