Starting your fire for the first time, or again

by pat
(pioneer, ca)

When it's time to split the firewood, I sometimes find a short branch or knot that is heavy (the wood is verry dry), I usualy throw it away with the bark, but this year I have found that if I save this and split it up into pieces about the size of a black permanent marker, I can use this piece as a fire starter. Because it usualy will have a lot of sap running through it. I find that my firestarter stick will burn for a good long time and will have a hot flame

When I have had a fire going the night before and there are some unburnt ends and pieces left over, I don't throw them in the ash can, I just scoop them out ( make sure to put them into a non-flammable container)and put them aside, get all the ash out of the stove or fireplace, put the ends and pieces back into the stove or fireplace and add our kindling, if I have a lot of leftovers, I usualy am able to load in my small to mediem fire wood (especialy if using a stove or insert). I find that it gets the fire going sooner,I don't have to use as much of my kindling, saving me the extra work, time and reduces the amount of bulk in the ash pile, it is mostly ash and no or verry little black coals

Comments for Starting your fire for the first time, or again

Average Rating starstarstarstarstar

Click here to add your own comments

Nov 08, 2010
Sounds like you are using fatwood...
by: Mike

Hi Pat, a couple of great tips there.

Your first point about using knots is a good one. It sounds like you have found what is often called "fatwood" - the resinous stumps of pine trees which can be so rich in sap after the tree dies that they simply won't rot away. The resin makes them burn very hot and light easily.

Are you using pine trees for these "heavy knots"?

I'm a little concerned about your fire cleaning routine though - most modern stoves are designed to run with a thick layer of ash in the bottom. The ash protects the metal of the stove from over heating and provides extra insulation. Are you cleaning this out fully every time you use it? I'd check your stove manufacturers recommendations.

The unburned pieces of char can be a godsend lighting fires, especially outdoors. They will rekindle with just a spark and if you have a few pieces, some care and patience you can usually nurture them into enough of an ember to get a fire going, even in bad wet weather.

All the best


Jan 11, 2011
Slash, Hunks, Chunks
by: crash325

Slash = small branches, Hunks & Chunks, just as it sounds, short cut offs, misc. hunks of wood. Nothing goes to waste, I burn it all and use a lot of the bark when starting a fire, bark is also real good when restoring a fire from coals.

Click here to add your own comments

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Wood Stove Tips and Tricks.