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Why is my ferro rod corroding and can I stop it?

Discussion in 'General EDC Discussion' started by xbanker, May 23, 2012.

  1. xbanker
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    xbanker Geriatric Admin
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    This question was posted in a Gear Review thread. Created this new thread to respond rather than drift the other thread too far.

    Frequent topic on many a forum since ferro rods came on the scene, but I've yet to read a conclusive, well-supported answer. Furthermore, the phenom you describe seems to happen randomly. Its been called rust, oxidation and corrosion. Whatever, it can destroy a rod.

    Anecdotal evidence seems to point to humidity as the culprit, particularly when near salt water. Yet on UK-based forums (cited since nuphoria resides in UK), some have experienced, while others have had zero problems — in some cases, same product, same region, same storage method.

    Here are the causes I've seen discussed. Who knows. Might be a combination.
    • Humidity
    • Direct exposure to water, particularly saltwater
    • Manufacturing defect
    • Reaction to other materials in the storage environment
    • Some say type of rod makes a difference, e.g. ferro rod vs. mischmetal rod (there is a difference; the mix of components)
    In some cases, deterioration takes the form of gray/white powder — the rod turning to dust. Other times, small to large pitting occurs. Some people have been successful removing the dust with water, drying and coating the rod with clear fingernail polish or some other substance (oil, lacquer, Vaseline etc). And the condition doesn't return. Others have nuphoria'soutcome. The corrosion continues.

    Why nuphoria's resumed corroding might be because surface cleaning didn't remove all, and the rod started corroding from within (strictly a WAG).

    Some people coat their rod with clear nail polish immediately after acquiring, and never have a problem. I've never coated a rod and have never had a problem (some rods 6+ years-old). Worth noting, I live in Arizona where humidity is normally very low.

    Others seal in a heat shrink tube. Not a fan, because doing so hides the rod's condition from view. Hate to need it under actual circumstances, only to find it's well on its way to becoming dust or badly pitted.

    0.jpg
    ferrocium_corrosion_537a.jpg
    images.jpg
    Striker2.jpg
     
    Last edited by xbanker, May 23, 2012
  2. SAKplumber
    • In Omnia Paratus

    SAKplumber EDC Junkie!!!!!

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    Wow. I never heard of this. I need to keep an eye on mine as I live in a rather humid area. The first pic there looks like a water heater anode rod after being in water for several years. That kind of erosion is due to hardness of water. I can't imagine what is causing that on a ferro rod.
     
  3. temujin

    temujin Uber Prepared

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    I have had ferro rods disintegrate into a pile of gray dust just like this.
     
  4. dewildeman

    dewildeman Loaded Pockets

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    Wow, I've heard of this but just assumed it was light pitting. BTW, I was going though a junk draw yesterday and ran across an old Scout firestarter rod. Who knows how many years it's been there. A quick look at it showed no corrosion. The drawer is in an enclosed unheated porch and the humitity here in Illinois runs in the high 90's in the summer.
     
  5. Sriracha

    Sriracha Loaded Pockets

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    I have had a ferro rod for 5 years sitting around. Looks fine. Maybe you have ferroherpes? Try rubbing it down in oil, (pun not intended).
     
    ATF628 likes this.
  6. floater

    floater Loaded Pockets

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    Question for the manufacturer.

    I was on a bicycle tour and had one do this in the pannier, I think it was dust from the type of gravel on the road I was on, lyme? or who knows what but its obviously a chemical reaction going on...
     
  7. Kilted1

    Kilted1 Loaded Pockets

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    A metal compound that's about one fifth iron, who's very existence is based on it's ability to produce an exothermic oxidation reaction. Is it really that surprising that it will rust?

    Might try a light coating of oil and most of all, keep it dry. Not sure what the oil would do to it, I may have to try it out and see. Would be bad if it either quit working or if the whole thing cooked off at once.

    I always thought things like the Exotac Nanostriker were overkill to the point of silliness. Now I'm not so sure. Seems like a good idea to keep your firestick in a nice sealed container where it stays dry and can't contact anything it might react with.
     
  8. xbanker
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    xbanker Geriatric Admin
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    You could fit my knowledge of metallurgy into a thimble and have room left over.

    That said, Yes I am surprised at the reports I've read of "rusting" (corroding) in purportedly dry storage environments. Maybe more correctly, I'm surprised at the reported speed and extent of the corrosion. I'm puzzled at the seeming inconsistency with which it happens given supposedly similar circumstances. And why don't all rods eventually turn to dust or pit? Some go forever without deterioration.

