How to Start a Fire With Wet Wood – 6 Pro Tips
There’s nothing worse than using wet wood to start a fire. It can seem like an impossible task that is doomed from the start. Once your firewood has been soaked from an unpredictable rainstorm, you may think it’s game-over for starting a fire that night, but we have 6 pro tips that you can use the next time you are starting a fire with wet wood.
Why it’s Difficult to Start a Fire with Wet Wood
Starting a fire with wet wood is difficult because the moisture that is trapped within the wood immediately cools the fire that comes in contact with it, causing excessive smoke and cooling the heat of the fire.
For wood to catch fire quickly, the fire needs to be hot. When wood is wet, it significantly cools the fire, preventing it from catching fire. This can cause excessive smoke to come from the wood you’re trying to use for your fire.
6 Pro Tips for Starting a Fire with Wet Wood
Pro Tip #1: Pick a Location with a Dry Cover
Before you collect the first piece of tinder or kindling, you need to pick a location to start your fire. If it has been raining, you’ll need to choose a location that has a dry cover. Water from rain or melted snow can quickly rain down onto your fire, undoing all of the work it took to start a fire with wet wood, so make sure you choose a location that has a dry cover before getting started.
Pro Tip #2: Collect Lots of Tinder and Kindling
Because you’ll need to get the fire as hot as possible for burning wet wood, you’ll need lots of tinder. Tinder is the material that you will ignite to start the fire. Tinder should always be dry so that it ignites quickly and easily. Tinder includes leaves, pine needles, tree bark, fungus, and cotton. Gather as much tinder as possible to quickly and easily ignite the fire.
Kindling is smaller sticks that will catch fire from the tinder and burn slower than tinder. Kindling is required for any fire, but especially a fire with wet wood. Without it, your tinder will burn out and you’ll have to start over.
Kindling should be small in diameter so that it catches fire quickly but doesn’t burn too fast. Twigs, small sticks, and tree bark all make for great kindling.
If you can’t find any dry kindling, split a log into quarters so that the inside of the log is exposed. Then, using a large knife or a hatchet, cut pieces off from the middle of the log. This will be the driest part of the log and will create the best kindling. You can also scrape off the outside layer of small sticks to remove any wet bark, but the inside can still be wet if the sticks are small in diameter.
Pro Tip #3: Build Your Fire Structure off the Ground
Keeping the wet wood off the ground will help keep your wood dry and feed oxygen throughout your fire. Oxygen will help the fire burn hot which can help any wet wood get hot enough to catch fire.
You can build your fire off the ground by taking rocks and building a platform for the tinder and kindling to sit atop. You can also do this with large logs. When the fire gets hot enough, the logs should eventually catch fire, feeding your fire without having to manually add more wood.
Pro Tip #4: Structure Your Fire Like a TeePee
The best structure shape for a fire with wet wood is to position it like a teepee. This means to place the wood for the fire vertically, with the top end of all of the wood meeting together at the center above the fire tinder and kindling and then spreading the wood out further apart from one another around the perimeter of the fire.
In the middle of your structure should be the tinder and kindling. This structure shape will allow the tinder and kindling to burn hot and begin to dry out the wet wood surrounding it. You should place the tinder first and then surround the tinder with the kindling.
Pro Tip #5: Light the Tinder
Using a flint fire starter or matches, light the tinder. The tinder should catch quickly and burn hot, catching the kindling on fire from the hot tinder. The kindling should burn hot but slower than the tinder.
If the tinder is having trouble catching fire, try blowing on it. Blowing on the fire will add oxygen to the fire which will feed it. Fire needs three components to burn: oxygen, heat, and fuel. Sometimes heat and fuel aren’t enough for fire to burn, so try blowing on the fire to add oxygen and make it burn hotter. However, you can quickly burn through your tinder if it burns hot and doesn’t ignite the kindling.
Keep more tinder and kindling nearby to feed the fire and keep it hot. You will likely need to do this a few times before the wet wood catches fire.
The most important thing to remember is to always keep the fire hot. If the fire doesn’t burn hot, the wet wood will likely only smoke and never catch fire. It’s imperative to keep feeding the fire with tinder and kindling so that it stays hot and eventually ignites the wet wood and keeps it burning.
Pro Tip #6: Slowly Add Wood to the Fire
Once the fire structure has caught and the wood has begun to burn, you’ll need to continue adding wood to the fire. Make sure you don’t add too much wet wood at one time, as this will lower the temperature of the fire. Instead, take small pieces of wet wood and cut off the outer layer, exposing the drier layers inside. Then, add them slowly to your fire, keeping the fire hot and igniting the wet wood.
There you have it! Starting a fire with wet wood doesn’t have to be an impossible task if you have the right tips to follow. We’re sure that the next time it rains on your hunting or camping trip that you will be able to build a fire from wet wood with no problem.