Fatwood-sorting and prepping: am I doing it the hard way?

Discussion in 'Fire' started by Geneh, Apr 29, 2019.

  1. Geneh

    Geneh Supporter Supporter

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    3292D47E-E8AE-4E34-82BA-C74F92219CCA.jpeg 14077F70-812A-4FE1-8B8B-4BDF68E113BC.jpeg



    I scrounged up some fat wood out of pine stump’s yesterday, and I’m new at this stuff, sorting out what’s worthwhile and what just to throw away. My goal is pencil diameter pieces to supplement waxed twine. And because it fun. I use a ferro rod almost exclusively when I’m up in the woods.

    Here’s pictures of the wildly varying density. To test if it’s any good should I just try to light a small pile of scrapings with the ferro rod?

    Any other suggestions on sorting and processing this stuff, assuming I probably have a lot of lightly saturated wood to strip out? I cannot easily tell either what’s saturated with sap until the wood dries.
     
  2. Robert Y

    Robert Y Scout

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    I tend to process as little as possible until I need to use it, because the turpentine has quite a bit more surface area to evaporate. Imagine a how long a load of wet laundry in a clothes basket would take to dry versus each piece of clothing hung out on the on the line. That being said, I know how tempting it is to want to see just how high of quality some of the pieces are :)
     
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  3. Usingmyrights

    Usingmyrights Supporter Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    I agree, keep it together as much as possible until needed. I've had some stuff start to dry out on me after awhile.
     
  4. Geneh

    Geneh Supporter Supporter

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    Oh. I thought this stuff was supposed to be good after drying. Almost all the stuff I brought home is in small pieces already.
     
  5. MrFixIt

    MrFixIt Old Jarhead LB#42 Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    @Geneh I don't process it down till I get ready to use it. I mostly gather what I need at the site. I used to stockpile a good bit but I have strayed away from that.
    Having several pencil sized pieces in your fire kit is OK. Just replenish after your outing if you use any.
     
  6. Paul Foreman

    Paul Foreman Supporter Supporter

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    Besides, big chunks are way fun to burn after dark for the color display. Always keep a few oily ones just for entertainment ...
     
  7. Geneh

    Geneh Supporter Supporter

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    Hmmm...I wonder if a wax dip will help seal the pieces after I let the wet moisture dry a bit? Some of the wood was totally soaked wet. Some of the pieces have rings of sap between layers of wood.

    I'll probably go back out just to dig up more and keep only the really resounous stuff. I was so thrilled at what I was finding that I kept everything that smelled like turpentine.
     
  8. HannahT

    HannahT Firebug Hobbyist Supporter Bushcraft Friend Bushclass I

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    I've done that :) When you find that first piece you feel like a gold miner who's just made a strike :)
     
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  9. Geneh

    Geneh Supporter Supporter

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    Last night I tried a few small pieces, using unwaxed hemp twine as starter, catching sparks. Worked ok, but I noticed not all the fatwood pieces lit easily. Lack of enough actual resin or too much wet wood maybe?

    When I'm out that probably doesn't matter too much because the jute has wax so will burn for a bit and I really like the way jute lights up. Maybe if I get really good fatwood I won't need the jute.
     
  10. Geneh

    Geneh Supporter Supporter

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    @HannahT - LOL. For a short while I was feeling pretty lame - like not being able to find the gold in the gold mine.... but didn't take long to figure it out. I'm anxious to go back with my beater/digging knife and small shovel. Sticks only work so well.

    My dad told me about this stuff back in late 60's. We were walking / hunting and he pointed out a rotten stump, saying that there's fire starter in there if I need it. Look around where there's been a fire for the stumps.
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2019
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  11. DomC

    DomC Retired Old Scrub Stomper

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    Fatwood never degrades and even when it seems dried out I just scrape it, which produces fiction, which produces heat and the resin is aromatic and slightly sticky once again.

    Once it is ignited the resins will liquify and burn intensely as before. Don't ever throw away fatwood cause it loses its aroma and stickiness, as soon as it ignites, it will burn, burn, burn!

    After all, 100 year old pine stumps will have primo fatwood hidden within the rotting away exteriors & roots.
    Dominick........
     
  12. DarrylM

    DarrylM Supporter Supporter

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    Time for me to do another test of fatwood shavings that I put into a tin a couple years ago. Last time I checked, the dry, old shavings took off with a hot oily flame from ferro rod sparks.

    I'll come back to this post after work and hit the old shavings again.
     
  13. Geneh

    Geneh Supporter Supporter

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    @DarryIM - yes, please do post the results. Seems to me any wood surrounding the good resin that is dry can't hurt, so if the resin is good - it's a win. It might not be as easy to light as the fresher stuff - but if it works....
     
  14. Outdoor Time

    Outdoor Time BCUSA Friend Bushcraft Friend

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    Pine knot will last for many years even if it looks and feels dry. Like 20 years for sure.
     
