A better way to use Coghlan's magnesium fire starter

David Delaney
July 1, 2009

I wince when I see the precious edge of a knife being used to pare magnesium, or worse, to strike sparks, off a Coghlan’s magnesium fire starter. (See Coghlan's #7870, magnesium fire starter)

Instead, break off the end of a fine-tooth hacksaw blade to the length of the magnesium block. Clamp the hack saw blade in a vise or a in a pair of vise grip pliers to break the blade. Join the piece of hack saw blade to the fire starter block with a short lanyard to keep them together. Use the teeth of the hack saw to make magnesium filings. Use the back of the hack saw to strike sparks.

It is much easier to make magnesium filings with the hacksaw blade than to shave the magnesium block with a knife.

The very hard high-carbon hacksaw blade will make a much bigger shower of sparks from the
fire starter “flint” attached to the magnesium block than a stainless steel knife. You may have to stroke the "flint" a couple of times to clear oxidation.  Much less motion is required with the back of the  hack saw blade than with the back of a stainless steel knife to make an adequate shower of sparks  -- you are much less likely to disturb your pile of magnesium filings and other tinder.