Introduction: How to Make a Fire With Wet Wood

Picture of How to Make a Fire With Wet Wood

It's rained, what are you going to do now? How are going to make a fire? Well, it's simple. Just follow my lead.

Step 1: Get Your Wood

Picture of Get Your Wood

Find some reasonably wet wood, not some you found floating in the water. Then you're going to put it into a pile.

Step 2: Start Shaving

Picture of Start Shaving

Once you find some wood, if you break it in half, you will notice it is dry inside. Then with your knife/hatchet, you will shave the outside of it until you find dry wood. Shave the rest until like so.

Step 3: Fuzz Stick

Picture of Fuzz Stick

If you like, you could make a "Fuzz Stick", which is the stick with attached shavings to help start the wood on fire. Or you could get the shavings off and make tinder for your fire also, or just do both. After that you can set up your fire however you like. I suggest the "Log Cabin". It's like the Lincoln Logs you grew up with other than the roof. Thanks for viewing!!!


HelenaTroy (author)2015-10-20

when camping I always keep some tinder and small wood under cover. And a tobacco tin of pencil or other shavings, with a pencil and sharpener for topping it up! once you get a tiny fire going, you can use it to dry more wood

I see people taking along 35 mm film cans with stuff, tobacco tins with pencil shavings and all kinds of bulking things , Why not just place 3 or 4 of those small boxes of wooden matches in a sandwich bag and be done with it, its light weight,plenty of instant tinder and ignition.

fusion (author)rogersr.ingalls2015-11-29

Matches (in the US) have a chemical added lower down the sick that puts out the flame. For survival this is less efficient.
Paper matches have the same, you can see it if you turn them over

tobacco pouches are foldable when empty, and waterproof when full!

putting a thin coat of wax or nail varnish on match heads keeps them waterproof, just scrape off and strike.

I think the point in the Instructable was to burn wet wood, not light damp matches! lol don't matter how dry your matches are if the wood's soaking wet!

AndrewG47 (author)2015-10-20

Vaseline and cotton balls. I could light a cinder block with those two things lol.

oilitright (author)AndrewG472015-10-20

I'd pay to see that:)

FredR9 (author)oilitright2015-10-20

Save your hard-earned money, pack a sealable freezer bag every time I camp,

foolproof method of starting a fire, wet or not

wheeets (author)FredR92015-10-20

I don't understand how do you start a fire with a seal able freezer bag

justbennett (author)wheeets2015-10-27

I thought maybe he meant to save your money and put it in the bag to start a fire with. Must be a sadistic rich guy.

The cotton balls make more sense.

definingsound (author)FredR92015-10-20

With a bag?

mmiller79 (author)definingsound2015-10-21

I believe what FredR9 was trying to say was that he packs a sealable freezer bag full of vaseline and cotton balls when he goes camping. He just didn't articulate it properly.

gigiopil (author)2015-10-26

good old advice, one of very few and working ways to light a fire without any other kind of tinder in wet weather, along with a lot of patience!

burnerjack01 (author)2015-10-24

Lots of great comments about building fires in less than ideal conditions below.

To those who have not read it, I would like to mention a short story called "To Light A Fire" by the great author Jack London. An awesome cautionary tale.

pfred2 (author)2015-09-17

Hmm log cabin. I favor tee-pee style myself. It is easier to build, and makes more thermal sense. I mean heat rises. But once you get a good bed of coals going then crosshatch works good. Crosshatch is when you lay one layer of wood one way, then lay the next layer 90 degrees to it. Three courses usually burns OK. You have to maintain the right air gap between all of your timbers though. About an inch, or so works for me.

Skip that old saying, where there's smoke, there's fire. Where there's flames, there's fire! If your fire is smoking then you're doing something wrong.

inspect366 (author)pfred22015-10-20

Pfred2, What you said IS a Log Cabin fire. You start out building a Tee Pee fire and place logs around it like you described doing, making a log cabin type around the Tee Pee.

pfred2 (author)inspect3662015-10-21

I did not describe the teepee at all in my comment. I described how I build a burning stack, after I get a bed of coals going. Sorry for the confusion. That isn't how to build a log cabin fire starter either BTW. Log cabins are two by two, alternating perpendicular wise, with a gap in the middle for kindling. Much like a log cabin is, with something inside it. I make my burning mats 3 pieces wide, with just flame gaps.

JohnKovac (author)2015-10-21

Very useful DIY. I've used it many times and IT WORKS !

