Using Wet Wood to Start a Campfire

Using Wet Wood to Start a Campfire

(Last Updated: August 7, 2019)

During winter, when the snow has covered the whole ground or on rainy days when clouds wet every inch, campers often feel it hard to start a fire with wet wood. Sometimes it seems impossible to start a fire and create a bonfire.  

Everyone usually carries a lighter, tinder and some cardboard to start a fire along, but with wet wood, it seems impossible to start. But you know what, the great campers find a way form non-resourceful person to become one who is resourceful. You can develop these skills gradually once you start exploring the world.

And we find a way to start a fire with wet wood, without any further ado let’s start and see how we can become resourceful without resources.

What things you need to get started?

What things you need to get started?

First things first, you need some things which you will require to start a fire with wet wood. Tinder is one of them, and it is the smallest but quickly combustible material used by campers for making fire. Campers use tinder to make a fire because it catches fire quickly and easily as compared to wood.

If you do not have tinder or know where to find it than don’t worry, you can make it on your own. You can find materials that are quickly combustibles like paper, cotton balls soaked in petroleum jelly and tree bark, and wood shavings.

You can pack paper and cotton balls soaked in petroleum jelly before leaving and collect the wood shavings and tree bark at the site of the fire. As a matter of fact, you during the wet season you can find dry tree very easily. Meanwhile, as you are already out, you are good to pick up some dry branches if you can find any.

How to find the best natural tinder around in the woods?

  1. You can also use natural tinder that is available around you. If you start to look around for tinder available in the woods it has to have three qualities.
  2. It should be dead, not rotten. A rotten plant has lost its fuel value and it will not burn well as it is decomposed and rotten.
  3. The tinder you are using is nice and dry. If you cannot find a completely dry piece, then look for something with the least amount of moister. 
  4. The last thing is it needs to be airy and light and have some mass that can burn, like a newspaper can catch fire quickly but the thing is it does not have any mass that can help to burr the small twigs or any other wood. 

Building fire from wet wood. A step-by-step guide

Once you have all the dry material you have collected, you are good to go for starting a fire. Now collect some woods which you will use to make fire a follow the steps, and you can create fire with wet woods as you do with dry.

Step 1. Find the sweet spot

The first step to light a fire is to find a nice clean and dry spot in the woods. Look around and find a spot in the middle of some shade if it is raining or pick a dry spot where you want to camp. Clean the grass around and throw the damp grass and twigs away so there will be no chance of spreading the fire. It is important, grass dries quickly and catches the fire if you don’t throw it away there is a chance you can cause damage.  

Step 2. Build a fire bed

fire bed

Once you have figured out the spot and cleaned it for safety you are good to go to make a fire bed. It is certain that ground around you is wet and if you try to start fire directly, it will unfortunately not work. The first thing you need to do is lay a bed on the ground. This is very simple; you need to arrange the pieces of dry sticks as a stack. Place them on top of another and make at least three to four layers.

The fire bed will keep the soggy ground and fire apart and provide additional stability for fire.

Step 3. It’s time to set your tinder

camping fire tinder

Now it is time to set your tinder, kindling, and log piles. Make sure you log piles a few inches away from your fire bed. If you do so it is very likely that your log files lose their legs and become useless.

Step 4. Lighten up the tinder

light up fire tinder

It’s time for the show, start lighting your tinder either it is paper, cotton balls or tree barks and shavings. Don’t light all, make it slow and steady or you will lose your tinder before actual logs catch fire.

Step 5. Time to toss kindling 

Once the fire is steady throw some more kindling, make it slowly and repeat the process until the file becomes stable and kindling starts burning. In the meantime, you can keep your main logs close to dry them out.

Step 6. Showtime, add the logs

fire logs

It’s time for the final show, add the logs into the fire gradually once you see the fire is stable and can absorb more logs. Make it slow and add smaller pieces to make it a peaceful process. If you add the larger Pieces first, you can kill the fire because of low oxygen supply to the base.

The finest way to stack up and keep the fire long is through a pyramid shape. Put the thinnest logs at the bottom, medium-sized in middle and larger ones on top to create a pyramid and keep your fire burning for a long time.

There you go! The fire is ready.  

And for you lazy ones, here is a short video telling it all:

Extra tips for starting a fire with wet wood

Always stick with the sticky stuff

Yeah, it is a thumb rule you can call it, the sticky stuff catches fire easily and keep it burning for a long time. You can find some pine cones, spruce, firs or any other needle-bearing trees as ignition and kindling. It is important to note that collect thee from standing dried trees, not from the ground, there is a big chance the twigs on the ground have absorbed a high amount of moister and they are wet inside. 

Peel it all off

Peel ever piece of wood and check if it is dry inside. Bark saves the wood from fire, it is a kind of protector of the wood. Tear down the bark, peel the wet wood and chop it to find nice and dry wood inside. 

Split and burn

Once you have peeled all the wet skin its time to split the woods into small pieces, split it lengthwise so you can use them as kindling and expose the real dry part which was hidden inside. The inner side of the wood is highly flammable, and it burns better than the outer part. 

Make a nice shape

People do think the shape is all-important for making a quickfire and keep it burning all day. They just throw all the things randomly and the never builds up or it is dead before the night ends. 

It is important to keep a nice shape not too flat neither too tall in both cases the fire is doomed. Start from a flatbed and rise in the shape of a pyramid it will keep the fire burning nice and steady all night. 

Always use tinder

Yes, tinder plays an important role in burning fire in wet conditions. It can be anything tree bark, wood shavings, tinder from the market, cotton balls soaked in petroleum jell, pencil shavings or anything that catches fire quickly and helps in burning the twigs and branches. 

Use the wind

Yes, first check the direction of the wind and then light the fire it will help as a natural blow to your fire and provide good oxygen and keep the fire burning for a long time. 

Never make a mountain of fire

Never make a fire to high, keep it low and flat as much as possible. It will keep your fire burning for a long time. High fires tend to burn all the wood quickly and there will be nothing left in few hours once it is burning.

Final thoughts

Yeah, we know it, it is a scrupulous task and everyone especially campers must learn how to create fire from wet woods. Here we tried to entertain every pinch of detail about it, and we hope after reading this article it will be much easier for you to start the fire on your own.

Let’s catch up it again, you need some small equipment to create fire from wet wood. You can carry along tinder, paper, cotton balls soaked in petroleum jelly, or anything that can catch fire quickly. I must remind you one thing, always build a fire from the way up. Starting from tinder then kindle and in last fire the logs. And make sure you light it slowly and use smaller pieces first to assure the stability.

So what do you think campers?

Do you think you got some more ideas or tips to share with the world?

Did we miss something here?

We would love your feedback, leave a comment below and share your thoughts or any of your story. 


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