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Use Fatwood: Best Natural Fire Starter

Updated on October 4, 2011

What Is Fatwood

Fatwood is nature’s kindling. Fatwood is 100% natural, and its high concentration of natural resin is what males fatwood so flammable. That’s why you need no more than a single match and a stick or two of fatwood kindling to start a roaring fire.

True fatwood is chemical- and toxin-free, so it is good for the environment and better for you to breathe than Duraflames or other commercial fire starters that rely on chemical fire accelerants. In North America, fatwood originally was harvested from mature pine stumps left behind by the logging industry, so true fatwood gives off a nice pine smell, too.

Use fatwood to light fires in home fireplaces, to get barbecues going, to light a wood burning stove or you can even bring fatwood on camping trips to get the campfire going.

Fatwood goes by several names, including "fat lighter," "rich lighter" and "heart pine." This last name best describes what fatwood is: It is "heart wood," essentially an old piece of pine wood that comes from a pine tree's stump or bottom, or else at the joint of a tree limb, since these are the parts of a tree with the highest concentration of resin. Heartwood is particularly hard and rot resistant. Pretty much any kind of pine tree can produce fatwood, so long as it has resin.

Uses for Fatwood

Pine resin is incredibly flammable, so fatwood is widely regarded as the best kindling around. It lights quickly and burns very hot, even when wet; fatwood can even remain lit in strong winds. Truly resinous fatwood can produce heavy smoke, and that fatwood smoke works well as natural bug or mosquito repellant. Bring fatwood on your next camping trip to get the campfire going easily, and to keep away the bugs!

Fatwood is sometimes used to produce turpentine, and it can be cooked down to make pitch or pine tar — essentially a heavier and more concentrated resin than fatwood.

Fatwood makes a wonderful present for the guy who has everything. Fatwood has so many uses, it's a versatile present for brothers in law, stepfathers, as a hostess gift or housewarming present or pretty much any other occasion. It's not terribly expensive, and it doesn't take very much fatwood to start a roaring fire, so a 20 lb. bag will last a while.


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    • s.carver profile image

      s.carver 6 years ago from San Francisco

      I gather fatwood has lots of regional names; "lighterd" is a great one! I love the stuff, and gave it to my brother in law for Christmas. He'd never heard of it, and has quickly become a convert.

    • Randy Godwin profile image

      Randy Godwin 7 years ago from Southern Georgia

      Very informative article! Here in southeast Georgia "lighterd" as it is called, is found everywhere. Most are remains of virgin longleaf pine timber once chipped for harvesting turpentine before being cut for timber.

      The best kindling you can find as well as being very aromatic. Almost instant fire.