If you are serial camper like most of us are, then you must have come across the word fatwood.
Fatwoods are an important set of fire starters which are kind of easy to find if you are out in the woods looking for a fire starter, but we’ll get right to that soon.
So what exactly is Fatwood?
These are woods which are filled to the brim with resin. That is to say; fatwood is dried piece of wood which are hard and resistant to rotting. These woods are regarded as miracle fire starters because they tend to help you set up your campfire with ease.
This is because the resin emitted from this wood is terpene which is a key markup of turpentine. The fatwoods themselves are usually found in dead pine trees stumps (i.e. the last bit of pine wood just above the pine tree’s taproot).
Fatwood is one heck of a flammable wood and is known to be able to start a fire even when wet or with just a spark. Fatwood flames are known to burn hot and wild; they are also great for resisting the wind. Fatwood shavings are great to enhance and spread fire to larger logs and kindling.
Fatwood Vs Lightning Nuggets
Lightening Nuggets are also a great way to start a fire. These environmental friendly fire starters are made of recycled forest byproducts which are then processed in the lumbering industry to give out nuggets of fire starter which are rich with both wood shavings, food grade paraffin wax and have been thoroughly purified to make certain they are of top quality and won’t be the course of environmental hazards or pollution.
Lightning Nuggets are a cheaper alternative to various other fatwood alternatives like magnesium fire starters and the likes. They also tend to burn well. For instance, when a lightning nugget is placed with the round edge facing down and the flat edge which is the top edge lighted, it is guaranteed to have a burn time of about 15 minutes and the heat is expected to reach a high 480 degrees with flame length expected to climb to about 8-inches.
The lightning nugget, unlike the fatwood, is industry processed. It passes through the refining process to have its materials mixed and in good shape to easily start a fire whereas fatwood is gotten from dead pine trees – anyone can easily make a fatwood.
Fatwood Vs Kindling
Talking about starting fires with either fatwood of kindling, we’d say there’s no comparison. Fatwood takes home the cup. For one, kindling is defined as either twig, pieces of paper, small sticks which are used for starting a fire.
Of course, kindling would get your fire started if you have proper items like a lighter, match box and not if you are using the old boy scout method of gnashing two rocks together or something.
Kindling also would not be able to withstand the weather environments like a strong wind and it won’t also easily catch a spark.
Unlike Fatwood which is rich in turpene and thus can snag up little sparks to make fast burners, kindling wouldn’t last long when lit. They would easily die out especially those small sticks or paper if there is no external force added to expand their lifespan.
It is recommended to have fatwood when camping especially if you are going to areas which the climate is unsettled, this way, you can be assured of an easy start fire.
While kindling would help start a fire, you probably would be exhausted from the tireless trials.
Also, if you are looking for a fire starter which is going to last you for minutes to get your entire campfire lit up, then fatwood is your best bet unless you have several tons of papers and small sticks to throw in at different intervals.
Fatwood Vs Duraflame
Starting fires with manufactured fire starters like dura flame is another option if you are looking for a cost effective fire starter for your camping trip. Duraflame which is made of compressed sawdust, plant and vegetable wax, a mix of several other recycled materials like coffee grounds, ground nutshells, etc.
The manufacturing process sees the ingredients mixed and processed to form shapes of logs.
Duraflame fire logs are environmentally friendly and burn a little cleaner than natural logs.
However, fatwoods, on the other hand, are naturally rich logs which are both wind resistant and green burners. They are usually preferred to dura flame fire logs in campgrounds where there is abundant of air, and also if you prefer to go green naturally.
They are also somewhat easier to light up than the dura flame fire logs, as just a spark can ignite the fatwood which is rich in turpene.
Fatwood Vs Magnesium
You can start a fire without magnesium, just kindling; flint and steel (don’t forget the friction does the work of catching up).
However, magnesium is a good piece to have if you want to have a fire burn so bright. Magnesium burns at 2500 degrees Fahrenheit which make it one heck of burner, thus igniting the tinder and other logs of wood far faster than you would normally have.
Magnesium does a good work of getting the heat up. Comparing magnesium with Fatwood, we see that fatwood main task is to get the fire started easily. You won’t need magnesium because fatwood is I rich in resin which catches fire easily and the fire can spread about fast due to the high concentration of turpene.
On another note, while Fatwood is great for starting a fire, Magnesium is great for creating a fast burning and high burning fire.
Fatwood Vs Birch Bark
Another piece of fine wood worth mentioning is the birch bark. These are the barks of a good many North American and Eurasian birch trees which belong to the genus ‘Betula.'
The birch bark is a tough, water-resistant bark which feels like cardboard and can be easily manipulated. I.e. bent, cut or sewn. For camping, if you come across the birch bark, you can easily use them to grow fire especially in unplanned climates, due to their water resistance, they tend to burn uniformly even
under the element. They are not good to fire starters like fatwood, though. They are just supports for an even burn.
How to find fatwood fast and easy
Most of the times I’ve gone searching for fatwoods, softwoods have always helped. I'd say, follow the softwoods and dead trees around. You can also find a dead cedar or pine tree around.
The best symptoms of fatwoods around could be dead pines and cedars. Their roots and stumps produce fatwood. These dead trees could be rotten; it doesn’t matter. If the tree is rotten and the sap seasons into resin-soaked wood then you have your fatwood and even if you light it up in a wet condition. The right fatwood will happily burn for you.
As to the type of environments to look for fatwoods in, I would suggest you don’t worry too much about that and look for woods instead – pine and cedar, from my experience.
This does not mean other woods do not contain fatwoods. Trees grow on other trees these days, and your next fatwood could come out of a different tree.
How to use fatwood and how to start a fire with it?
Starting a fire with fatwood and using it to warm up, cook or roast depends on where you're starting the fire.
For example, starting a fire with fatwood on a wood pellet stove is different from doing so without one.
- For a wood pellet stove, you have to place a few small-sized fatwood sticks into the burn pot and light it up. After that, you are expected to observe the fire and if it burns as expected, then proceed to use it for whatever it is you planned to use it for.
- For pellet stoves, be sure to consult your owner’s manual for instructions on safety and using a particular wood on the stove. This is also important because these stoves and their models vary and might come with their safety instructions.
If you are out in the open, probably stranded or camping without a pellet stove then place the woods in a circle, making sure they torch each other in the middle of the circle.
Then light a small piece of the same wood and place it within the circle to light up the other woods. The woods forming the circle don’t necessarily have to be small. But then, it depends on what you’re planning to do with the fire.
How to make fatwood fire starter
Do you know there are match sticks in the world made out of fatwoods? Well, now you know. Making your own fatwood fire starter is really recommended when starting a fire because you shouldn't be prepared to burn the whole wood at once. No matter the amount of woods. If your fatwood is huge, you can chop little pieces off its huge size to start your own fire.
Fatwoods are quick and easy to light up. So with a few tiny sticks within a bunch, you can start a great fire with them. Fatwood fire starters are mostly small portions of a fatwood or little sticks you specially cut and preserve to start your own fire.
You can carry them around in a bunch and won’t have to soak them in fuels and they could be used to start your cooking and grilling fire. Yes, you can grill with fatwoods because they’re 100% all natural and chemical free.