    Inquiring minds want to know. ;)
     
  9. strongblackcoffee

    strongblackcoffee Loaded Pockets

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    Corrosion and the ability to have it on my keychain (without accidentally sparking along a key or such) led me to invest in a Exotac nanoStriker. I love it and cannot recommend it highly enough! I actually bought the XL version too!
     
  10. mrlysle

    mrlysle Loaded Pockets

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    Spray the rods with WD-40, let 'em dry, or wipe them off, and store in a plastic ziplock bag. I keep mine like that in my Max Gearslinger.

    Jeff. :)
     
  11. Kilted1

    Kilted1 Loaded Pockets

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    Looking at the above photos, it looks like all but the top one have some kind of electro-chemical reaction to something else it's been in contact with. This can happen with some combinations of metals like aluminum and steel, copper and steel, magnesium and steel, silver and steel. Seems like steel is a common element but these are just examples that I'm aware of.

    I'd be curious to know how those rods were stored and what, if anything, they were in contact with.
     
  12. jzmtl

    jzmtl Loaded Pockets

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    I've gotten mine wet, stored in humid conditions, carried on keychain which contacts sweat, and I've never seen anything like that.
     
  13. xbanker
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    xbanker Geriatric Admin
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    Illustrates one of those inconsistencies I mentioned. Which suggests to me a cause related to the composition of certain rods (which can vary among manufacturers) or as Kilted1 commented, "what, if anything, they were in contact with."

    Points out one thing, if you've got any rods squirreled away in kits, good idea to inspect from time-to-time.
     
    Last edited by xbanker, May 24, 2012
  14. nuphoria

    nuphoria Loaded Pockets

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    Firstly, thanks for starting a new thread to discuss my corrosion issue!

    Mine is kept in an airtight box with a few survival type things so I don't know about humidity being the culprit, however I also notice that I had a small packet of salt in the same box...wondering if that could have caused some kind of oxidative reaction?

    I'm a geneticist rather than a chemist per se, so not always up on these things :D

    My plan is to now remove it from all the other stuff, clean it up and coat it again and store it separately, then see what happens.
     
  15. nuphoria

    nuphoria Loaded Pockets

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    Just for reference, this is it before I try doing something:

    [​IMG]

    In case anyone's curious, the steel was bought as a blank, then I drilled out a small Alu capsule and glued it on the end with epoxy. Serves as a handle and a storage device for tinder - currently cotton wool with petroleum jelly.

    I made this ages before RAT made a very similar thing, and mine cost about £6 ;)
     
  16. Kilted1

    Kilted1 Loaded Pockets

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    It could be some contaminant in the metal itself. Lots of companies sell these things but how many producers of the alloy are there in the world? Could be that one or a few of the producers aren't super big on quality control. I think this is the point that xbanker was getting to above.

    Re: post #7. "Exothermic oxidation reaction" = fire. :D

    I'm not a chemist, metallurgist or even a geneticist, just a simple phone guy with a fair head for science and lots of slack time to read up on whatever interests me.

    All this makes me want to do some experimenting. Anyone know a cheap source of ferro-rods? ...wonder, where did I put that bag of dead Bic lighters...
     
  17. xbanker
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    xbanker Geriatric Admin
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    My uneducated guess is that you've stumbled upon something. Salt hasn't always been a factor in instances cited around the web, but saltwater and/or salt air are sometimes mentioned (not to discount the near-certainty there are other substances that can cause corrosion too). Also interesting to note ... your corrosion has taken the form of the grayish surface powder, whereas other examples (see photos in initial post) manifest as pitting (both small and large) with no "dust" present (different causes? different effects?).

    [Edit to include info in Kilted1's post]

    Or, could it be that certain "recipes" for manufacturing these make them more susceptible to the corrosion effect, depending on what they're exposed to? From what I've read, there's a wide range of "formulas" for manufacturing these, all loosely referred to as "ferrocerium" or "mischmetal," with no industry-standard.
     
    Last edited by xbanker, May 25, 2012
  18. vegassprky
    • GITD Manix 2XL Owner
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    vegassprky Loaded Circuits

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    Maybe dissimiliar metals caused an reaction. Like copper water pipe and steel support touching in a building setting?????????
     
  19. strongblackcoffee

    strongblackcoffee Loaded Pockets

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    Maybe it's like the same chemical reaction as on the corrosion blocks on yachts?
     
  20. bigfoot

    bigfoot Loaded Pockets

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    Been coating mine using the nail polish trick. Works great! No corrosion over a couple years' time.
     
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