New sol-gel methods can be employed to generate high surface area porous iron (III) oxide-based solids. Chemical reduction of such porous solids at low temperatures allows the preparation of high surface area porous iron with little sintering, with the only byproduct being water. The material is readily pyrophoric and has utility in new decoy flares. The material, prepared by this synthetic route, eliminates the use of hot caustic leaching solutions. It does not require the incorporation of any hazardous materials or processes that are not already used in current production methods.
 The United States Government has rights in this invention pursuant to Contract No. W-7405-ENG48 between the United States Department of Energy and the University of California for the operation of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.