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How to use a fire starter

14 October 2015



A simple and short “how to” video on using a fire-steel:.  This one is a magnesium alloy rod fire starter manufactured for and retailed by Trek-Mates. This particular model is no longer available, but there are others produced by different companies using a variety of similar materials.

The main differences tend to be in the length and thickness of the rod, the design of the handle and the type of scraper supplied.

If you are going to use your fire steel in the manner shown in this video then you’ll most likely benefit from a “longish” rod (7-10 cms) and with a substantial diameter (a minimum of 9 mm).  Some also come in slab format, ideal if you intend to make large piles of magnesium scrapings to ignite your chosen tinder.


  • Magnesium  burns at  3100C, hot enough to light dry tinder.
  • Moisture and humidity will have not impact on it’s ability to burn
  • You don’t need to dry-out a wet rod, just wipe off the moisture.
  • You don’t need a supply of petrol or gas for it to work.
  • A single strike will light volatile fumes – even from fatwood


  • Requires a bit of patience in use
  • Not all alloys have the right balance between shedding fragments and sparking when scraped.
  • Softer rods can wear quite quickly and you may need to replace them frequently.
  • May progressively discolour your scraper/striker.
  • You need to keep your scraper edge “fresh”.


More about lighting wood and foraged fuel camping stoves…

Here is a longer video on lighting tinder in the fire base of a Kelly Kettle, includes information of the survival tool scraper.
Easy Lighting : Kelly Kettle

Read about my own conversion to foraged fuel
Playing With Fire

Using the Kelly Kettle Trekker model wood burning, foraged fuel, camping stove
All Fired Up : Kelly Kettle

Last edited: 31 August 2016




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