Friday, January 20, 2023

What is Fatwood?

For as long as I've been in prepper circles on the internet, I've heard of something called fatwood. Folks talking about it make it seem like it absolutely litters the forest floor, and that if you merely let it look at a fire lay and say Shirak*, you'll have an instant roaring bonfire. 

I've been doing the backwoods thing for a while now, and I've never actually encountered fatwood, so I decided to do a bit of poking and figure out what the buzz is all about. It turns out fatwood is resin-loaded pine wood, harvested from stumps left behind by logging operations. As the stump wood ages, the resin from the roots concentrates in the stump. 

This explains two things about fatwood. First, being loaded with pine resin is what gives fatwood its legendary fire starting status. Pine resin, better known as sap, is well known as a flammable material; concentrated within the wood, it would easily take flame and burn hot for a decent time.

Second, this explains why I've never encountered fatwood. Utah doesn't have many pine forests, nor much logging of them. The pine forests we do have are pretty rough access, and aren't made up of the most resinous trees. Basically, I haven't encountered fatwood because it doesn't really occur here.

I may not be able to find it in a local forest, but I can apparently harvest it from the Amazon (the one with Prime, not the one with piranha) where it can be had for between $2-$4 per pound. I've got some on order, and I'll test it when it comes in. I've also got a few other fire-making gizmos to play with in the near future.


*Yes, nerds, I know that Shirak is the command word for a light spell, not a fire spell, but it amused me. Allow me my hidden nerdy fun.


  1. I've been using it for years. It's great for kick starting a low / slow burning fire.

  2. In the South we call it lighter. It's easy to find in our pine forests, often in the form of lighter knots, which are the knots of branches in rotten logs. Old pine stumps will usually have some lighter that's easy to get to with a hatchet or axe.


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