Spark rods (aka ferrocerium, firesteels, flints and ferro rods) have been around for more than 100 years, and while the exact recipe varies, all versions of this synthetic alloy can make a shower of hot sparks when scraped with a rough surface or sharp edge. Created in 1903 by the Austrian inventor Carl Auer von Welsbach, ferrocerium is still called Auermetall in Europe as a nod to its creator. Typically composed of 21% iron, 42% cerium, 24% lanthanum and roughly 4% each of praseodymium, neodymium, and magnesium – this magic metal owes its pyrophoric powers to the low ignition temperature of cerium (igniting between 302 and 356 degrees Fahrenheit). Once this element starts to burn in a thin metal scraping, the other elements begin to burn and the resulting shower of sparks can exceed 5000 degrees. Now that you have a little info on the history and composition of spark rods, let’s look at a few ways to make this tool work more effectively.