If you’re already a fan of ferrocerium spark rods, then you know how indestructible and long lasting they can be. These fire starting tools are completely unaffected by water, which would kill your matches or even some lighters. Spark rods are also impervious to the degradation of time. The spark rod you’re using now will work just as well in a few decades, providing you don’t lose it or use it up entirely. But before you run off and buy the first product you see, you should know that not all spark rods are equal. I recently had the chance to work with a product from Solo Scientific, a company who is committed to keeping production in the U.S. Here’s what I found out when I got the opportunity to light stuff on fire with their Aurora 2SA.

The knurled grip of this fire making tool is exceptional–bare handed or gloved, and even when wet. The knurling is so aggressive that if it wasn’t made from lightweight aluminum, you could use the rough surface as a rasp. Unscrew the tool’s handle and you’ll find a 1 ¾- by ¼-inch ferro rod. Like with any spark rod, the operation of the 2SA is dead simple. Scrape the striker blade briskly against the ferro rod, aiming the tool into some fluffy dry tinder at point-blank range. The sparks of ferrocerium fly off into your tinder, somewhere around the temperature of 3,000 degrees F. If your tinder is made from fine fibers, like cotton balls or dryer lint, then it should ignite on the first spark. Courser tinder gathered in the field may take a few extra strikes, but it shouldn’t take many. The quality of the ferrocerium selected for this tool is right up there with the best that are currently available. I was able to shoot massive sparks more than three feet with this device. These are the main things you need to know about this fire builder’s friend:

– It weighs only 1.6 ounces
– It sprays intense, huge sparks
– The aluminum case and handle offer great grip
– It’s proudly made in the USA
– All products from this company have a lifetime warranty

My favorite little feature about the tool is the superalloy blade, which is made from tungsten, carbide, and cobalt. The crisp, sharp edge should outlive every other part of the kit, and probably all of us, too. The superalloy version of the Aurora retails for $28, while the other models have a 440C stainless steel blade and retail for $23.