Starting A Fire With Wet Fuel

Starting A Fire With Wet Fuel

Picture this: you're out in the woods, the camp is made, and you're ready to start up a fire and cook dinner. As you search the surrounding area for kindling, all you can find is wet wood. No big deal, there must be a dry area with some solid fuel you can use. You search for a few more minutes with no luck and look down at the wet firewood in your hand. It looks like this is all you have. So what can you do? Some may resign themselves to a cold evening with a cold meal, but not you. You've got some tricks up your sleeve to help you get a roaring fire going.

Starting a fire

The first thing you need to do is whip out your trusty pocket-knife. Typically, water will only penetrate the outer layers of dead wood, so you can use a knife or hatchet to cut away the damp outer layer. You also split larger pieces of wood into kindling. This should expose the dried inner layers. Use this kindling to start your fire.

*Tip - Pine is a great fire starter, the sap is flammable after it is heated.


Once you have a small fire going, use it to dry out your larger pieces of wood. Make sure not to smother your fire in an effort to dry more fuel. Start with wet pieces only a little larger than your original kindling, and only add more once they have dried completely. Keep a separate pile of stripped kindling handy to keep fueling your fire with dry wood.

After a little time, you should have a solid coal bed going and ready to cook up a hot meal.

Got any other tips for starting a fire with wet fuel? Let us know in the comments below?


  • Dave Clark

    Birch bark, hot fast, does not absorb water, or pine needles, usually dry at the base of low branches. Or possibles container with cotton balls soaked in isoropyl alcohol, dryer lint balls soaked in used cooking grease. EZ light tab, and a couple handfulls of hardwood pellets in a keep dry bag usually drys enough wet wood to cook. PLAN AHEAD! Scrounge wood is always wet!

  • Bruce Julian

    Tawa and beech both burn when wet and green. Options there for podocarp and beech forrsts. Ex NZFS culler

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