The Swedish Fire Steel fire starter comes in three models:
The Mini model is available in orange, weighs .5 oz., is 3 inches long and is rated for approximately 1500 uses.
The Scout model is available in red, weighs 1 oz., is 3 inches long and is rated for approximately 3000 uses.
The Army model is available in black, weighs 2 oz., is 3 3/4 inches long and is rated for approximately 12,000 uses.
The fire starter consists of a steel striker and a composite metal rod attached together on a lanyard to keep everything together. The metal rod is composed of ferrocerium, an alloy of iron and mischmetal (primarily cerium) and iron. When you first get your Fire Steel it will have a clear protective coating on the metal to prevent corrosion, simply scrape this coating off before first use.
The fire starter produces numerous hot (5,400 degree F) sparks when the attached striker is stroked along the main shaft. The sparks lodge in tinder (not included) and voila! Fire!
Having good tinder is key to the success of this process. My favorite tinders are cotton balls saturated with petroleum jelly or a few shreds of birchbark. In fact, my fire kit now includes a small ziploc bag with both items. One technique to keep your tinder from scattering when striking is to hold the striker still and pull the shaft upwards or away from the tinder so that you can create sparks without scatting the tinder.
Starting a fire with a Swedish Fire Steel
Build your fire platform/layout and organize your tinder into a pile. Have additional tinder and small kindling available.
Holding the striker in one hand and the Fire Steel rod with the other hand make contact with the striker at an angle to the rod over the tinder.
Using some force to keep the striker and rod engaged, pull the “slowly down” with the thumb of hand holding the Fire Steel.
You can also use the Swedish Fire Starter to ignite your canister or liquid fuel stove.