What is Fatwood and why would I want it in my BOB or backpack?
One of the trinity of tools for surviving in the woods. Those being water, shelter, and fire. Fatwood sits there up there right next to Magnesium Firestarter. Fatwood ignites almost by looking at it. And Fatwood is the remains of a pine tree taproot in an old stump. By harvesting it from the wild, you have the perfect tinder to start your fire. Today we will look at making DIY Fatwood as well as some of its uses.
Fatwood is impregnated with Terpene, which is the precursor of Turpentine. You will find as we said earlier inside a stump at its center near where the taproot is at the surface. The wood will harden, and old stumps are the best sources for Fatwood.
Once you have carved out a block of Fatwood from the core of a stump, you can slice it into finger-sized sticks of Fatwood. Then you can turn those into match-sized sticks which you can carry in a mint tin. From then on, you then have a fire starting material that is waterproof and lasts forever.
So let’s look at the benefits of Fatwood!
The Benefits, Uses, And How To Make Fatwood
Benefits Of Fatwood
Since you can find coniferous and pine trees almost anywhere. Any resinous tree will do. Almond trees, pine, and the like, you can look for a dead tree or a stump for best results. However, you can break off a branch until you get close to the trunk then harvest the center core of the branch there.
But, it is easy to find almost anywhere without having to damage a living tree.
In a pinch, you can harvest Pine Sap to get the resin by itself in a manner similar to tapping a maple tree for maple syrup.
However, there is also a humane way of doing it as well.
You can also make your own Fatwood as well.
Some even say it is better than the natural variety. You could also substitute cotton balls soaked in Vaseline if you like.
However, one of the best ways for DIY Fatwood can be found here.
So, you now have your Fatwood. Now, what’s next?
How To Start Fatwood A Fire In The Woods
This reviewer prefers the “Feathering Method.” This is where you take a matchstick-sized piece of Fatwood and with your knife. (We use a Gerber Applegate Combat Folder as it also works well with the Ferro Rod we have in our belt pouch.)
Carefully you cut notches and feather the piece of Fatwood. The entire process is illustrated here for your education and enjoyment.
Feathering works, especially well, when it is windy, and you do not want your tender heading off to parts unknown. Since Fatwood is for all intents and purposes, waterproof. This technique is great if you are in the rain or your firewood is damp as well.
Fatwood catches fast and will even get damp wood to burn with just a little coaxing.
How To Use Fatwood In The Fireplace
But, remember Fatwood can be used safely indoors as well. You can start your fireplace faster than you ever thought possible, even if you have an electrical igniter.
Lay two Fatwood sticks across each other on the grate of your fireplace grate in a way the lets the flame climb from bottom to top.
Next, place a well-seasoned piece of firewood on top of the Fatwood feathered sticks. Give yourself a little breathing space between the Fatwood and your first piece of wood. To let air circulate, Light one end of both Fatwood sticks, using a long match that you use to start the pilot light of a water heater works well. Once you have a blaze going add the rest of your wood and lock the screen in place.
Here is the whole process demonstrated for you as well.
How To Use Fatwood On The Grill
The above method is adaptable to the grill or a fire pit as well. Instead of using old newspapers and starting fluid, you can get better results with Fatwood.
A grill can be done similarly, and once you get the hang of it, you’ll retire your chimney starter, or you can incorporate Fatwood into the process as well if you wish.
Fatwood And Pellet Stoves
Burning wood pellets has become much more than a novelty, with skyrocketing prices of your utility bill of late and the uncertainty of electricity and natural gas in times of disaster. Many have turned to alternative means of heating their home. If you go with a sealed pellet stove with its electric ignition, Fatwood is not much help.
However, Pellets are adaptable to wood-burning stoves, as This “Rancher Style” wood burning stove is easy to use of not only Fatwood but wood pellets as well.
There are many other cookstoves that both these methods help you get the best out of Fatwood as well as pellets in the home or in a survival situation when conventional sources of fuel are not available. A pallet of bags of pellets is relatively inexpensive and will last you a Midwestern winter. Fatwood keeps forever, and one harvest of it will give you enough Fatwood to last you a lifetime.
Fatwood In A Rocket Stove
However, in other designs of stoves Fatwood can be adapted to get things going and even supply the entire amount of firewood should you need a fire that is guaranteed to work no matter what.
Fatwood In A Corn Husk, Rice Husk, And Other Biomass Stoves
You can now warm your home, cook a meal, and grill easier in the backyard with one of the oldest and simplest fire-starting aids in the world. With Fatwood, a fire will be burning bright in less time than it takes to tell.