This started me to wonder whether a magnesium bar can "go bad". I don't know if they can, but I do know there are a lot of cheap ones out there on the market and quality varies greatly. For instance, I have a HARBOR FREIGHT [Chinese made] and it burns poorly and not as hot as my COGHLANS bar, which I think is also Chinese made, but costs a few dollars more than the HF.
As far as I know, one of the best is a DOAN'S magnesium bar, as these are U.S.A. made and have been U.S. military Aircrew survival issue for decades. They will probably cost about 10 dollars or so. Christopher Nyerges [SCHOOL OF SELF RELIANCE] recommends the Doans and I believe in his book he mentions he carries one as EDC.
The beauty of the magnesium bar is that it will work in wet conditions and start a fire when nothing else will. Matches can get wet and damaged, and lighters won't work wet.
I find the HF Chinese bar to be much softer and easier to scrape than the COGHLANS, so hardness may be a factor in determining quality, burn temperature, length of burn, and etc.
Like anything else, skills are perishable and have to be practiced to be maintained. This morning I batoned kindling, made fuzz sticks, shaved curls, and made three practice fires using both of my bars. I think a good idea would be to purchase the HF bar for *practice only* and conserve your quality Doan's bar for EDC or your trail or bugout kit.
The HF's were priced around $2.99 the last time I looked, but I recall you can sometimes you get them for less with a coupon if you sign up for HARBOR FREIGHT's coupon mailings.
If anyone has any insights they would like to add, or if you know whether magnesium bars can degrade over time, please post up in the comments below.
[Bushcraft Woods Devil]