How to Start a Fire With Wet Wood

How to Start a Fire With Wet Wood

( – Fire is one of a survivalist’s best friends. It can help keep you warm, cook your food, boil your water, dry your clothes, signal for help, and even keep you entertained. But if you’re in a situation where you desperately need fire and all of your fuel is wet, what can you do?

Getting Started

Starting a fire with wet wood can be a pain, but it is possible with some patience. Begin by splitting the logs and sticks you have on hand. This will give you access to the dry wood inside. Shave thin slices off this with a knife or hand axe to make a large amount of tinder — you’re going to need quite a bit more than you normally would to get a fire going big and hot enough to dry out the wood you will add to it later.

Next, cut off larger pieces of dry wood to use as kindling. Shave off any wet wood and bark from your kindling and tinder as you go along. Once you have a few handfuls of each, remove any remaining wet areas on the logs you split as well. If it’s raining while you’re doing this, perform these actions under a tarp or shelter of some sort.

Be Prepared

Having the right firestarters can help you out quite a lot with this task. Once lit, a candle will continue to burn on the tinder until it catches fire. You can also drip the wax on the tinder to help it catch fire. Cotton balls dipped in petroleum jelly are a fantastic firestarter as well. Waterproof matches are another option that should be found in every survival pack. You might also try drizzling pine sap on the tinder, as it is flammable and waterproof.

Building the Fire

Set two large sticks roughly 6 inches apart from one another, then place small twigs over them to create a loose floor. Place your tinder on these twigs in a small tented pile, but don’t pack it in too thick. You want air to get into the pile to help feed the flames. If you have the cotton balls, you can add them to the tinder here as well.

Next, place kindling on top of the tinder. Again, do not pack these on so tight that they restrict the airflow. Stack the kindling in the opposite direction of the twigs you used to create the structure of the fire.

Start the tinder on fire with a match, lighter, candle, or whatever source you have available. The key here is to start it from beneath the pile you made, thus the space created with the first two sticks with the floor built above them.

Once you can see a flame, add more tinder to the fire until you have a good blaze going. The raised firebase will allow air to reach the flame, feeding it. After the kindling has created a healthy flame, you can begin adding the split logs to it. Remember to tent the logs to allow for airflow. You can do this by leaning two logs against each other on the kindling.

Eventually, it will become hot enough to dry out your wet wood, but make sure not to overdo it. You didn’t go through all of that work building the fire to smother it with wet wood now. Lean your wood against rocks or blocks around the fire, so they are close enough to dry out from the heat, but won’t catch fire themselves.

Wet wood is just one more reason to plan ahead. Remember to keep your fireproof matches and other igniting materials close at hand. And when possible, always keep a stash of dry wood, rotating more into the stash as you use what’s there.

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