SLKSr (author)2015-10-21

I've used this method, and vasoline soaked cotton balls,and steel wool w/battery along with a teepee, or new england matter, fire is what's important as end result.

DirkJ1 (author)2015-10-20

Great Instructable Cap'n. I hope that you like and use some of these other ideas as well.

I keep a magnesium and striker as well as vacuum packed dryer lint (a few tests will show how much you need in a package) with a few strike anywhere matches in each of the two or three packages of lint. All of this is in my medical kit with my ultra-light mini back up knife, string etc.. In a pinch the dryer lint can be used medically as well as a bandage or to staunch blood flow. This medical kit is in my fanny pack (survival basics only including superglue for sutures) for even day trips along with sesame seed hard candies for instant energy and extra water purification tabs.

As a rule, I try and figure out how everything in my backpack can be used at least two ways and that for necessities I have two ways of covering each necessity (matches and magnesium)

Always remember to plan three days survival plus your planned trip, that includes a day hike! Know every possibility of WATER! Dry camping in emergencies is not the goal! You will never regret coming back with a little survival grade energy supplies and knowing you were safe.

MichaelR5 (author)2015-10-20

Working towards Eagle! Nice! I'm sure you'll be a great success! Very nice job on this instructable.

I MP (author)2015-10-20

Good tip about shaving down wet wood to get to dry wood. Fallen trees also provide a similar source. Living and camping in Minnesota and Wisconsin I have access to birch bark which will ignite when wet. Breaking off small twigs from standing trees will also assist in starting a wet wood fire. When I was in the southern states we looked for pine stumps for fat wood or pitch wood as fire starters.

To my knowledge and understanding a Lincoln Log fry lay and a tee pee are separate and distinct fire lays. Fire requires three things, fuel oxygen and an ignition source, the vertical lay of a tee pee provides more oxygen by creating a chimney effect

Captain MacTavish (author)I MP2015-10-20


LondoB5 (author)2015-10-20

Great tip on this method. This is what they teach you in Boy Scouts. I had to do it many times for a skill award or two back in the day. Great 'ible.

However, I prefer road flares. They even ignite wet wood.

I'm in Boy Scouts right now. I am working on my Eagle. I'm also 13 years old!

Tworowans (author)2015-10-20

A lovely and simple instruction piece. Clearly understood. Many thanks Cap

The grammar semantics are surely unnecessary? Misunderstanding the distinction between 'its' and 'it's does create confusion. But.

The fact is that...'it's' means both 'it is' and 'it has'

The apostrophe marks the omission of one or more letters

DonnH1 (author)2015-10-20

If you have an empty 35 mm film can take it with you when hiking. Look for pines, firs, and spruce trees that have pitch on them. Scrape it into the film container and save for a day when you may be caught outdoors with nothing but wet wood around. Pitch burns with a high heat an will help ignite other material around it. A great fire starter. Good to use with the fuzz sticks mentioned in this article.

kriekit (author)DonnH12015-10-20

Uhm. I don't want to be 'that person', but if you're going to plan to take a 35mm film can with you, then you might as well fill it with fire starter in advance.

Moose Dr (author)2015-10-20

Making fire with wet wood is definitely not easy. There are good suggestions here. Let me add my little suggestion. When seeking wood in wet conditions, look on the bottom of fallen trees. If a tree is laying on its side, but is not all the way to the ground, the trunk acts like a roof offering some protection from rain for the underside branches. If its been down for a while, the wood is also nicely seasoned.

Once I have a fire, if I want to keep it going, I pile wet wood near the fire, it tends to dry out. I also keep it under cover, I usually use a plastic sheet to make a lean-to.

stephen.jenkins.792 (author)2015-10-20

Old school hand-held pencil sharpener in the pocket guarantees dry tinder shavings from any dead twig. Grapevine bark shredded is another great alternative for tinder, as it hangs off the ground and vertical in most cases.

cowgirlgail (author)2015-09-27

wow, so easy.who would have thought. Thanks. I camp a lot and get caught in rain . Can't wait to try out.


Yonatan24 (author)2015-09-18

Can't you make the wood even wetter and drop some sodium... BOOM...

RyanT9 (author)Yonatan242015-09-18

man if only francium lasted, you could scare off any thing with that....

jmdushi (author)2015-09-17

Good tip if you can not find birch. Birch bark is burning even when wet (fresh or wet from rain), just start with small pieces.

About This Instructable




Bio: Hunting. Fishing. Survival.
More by Captain MacTavish:Two ways to Set Up Your Fire with Helpful TipsHow to Make a Fire with Wet WoodAltoid Survival kit!
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