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  15. Geneh

    Geneh Supporter Supporter

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    If that's the case, I can rotate the lesser fatwood out as I get really prime chunks until I have a decent stash. One piece the size / length of a pencil is enough for 2 fires under the worst conditions I've been in. An inch length is more than a luxury start in most cases.

    The best will be saved for trips to BWCA or other circumstances where there is a possibility where a October dunk in cold water may require an easy and reliable fire even if I'm half zonked with cold.
     
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  16. MrFixIt

    MrFixIt Old Jarhead LB#42 Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    The wood decayed before the sap settled in. I call it almost fatwood.
    It'll burn if it's dry just not as good as the truly saturated pieces.
     
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  17. Geneh

    Geneh Supporter Supporter

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    That explains why it didn't burn so well. I don't think anything I scrounged was truly dry. So I have a box full of, "almost fatwood" that will make nice backyard firepit tinder. :)

    Not that I mind or think I wasted any time or effort. I'm glad I learned something.
     
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  18. MrFixIt

    MrFixIt Old Jarhead LB#42 Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    Oh definitely, it is usable.
     
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  19. OMRebel

    OMRebel Meanderer of the Piney Woods Supporter Hardwoodsman Bushclass I Bushclass II

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    I've had some laying around for two or three years now that I had processed and never used. It'll still light up just the same today. I don't know how long that will be true for, but I am sure you can process a good enough amount to last that long with no worries. Of course, I still find some from time to time, process it down and burn it right away, because....you know...it's fun!
     
  20. MrFixIt

    MrFixIt Old Jarhead LB#42 Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    Exactly! I keep telling @DavidJAFO that it’s not fer siiffin’, it’s fer burnin’!
    :)
     
  21. DarrylM

    DarrylM Supporter Supporter

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    I can now confirm that 2+ years of sitting in a tin has not appreciably degraded the effectiveness of the fatwood curls. I just took a small pinch and had flame from 5 strikes of my carbide scraper on a Light My Fire Scout ferro rod.

    So, carry and store chunks, or process as finely as needed for a "right now" fire.
     
  22. Geneh

    Geneh Supporter Supporter

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    That's fewer strikes than I often need on jute twine. I gotta try this. Thanks for letting us know!
     
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  23. DomC

    DomC Retired Old Scrub Stomper

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    I still have some fatwood that I harvested in 2012. It's still volatile as the day I found it. It has the appearance of petrified wood and is hard as stone!
    Dominick........
     
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  24. DavidJAFO

    DavidJAFO Supporter Supporter

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    "somewhere having a brew (tea)"
    hello,
    @MrFixIt shakes head in hands vigorously muttering to myself it's fer sniffin.. :17:
    Regards
    David
     
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  25. Paul Foreman

    Paul Foreman Supporter Supporter

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    well, there's siiffin' - and there's sniffin' ... :)
     
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  26. jswi2374

    jswi2374 Woods Bum Bushclass I

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    I still have a few chunks of gaw-guh fatwood in my van. Coffee, cigar smoke, and fatwood... Can almost find my van by scent in the lot!
     
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  27. MrFixIt

    MrFixIt Old Jarhead LB#42 Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    Auto correct must have gotten you, it’s JAWJUH (say it with a drawl)...;)
     
  28. Geneh

    Geneh Supporter Supporter

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    I just received a pound and half of beautiful dense Georgia fatwood from one of our members. This is awesome! I can’t wait to get out and try it!
     
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  29. beestokk

    beestokk Supporter Supporter

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    Great thread! I've become a collector of the stuff now haha and have more than I should ever really need, albeit of varying quality - some very good to excellent (still not quite like the South or PNW stuff I see here, but getting close!) down to the "almost fatwood" other stuff. That being said it's always about finding the next best piece and/or identifying in the current stock what's the prime stuff and then grading down from there. I tend to keep mine intact for the most part (though I've got some big chunks and stump portions that are difficult to store that way) and scrape, shave, or splinter some off to test with a lighter for ignition speed, burn quality, pop/sizzle, and smoke production. That's kind of my grading scale. Even though I've got plenty to grade/process I still pick up more when I can haha. The stump pieces really are the ones I need to break down b/c they don't fit into anything in their current size/state so figured splitting them down into more uniform chunks will help - the problem is the actual splitting as you know how dense that stuff can get, or gnarled in the stumps - may pick up a splitting wedge to help with that!

    @Geneh - you should check out the Fatwood Pics thread (https://bushcraftusa.com/forum/threads/fatwood-pics-thread.149332/) if you haven't to help you gauge the quality of what you've got.

    For the Southern and PNW guys and gals they probably just have to grade theirs as Excellent on the low end to Super Duper Magnificently Excellent on the high. Amiright @MrFixIt, @Silvuhboolit , @Coryphene and @NWPrimate (and any other primo fatwooders I forgot)?
     
