Fatwood for Bushcraft

Fatwood is an Essential Part of Bushcraft

Fatwood is resin rich wood that can be found in pine trees. It is probably the best natural fire starter available and is waterproof, rot-resistant, very flammable and has an indefinite shelf-life.

The pine sap flows to an area that is scarred or damaged in order to heal it. As the terpene evaporates in the sap, it hardens, becoming resin. Over time, it will no longer be sticky and appear as dark veins in the wood. The resin at all stages is flammable and burns well. It can be found in branches and is especially prevelant in stumps.

How to Find Fatwood Outdoors

The easiest way to find fatwood outside is to find fallen pine trees that are already on the ground. When a tree dies, the terpene slowly moves to the heartwood of the tree (the inside/center) and will saturate it over time creating fatwood.

Sometimes you can find sections of it the size of a small tree or inside a large rotten tree. You can also dig around rotten stumps to find large sections of it as well. Remove the rotten material from around the fatwood and you will see the dark, gold wood that is rich in resin. You’ll also notice the heavy scent and the stronger the better.

Learn how to harvest fatwood

How to Use Fatwood

Once you have fatwood, it is best to cut or chop it into sticks around 4 or 5 inches long. From there, take a knife and make a pile of shavings. If planning to use the entire stick, you can use your knife to feather it, or cut as if making shavings but not finished, leaving one end of the fatwood “feathered” so that it will like quicker.

Since fatwood is natural, a stick won’t just flare up like a chemical firestarter. That’s why using shavings to take the flame first is the best option in a bushcraft scenario. For grilling, it’s unnecessary.

Learn Where Fatwood Comes From