When one hears about survivalists or about people living an primitive life or see survival shows on television, invariably we are exposed to friction fires. A person who is a survivalist needs to know how to light friction fires. Primitive living is all about replicating how our ancestors started friction fires. Bear Grylls and his many avatars on television show us how to make friction fires. Obviously, this is something that every survivalist and every adventurer and every person heading out into the wilderness needs to know, right? Well, yes and no.
Fire is what changed the face of human civilisation. When fire was discovered, our ancestors could cook their food to make it more palatable and easier to digest. It provided light, warmth and was a way one could fashion weapons. When there were no lighters or matchboxes, our ancestors rubbed sticks together to start a fire. Or strike stones against each other. Yes, fire did change the world.
But when we look at the modern world and want to become a survivalist, live off the land, recreate the way of life of our forefathers, instinctively we want to learn how to start friction fires. And it is a good skill to tuck away, for times of emergencies. However, it is extremely difficult to start fire by rubbing sticks together. You need the ideal wood, the tinder needs to be dry, a lot of things need to come together to get an ember. And when you really need a fire, you are probably in dire straits - cold, hungry, thirsty, fatigued, lost, injured. This is not the best time to forage for materials with which you can start a fire by friction.
It is much easier to fall back on the modern world. A ferrocerium rod is one of the finest inventions there could be for a survivor. A single strike will create a spark and if you have dry tinder, this spark will light it. And it almost never fails. It will work in every kind of weather, whether it is fifty degrees in the shade or forty below freezing. You can take a swim in the river, wet your ferro rod, and it will still create a spark. If you hang it around your neck with some cord, you will never ever lose it ... even if you have lost everything else. And, a ferro rod will last forever. You need to practice with it so that you can light your tinder with one or two strikes. A four inch rod can last you at least a decade.
To make life even easier, drop a couple of disposable lighters in your trouser pockets. These are not as reliable as a ferro rod, though. They sometimes fail to work entirely for no reason at all. If they get wet, they become temperamental. You could run out of fluid. But a working lighter is a whole lot easier to start fires with compared to rubbing sticks together. Carry three or four. They weigh next to nothing and when they work, they are worth their weight in gold.
Go ahead a learn how to start friction fires so that you know at the back of your mind that you know how to do it. But put your money on a ferrocerium rod.