There’s nothing like a warm campfire when you’re cold and wet following a long day of walking.
However, if you’re new to starting a fire and there’s only wet wood around, you might not think it’s possible or know how to start a fire with wet wood.
In this article, I will provide you with a step-by-step guide on how to start a fire with wet wood.
Without further ado, let’s get started.
The Complete Guide: How To Start A Fire With Wet Wood
Step 1: Collect Twigs and Large Logs for the Fire
When starting a fire with wet wood, the first thing you need to do is gather a large amount of firewood, ranging from small twigs to larger logs. Finding and gathering lots of dead twigs and small branches is key.
Once you have collected twigs and smaller pieces of wood, you need to start looking for larger pieces of wood and logs. Try to avoid anything that has been laying on the ground for too long as these bits of wood will be saturated with water, and may also have many creepy crawlies hidden under them.
Step 2: Make Some Dry Kindling
Next, you’ll need to make some dry kindling in order to make the fire lighting process as easy as possible. Start by splitting a large log into quarters using a hatchet. The inside of larger logs will be the driest wood that you can find and is incredibly handy to have on hand.
Following this, grab your hatchet or knife and shave the dry wood to create some dry kindling. Snap all the small twigs and then lay them in a heap next to where the fire is to be made.
Step 3: Use Logs or Rocks to Build a Platform
Next, you should use large logs or rocks to build yourself a platform that will hold your fire off the ground.
This will provide your fire with essential air flow and keep it off the sodden, saturated ground after heavy rainfall.
Step 4: Build Your Fire in a Teepee Shape
After you’ve built a platform, you need to build your fire into a teepee shape using small twigs and branches, placing the kindling underneath. This also allows for good airflow, dries more pieces of wood when burning, and helps your fire light quicker.
You can also lay one large log down, leaning the rest against that and lighting your fire underneath.
Step 5. Light Your Kindling to Start the Fire
You are now ready to light your kindling. If you have any paper, cloth or other material to help ignite your fire you should place it in with your kindling before lighting it.
To light the fire, you should use a lighter or matches to set the dry kindling or paper alight to get it going. It is worth mentioning that you may need to gently blow on the fire to help it along. Once the kindling is lit, it will burn and catch onto the small twigs you have placed on top.
Step 6. Add Wood Slowly Working Up By Size
Once you’ve set the kindling alight, you’ll have a small fire. Continue to add wood slowly to the fire, working up by size. It’s important to keep adding plenty of wood to the fire to help it along and keep alight, remembering not to overload or smother it.
Lay the rest of your wood close to the fire allowing it to dry before burning. It’s important to note that wet wood produces more smoke and more harmful by-products, which pollute the air. As a result, you shouldn’t sit too close to the fire. However, as you’ll be out in the open, this isn’t as big of a problem as it is when it comes to burning wet wood indoors.
Step 7. Put Out the Fire
As important as it is to light your fire, it is equally important to put it out when you have finished with it before you leave. You can do this by extinguishing it with water.
How to Extinguish a Fire Safely:
Fill a bucket with water and pour it on top of the campfire. Make sure that you aren’t standing directly above or downhill from the fire to avoid inhaling smoke or hot steam.
Mix up the ashes and embers with a stick or shovel. As you stir the remnants of the fire, you may uncover more red embers or burning wood which must be extinguished before you leave.
Scrape off the burnt parts on the sticks and logs. Use your stick or shovel to scrape off any partially burnt sticks or logs to ensure that they are fully extinguished. This may reveal more burning embers under the surface of the wood.
Pour more water on the fire. After you’ve stirred the fire thoroughly, you’ll want to add more water to it to extinguish any remaining embers that may have come off burning pieces of wood.
Repeat the steps until the fire is cool to the touch. Continue dousing the area and mixing the soot and embers to ensure that you’ve put out the fire fully. The fire is fully extinguished when it’s completely cool to the touch.
As a last resort, you can smother the fire with dirt or sand.
Tips for Starting a Fire in Wet Weather
- Make sure that you use wood from the inside of logs. This is the driest part of the wood.
- Use large logs or rocks to build a platform that will hold your fire off the wet, saturated ground. This will give your fire a better chance of burning.
- Having plenty of extra kindling is always the key to starting a good fire.
- Always bring extra materials with you to get your fire started, such as a knife or hatchet and a lighter or matches.
- Lay the extra wet wood you have collected beside your fire to help it dry out as you go.