How to Use a Magnesium Fire Starter

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A magnesium fire starter is one of the most standard and popular outdoor tools available in the market. They’re often used by people on survival missions and military personnel, and are available in various shapes and sizes in gear shops all over the country.

Magnesium fire starters are reliable, affordable and waterproof. Due to these characteristics, they are seen by many as effective alternatives to matches. For others who go on camping trips often, they prefer to take magnesium fire starters with them for emergency situations.

Unlike many methods of starting a fire, the magnesium fire starter doesn’t require particularly dangerous accelerants. All you need to do is take off a few shavings from the block and have the shavings placed on dry grass. That’s it; you have your fuel, and your fire is ready to be lit. Just spin the block and strike the metal with your blade. This action causes sparks to shoot out, and the metal shavings are ignited.

As soon as it gets ignited with a spark, magnesium tends to burn quickly, with a burning temperature of 5,610 Fahrenheit (the equivalent of 3098.8 ˚C). With this temperature, your grass and leaves will promptly catch fire, and you can grow your fire by adding some twigs and sticks.

However, there’s a bit of a warning for the user. While the magnesium fire starter works, it is not entirely foolproof. To ensure that you are safe, it is always recommended that you practice it a few times, and do so in an environment that is safe and controlled. Then, when you’ve been able to master this, you can move on to try it in the woods and see how it works for you.

Starting a Fire with Magnesium – Prepare the Site

The first thing you need to get done is to select a proper site for the fire. When you’re doing this, there are some factors that you need to put into consideration. These include precipitation level, the direction and intensity of the wind, the nearness to anything of value (in case you can’t control the fire), and the access to your cooking or your camping site. Based on experience, it is always recommended that you select a pre-existing fire site that is being frequented by people regularly.

Have Your Tinder and Wood Ready

Your fire will be built on something; that’s the base, and that is what you need wood and tinder for.

Not that the base of your fire will need to be as dry as it can possibly get. If you’re outdoors, you can look around you for a dead tree and make use of its bar. On top of this, you can build a bunch of tinder by collecting twigs and pieces of dry grass that are very small. You can also create a fire with sapwood or dry ark.

If you feel that you want to grow the fire, then you can collect a lot of small twigs. Also, as the fire grows, you’ll need some slightly larger sticks at the ready.

Shave the Magnesium

Get a decent knife (preferably, on that has a locking or fixed blade) and very carefully, grind or shave off the magnesium and put it into place. Magnesium can easily be blown away by the wind, so make sure that you perform this action in an area that is a bit sheltered. You can take as much time as you want, as long as you build a decent pile that can easily start a fire.

Then, Spark It

Most models of magnesium fire starters have the opposite side of the magnesium rod as the spot where the spark is made. Just get your blade and rasp it against the Ferro rod, and you’re ready.

However, it is always recommended that you control the sparks by moving the Ferro up while you hold the blade in a sale position. The only problem here is that this is easier said than done. Still, it’s possible.

Quick Tip: Some knives make it possible for you to use the back of their blade to shave the magnesium or spark the Ferro this way, you won’t risk dulling their sharp end while doing these tasks. This method is actually quite conventional, especially when you’re using a knife that has a squared-off, sharp back.

If you’re making use of the back of a folding blade, then it is recommended that you close the knife first and get the spark going with the exposed metal part. You can also make our spar with a lot of other metallic objects (and in some cases- such as when you’re already a pro- some pieces of glass).

You will need to exert some considerable amount of force if you want to get a good spark, so try to push hard while you rasp. If you are using the cutting side of the blade, then you can use the back section, close to the middle, so that you don’t end up dulling the front of the cutting side, which is usually the most commonly used part.

Ferro can be unpredictable at times, so try to experiment with it and get yourself familiar with its characteristics. Also, always keep in mind that the blade will be sharp. Don’t cut yourself.

Build the Fire

As soon as sufficient spark falls on the magnesium, then you get a fire. However, at this point, the fire is small, and it won’t last longs. So, use it judiciously; get small sticks, tiny grass pieces, and any other flammable material that you can get your hands on. As soon as the flames get going, build the fire as you see fit.

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A former rocket scientist (really) who has traveled the world, father, freedom lover, hates to stay indoors, and loves wild places, people and things. PC challenged, irreverent but always relevant and always looking to learn new things.

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Vagus

I’ve been told that magnesium fire starters require a unique fire lay because the magnesium will burn through traditional styles, but I’ve never been able to find an example of what this fire lay should be? Is it just an urban legend?