    Last edited: May 13, 2019
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  30. Geneh

    Geneh Supporter Supporter

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    @beestokk I’ll go check that thread. Hopefully I will be able to interpret what I see enough that I can grade my stuff into firekit, kindling, and lame. Good fatwood is a perfect addition to Vaseline cotton balls, waxed jute, lighter, ferro stick, and matches.

    My firekit I want to be reliable for an emergency fire when I out in the cold and wet, or paddling the BWCA. Nothing concerns me more than cold and wet.
     
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  31. beestokk

    beestokk Supporter Supporter

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    I think you'll really get a lot out of that thread just from seeing so much variety in appearance. If you're interested in trading some ever shoot me a PM! Always curious to see what others have got in their area! Good luck!
     
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  32. Geneh

    Geneh Supporter Supporter

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    People actually trade fatwood? I thought collecting and trading pencils was a little out there... :)
     
  33. beestokk

    beestokk Supporter Supporter

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    Haha... This place is full of surprises!
     
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  34. MrFixIt

    MrFixIt Old Jarhead LB#42 Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    I actually have quite a collection of fatwood from many different states and countries.
    All specimens placed into plastic bags and labeled.
    :)
     
  35. beestokk

    beestokk Supporter Supporter

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    Lemme know if wanna swap any sometime!
     
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  36. MrFixIt

    MrFixIt Old Jarhead LB#42 Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    Will do! As a matter of fact I don’t think I have any from Missouri...
     
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  37. Scotchmon

    Scotchmon Supporter Supporter

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    ^^^^this.
    As we have mostly hardwood around here I rely mostly on the hardware store bags of fatwood. This stuff is bagged and is who knows how old. Slicing into it for feather sticks produces the good smelling sticky goodness. I’d say it doesn’t go bad.
    If you’d like you can send all your dried out stuff to me for proper disposal! :D
     
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  38. Geneh

    Geneh Supporter Supporter

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    @Scotchmon speaking of proper disposal....I sorted all my fatwood this afternoon into blocks of prime, sticks of prime, kidling, and shavings. All the rest of lesser or no sap went into the fire pit.

    That was an interesting learning experience. Three times I piled not-dry, and some small rotten stump parts with scraps on top, and lit the mess with a few scrapings from good stuff. Those piles shouldn't even have burned without a lot of coaxing. Instead the file steadily grew on the top and worked it's way down and soon the whole pile was burning furiously and for quite a while.

    Addendum: I didn’t sort or discard the Georgia fat I was gifted. That stuff is heavy and saturated. The sorting and discarding was the wood I dug up a few weeks ago.
     
    Last edited: May 14, 2019
  39. Geneh

    Geneh Supporter Supporter

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    @MrFixIt @beestokk I'll try to remember to pick out share-worthy fatwood for your collection when I get more. Probably forget ... which just makes me look dumb.
     
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  40. DavidJAFO

    DavidJAFO Supporter Supporter

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    "somewhere having a brew (tea)"
    hello,
    ..even I knew that, JawJuh phatwood (drawl & Scots accent) & it's fer sniffin' :p LOL
    Regards
    David
     
    Last edited: May 16, 2019 at 1:09 PM
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  41. MrFixIt

    MrFixIt Old Jarhead LB#42 Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    :56:

    :4:
     
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  42. DavidJAFO

    DavidJAFO Supporter Supporter

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    "somewhere having a brew (tea)"
    hello,
    that's not nice... play nice :4: ROTFLMAO
    Regards
    David
     
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  43. MrFixIt

    MrFixIt Old Jarhead LB#42 Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    :30:

    :29:

    :9:
     
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  44. USPCompact45

    USPCompact45 Supporter Supporter

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    Who needs whippits when you have Jawjuh Fatwood.

    :dblthumb:
     
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  45. MrFixIt

    MrFixIt Old Jarhead LB#42 Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    LOL!
     
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  46. Geneh

    Geneh Supporter Supporter

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    Ok , what is Jawjuh Fatwood???
     
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  47. Geneh

    Geneh Supporter Supporter

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    724B635C-6766-41CD-83C6-4E0F74A8C5A2.jpeg B9B36F53-96A7-4FD5-A045-68A756E125E8.jpeg 05AA076D-D57A-47DD-B177-0FFF05286A54.jpeg Sorted some out for a couple pocket fire kits and learned a thing or two. I’ve separated one stash on the right as sticks whose shavings light up with a good spark, and a small stack of kindling. All that was just an excuse to play with it.

    That little flame is Georgia goodness. The long piece with the cut is more Georgia fat from @MrFixIt that I couldn’t pound through.
     
  48. Silvuhboolit

    Silvuhboolit Florida Feller Supporter

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    A little bit to the nawth of Flawda Fatwood....
     
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  49. Geneh

    Geneh Supporter Supporter

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    Oh. :34:
     
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  50. Silvuhboolit

    Silvuhboolit Florida Feller Supporter

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    9B0C9726-423C-470B-99FB-10EDAF8037C0.jpeg
    Flawda fatwood
     
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