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Saturday, August 6, 2011

Fatwood Could Save Your Life

fatwood from a pine tree

Or, your sanity.

No, this is not a fat insult to anyone. Okay, maybe it will just save your sanity if you need to start a fire. It works for my parsimonious nature. This cheap and efficient fire-starter is free. However, you may prefer to buy it. I am just too cheap to purchase it, especially when I have it in my yard. Fatwood is in abundance if you know where to look.

This post is not about hard-core survival when the zombies are out. It is not even about inconvenience when the power is off. It is about something many people do not know about. I heard about this maybe 50 years ago--fatwood. It goes by other names.

I know I can start a fire in perfect conditions.  But, in an imperfect condition, could you or I start a fire? Probably not? Maybe not? Maybe I am overconfident in thinking I can. Maybe that is because I have watched, listened, and read much over the years. I know experience counts for much. I have only had a little experience.

Here is an informative link about fatwood that you can explore. Basically, this is a natural source for a firestarter that could be found on your next hike, an item you can remove from a National Forest or land preserve...if you don't back a pickup truck to haul it out.  You can carry home one chunk and cut it to size later.

There are no chemicals added to fatwood or fatfire. You can use it to start any fire. You actually only need a source in the forest where you are or a source like the hardware store.

The links telling you where to buy it have lots of information, but they suggest using two eight-inch pieces for a firestarter. Okay, if it is blowing, your wood is soaked and fatwood tinder you find is all you have, use all you need. Shredding it with a knife or using a sliver works just as well. Commercial sites have uniform pieces. Nope, not necessary. Chunks will do.

Over information on the subject. You will also find other firestarting methods at PracticalSurvivor there is lots of information about starting fires.

Remember, it is found in pine trees. Stumps cut decades ago are valuable sources, often dug up for their use as fatwood or kindling. Oaks won't yield this. Wounds in a tree are a prime source. Chunks could ruin a cook stove, so watch out. This stuff burns particularly hot.

Maybe someone will get or give this as a Christmas gift to someone who has none. Maybe you could use it to barter or barter to receive it.

Your turn
Have you ever heard of fatwood or fatfire by any other name? Have you used it? Were you even aware of this handy tool that could be in the nearest dead pine stump?  Are you ever in a situation where you could look for stumps, dead trees, or fallen knots with pine resin to carry home for your use?


  1. Great information, thanks!
    I had never heard of this before but I see lots of pine trees around us. I'll have to go and have a look for it now.

  2. Maybe you can let us know if you find any. It could be just be on the ground and not connected with a trunk that you can see. Cut off those pieces of amber you find.

  3. good to know! thanks, Practical!


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