A quick search of the internet will pull up thousands of websites that will tell you how good fatwood is as a fire starter. Why is this guide any different? We want to give you the knowledge from what it is through to actually using it.
What is Fatwood?
Fatwood goes by many names such as pitch wood and lighter pine but no matter what the name, fatwood is an easy igniting substance that comes from the heartwood of pine trees.
When a pine tree becomes damaged, the tree’s roots continue to send pitch — or resin, to the wounded area in an attempt to heal it. It’s waterproof, rot resistant and extremely flammable. Fatwood can be used to start a fire even in wet conditions. It also burns very hot, so it’s ideal for igniting even very large pieces of wood, and can be lit with only the smallest sparks.
Where to Find Fatwood
The best way of finding fatwood is to look around for any fallen pine trees that are on lying the ground. When a tree dies the terpene in the wood will move to the interior heartwood of the tree and it will saturate the inner wood creating fatwood. Remove the punky rotten material from around the fatwood and this wood will be golden in color and very resinous in feel. You will also smell a heavy scent of turpentine in the wood and the stronger the smell the better the wood.
You can also find fatwood in the lower branches of the tree in the small node that connects the branch to the tree. Where the tree connects to the trunk, is usually where it is found and most times it can be 2-6 inches in length out along the branch. Having some fatwood in a tinder box or tinder pouch , can be very useful in all type of weather conditions. So see if you can find some in your area then you definitely want to store it for later fire making uses. When in wet conditions, its used for drying damp materials so they will combust into flame and this can make the difference with marginal wet tinder material. It will catch almost anything on fire if you have enough of it.
There are two common ways of preparing fatwood. The first is to use a knife to make shavings. The shavings should be thin and usually will be curled. A small pile the size of a golf ball or larger is a good amount. The shavings will light easily by using a flame or even sparks from a ferrocerium rod. The second way is by taking a sharp edge on the spine of a knife and scraping the fat wood to make a sticky dust. Also, the fine dust can be scraped off with a sharp stone, a piece of broken glass or other sharp object. After getting a small ball of dust in a pile you will be able to light this with a flame or ferrocerium rod.