VIDEO: Fire from a Sharpie Marker!

We’ve covered a lot of ways to get fire, from flint and steel to natural tinders. But in our latest video, Jason Salyer covers one that we haven’t seen before. The common Sharpie marker is a part of many individuals’ everyday carry, but in a survival situation, it could be just the thing to dry out tinder or accelerate a small flame into a warming fire.

This type of knowledge may seem trivial, but you never know when it might be the difference between starting a fire and not. As Jason shows, you can light a Sharpie with a ferro rod, but it also acts as a great flame extender to preserve lighter fuel or other ignition resources.

What other unusual or unexpected survival tips do you know? Please share them in the comments below.

READ MORE: What’s the Safest Place in the U.S. During an SHTF Scenario?

Written by

Jason has years of experience as a professional strength and conditioning coach, working with everyone from college athletes to Naval Special Operations. He's also an avid camper, hunter, fisherman, and general outdoorsman. If that isn't enough, he also frequently heads out for long-distance dual-sport motorcycle trips, where his improvisation and survival skills are honed.

Latest comments
  • Always great to learn something new. I always have Sharpies in my pocket.

  • Thank you for sharing your skills, Jason! That Sharpy was one of my late husbands favorite all time carry on him items. He would have loved this video! I feel much better knowing that if water safe matches run out, the Sharpy will do the trick with a knife and the ferro rod. Blessings to you and yours – stay safe and God Bless the USA.

  • Where do you get a ferro rod (something I’ve never heard of) ? Great info about the sharpie hack.

  • Lilian, I get mine (always more than one) from David Canterbury’s Pathfinder SRO store “Self-Reliance”. They come covered with a covering on it that you have to scrape off when you want to start the fire. They also come with a striker-scraper. If you intend to use this get the 5-inch long and fat one, not jut a thin short little one. You can get many hundreds, and some say, thousands of lights (spark-scrapes) off one rod. It depends upon the dryness of your “birds nest” tinder bundle. If you intend to use it at night, such as camping, you may want to tie some white duct tape around the end you would hold on to, so that if you dropped it you could readily find it again. On one Sole Survival TV show a Survivalist dropped his into a camp fire and didn’t notice it, and fire burned all of it up. So having a back up can be important. I think people put it on a string around their neck (and taped to one ferro rod end) ONLY when they intend to use it as they are getting materials ready. That way it is always close at hand, and after lighting a fire they put the ferro-magnesium rod back around their neck so that it is always close at hand, and not casually laying on the ground near a fire possibly to get covered with burning coals or lost. There are other places that sell them, but the quality of the ferro-magnesium may be different. The SRO team has a reputation of excellent customer service.

  • Brilliant! I’ve learned something I did not know this morning. Thanks. I’ll collect some discarded Sharpies.

  • Thumbs up!

  • Place a small amount of a chapstick (might work with a little piece of lipstick too) onto your tinder. Strike a spark on this target and it should ignite into a small flame, which lights up the tinder. (Both chapstick and lipstick, or some similar item, contain a petroleum product that can ignite). Another item that can get tinder to ignite is 000 or 0000 steel wool. Place some on your tinder and strike a spark onto it. Fine steel wool catches a spark easily. Get it at any hardware store.

    If in a more desperate emergency and your car breaks down on a desolate road, take out your spare tire. This is best if done during daylight. You will sacrifice this tire to provide heat and a black column of smoke. Make sure there is NO air in the tire. and place it somewhat near an opened car door. The door must be able to close with the tire NOT blocking it. Open the hood of the car and get some oil on the dip stick, often found near the back of the engine compartment. Pull on the finger grip, or ring, and pull it upwards. When the dip stick is out of the tube look to see if there is oil on it. If none. then push the dip stick back down and pull it back up. Place this oil onto the spare tire. Get the oil to ignite and eventually the tire will ignite providing a lot of heat and a very black column of smoke. If absolutely needed, there should be 4 more tires that can be used in a similar manner. This signal fire could save lives.