You don’t really know what frustration is until you attempt to light up a fire using wet wood.
Starting a basic campfire can be a challenge in itself, not to mention if the firewood is partially soaked in water.
However, there are various ways in which you can make wet wood burn and enjoy the benefits of a warming fire.
If you can master this ability, you are already way up on the prepper’s skillset ladder, and you will feel much more relieved for this matter.
Just imagine being alone in the wild, wet and feeling cold. Your only thought is of the heating light of a campfire, warming yourself up, drying your clothes, and ultimately signalling for help.
You realise just how vital a fire is in your situation. You can recover your strengths, feel comfortable again, and even enjoy a warm meal.
But everything is pretty wet around you. So, what is there to be done?
The first thing to have in mind is that water usually infiltrates the outer layers of wood, so if you have a sharp utensil by your side (like a knife or hatchet) you should use it to peel off the damp exterior layer.
Additionally, you can split the firewood in two, or even chop it into smaller pieces and place it in the sun to dry (if available) or on a dry bedrock.
Remember to steer clear of the area near streams or creeks because they attract more humidity and all wood found in their vicinity will be even more soaked in water.
After you’ve acquired a sufficient stack of wood and tinder, you can employ any of the following methods and you will warm up by a campfire in no time.
These fire starters require that you think beforehand and carry them with you in your bug-out bag for when the need arises.
Flammable Petroleum Balls
By dipping a cotton ball in petroleum jelly (Vaseline) you will have a potent low-cost fire starter that will burn for three minutes on average.
It’s advised to place them inside a sealed plastic bag to avoid any fire splinters jumping at or around you.
Each fireball lasts for about three minutes, which is just enough time for the tinder to dry out.
This is a great alternative to commercial fire starters that can be made for pennies on a dollar.
To be more precise, for $10 you can make about 200 of them. Just imagine how useful they will become during a SHTF scenario.
One of the most overlooked and budget-friendly-fire-starter is steel wood.
A heap of this highly flammable material will ignite in a blink of an eye and will burn at over 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit.
Another great property of steel wood is that it can be lit electrically. So, carrying with you a 9-volt battery and rubbing its terminals to the wool will set it on fire in a matter of seconds.
With everything damp around you, tree bark might not seem as a viable solution to your fire-starting problem.
However, if you peel off the bark of a tree a tree, you’ll notice how the underside is bone-dry.
Use your knife to forage thin wood fibres by scraping the interior of the bark and you will have the perfect kindling for your fire.
One of the most common snacks on the market can serve as a great means for lighting up a fire. I’ve already told you in a previous e-mail how mostly every chips brand is flammable and how great it works as tinder.
This time the focus is on Doritos chips, as these seem to burn the longer and they also ignite extremely fast. The reason they make such a great fire starter is their composition, which is rich in oil, powdered flavours and other chemicals.
If you have an extra bag of chips and no available dry tinder to light up your campfire, just toss a few pieces at the bottom of firewood stack and let the magic happen.
Do not use chips as tinder if you’re attempting an upside-down fire and the firewood is wet, it won’t work as expected.
Of course, there are additional ways and items that will help you ignite a fire when everything around you is soaked in water, but the highlighted methods are the most affordable and easiest to get your hands on.
Remember to build your fire base on a bedrock, a few centimetres off ground level, because the soil contains the most humidity and will most likely deny your attempt to maintain the fire running.
I hope these tips and tricks will come handy to you one day. And keep in mind that you don’t have to wait for a SHTF situation to experiment with all these.