Having done a copious blog on paracord 550 I decided to do an additional page rounding up fire, nano and microcord.
First I'll cover firecord, which is the true paracord out of the three of them. It is 550 stuff with all the inner strands but it also contains a contrasting red strip of a lighting medium called Livefire. It is moderately easy to buff up into a lightable bundle using either a ferro rod scraper or a knife.
Once buffed a ferro rod it used to well, totally obliterate the firecord...It is there under the sparks I promise you!
It was fairly easy to light and burns well on it's own, or with the paracord itself, but if you've done any paracord knitting before this point of the blog you'll know it's smelly stuff when it lights.
Livefire is supposed to be totally waterproof and I decided to try this out too. I left a piece sitting in a tumbler of water and it sank which I didn't expect for a waterproof product. I squeezed the length through finger and thumb and again, buffed it like the dry test.
It did light but burnt with a smaller weaker flame than the dry example. The fire cord does work, is handy and can be hung from a rucksack etc, but my choice would be a couple of pieces of Hammaro fire lighter which works in wet conditions and can be secreted in a pocket or rucksack pouch and doesn't create the noxious smoke that burning nylon paracord does.
I tried making my own version by removing some inner strands and then threading some natural jute string (which takes a spark well) using a similar technique to the wallet strap from earlier and it is possible but I found that it made the inner strands bunch up and often come out. Firecord is more expensive than regular 550 cord but equally you don't need much.
Next on the list is nanocord which isn't paracord 550 in the true sense. It is also nylon but it has no internal strands, has just short of 40 pounds breaking strain, and is around 0.75mm thick (the above picture has some regular paracord 550 in it for comparison). I have still included it because it can still be utilised into a decent amount of cordage when made into a bracelet (or similar) using the cobra weave, it is worth pointing out that it is a bit fiddly to use like this and would benefit from being anchored.
You'll need just over 10 inches for every inch weaved (assuming it's round a loop of nanocord). I used some of this to pull the jute string through the above project and you can see it is pretty much the same diameter as the fire cord inner strands. As well as bracelets it could also be used to whip small diamtere rope ends and as an all purpose length of cordage that doesn't have the bulk of paracord 550. I used some of this to pull the jute string through the above project and you can see it is pretty much the same diameter as the fire cord inner strands with slightly less breaking strain.
Finally we have nanocord's big brother microcord which again isn't paracord 550 and is similar in all ways to nanocord except it is 1.12mm thick and has a breaking strain of 100lb which is a good trade off against paracord 550 in terms of size (the 550 refers to it's breaking strain). Again it's multi use so is included because of this fact. It is less fiddly to weave than nanocord but again would benefit from being anchored. You'll get around 10 inches of weave per inch and isn't a million miles away from nanocord in that respect.