Finding Fat Lighter - Fatwood Firestarter

Discussion in 'Survival Articles' started by survivalmonkey, Sep 17, 2005.

  1. survivalmonkey

    survivalmonkey Monkey+++

    If you live around or travel through some pine woods, take a walk one day and get some fat lighter wood. Fat lighter, fatwood, etc. is basically very old pine wood that has a high concentration of flammable sap. The tree's sap was concentrated in the stump when it fell or was cut down. Then, the sap dried. Here are a few pointers in looking for your fat lighter, should you pass through an area with pine woods.

    These are some pine woods behind my house.

    After searching for less than a minute, we come across a hopeful-looking stump.


    This is what we're looking for. To make sure, take your trusty hatchet and hack off a piece of the side. You should see some very rich-colored pine wood that (obviously) has a pine aroma. Sometimes, this aroma is so strong it smells like turpentine.

    This is definitely what we're looking for. We could just hack what we need off the top, but if transporting a lot of fat lighter or you are in need of a little extra nourishment (even in the winter if you're in the south), it's easier just to take out the whole stump. Kick the piss out of the stump with your heel and work it back and forth a little, breaking the few remaining large roots that haven't rotted.

    Now that we have it loosened, squat over the stump and grab it with both hands. Now push up with your legs and just use your hands to hold on. It is much easier squatting the stump than trying to wriggle it out with just your arms.

    Many times after you have pulled it out, there will be food laying on the ground beside it. Whether or not you eat this food will probably depend on how hungry you are. Yummy!

    Now take this stump and carry it to your camp. A good pointer for finding fat lighter is that there will always be something sticking up out of the ground. The less wood you can see protruding above the ground, the less fat lighter there is underground.

    Compare the little bit of usable fat lighter from this stump to the previous one.

    If there is nothing sticking out of the ground, there is a good chance that the only thing you'll get out of that hole is 'food' or mulch for your survival garden. Here is such a hole. Notice that no wood sticks out of the ground.

    After we clean the debris out of the stumphole, we are left with this.

    In this stage of decomposition, the water has flowed back into the wood fibers and the grubs and termites have eaten it down to mulch. These are rotten stumps. You won't be starting a fire with this stuff. You might possibly put one out with it.... Just for the record, this doesn't have the pine aroma. fatlighter12.

    Now we return to the house with our fat lighter and set it on fire with our tinder, lighter, matches, or whatever. A sooty black smoke comes from the fat lighter and it burns like a torch.

    When looking for fat lighter, you are looking for a pine stump with:

    1. Something sticking out above the ground

    2. A firm, rich-colored wood

    3. A strong pine smell
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 29, 2014
  2. Bear

    Bear Monkey+++ Founding Member Iron Monkey

    Another good one.... I got some of that stuff.... came with some spark firestarters I bought a while back.... that stuff smells great and yeah.... works like a dream!
  3. Quigley_Sharps

    Quigley_Sharps The Badministrator Administrator Site Supporter+++ Founding Member

    Yeah Fat Wood works great.
    Known as Pitch Wood out in these parts.
    Burns great even when some what wet.
  4. monkeyman

    monkeyman Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    We dont have a lot of that around here but I find that cotton balls and vasoline works great for catching a spark.
  5. melbo

    melbo Hunter Gatherer Administrator Founding Member

    We also have on evergreens what the locals call "pine knots", a big swell in the middle of a branch, prolly from a bug or other tree problem but they are full of pine resin and burn great.

    even underwater [camo]
  6. E.L.

    E.L. Moderator of Lead Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    And I just find out this past week that I am allergic to pine sap.
  7. Quigley_Sharps

    Quigley_Sharps The Badministrator Administrator Site Supporter+++ Founding Member

    ouch that sucks :shock:
  8. BigUglyOne

    BigUglyOne Monkey+++ Founding Member

    Take a small muffin paper (looks like a 1" paper cup, you can get them in the bakery section of the store), fill it with course saw dust and pour enough melted paraffin wax over it to just dampen all the saw dust. Store em in a Ziploc bag. They never go bad and work great as an accelerant for starting wood fires.

    You peel the paper back a bit and light that first
  9. kckndrgn

    kckndrgn Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    Also, if you can find them, you can use the cardboard egg cartens. Same method as above. Fill each egg slot with sawdust/wood chips (being a wood turner I have plenty) then pour in the melted wax. Once the wax dries, cut the individual "fire starters" apart.

    I actually use this method for starting my charcoal grill. I used to buy "fire starters", but when I found this method I started making my own fire starters.

  10. aviationlifesupport

    aviationlifesupport Monkey+++ Founding Member

    getting the fire going

    we allways used to use womens tampons in the kit to readily accept the spark from a commercial fire lighter ,
    damn , you can allways use the "lint" found in the corners of every windproof smock and BDU item on gods green one ,
    believe it or not you can also use belly button lint too (chewbacca allways has the best fires) :lol:

    just as a hint one of the cheapest and most effective items i carry and allways did is a lump of rubber cut from a tire ,
    its appx 6 inches long and 1 inch fat (my missus would tell you thats a lie) but were talking about the rubber from the tire :)

    get this baby ignighted with a lighter or a match and you can "drip" the red hot burning droplets of burning rubber onto damp tinder and kindleing and within a matter of mere seconds you will have a brammer fire going ,

    you might not think that you need to go this far to light a fire if you have a lighter or matches , but , i can tell you from experiance that living in places like england , wales , scotland , norway , and even guys on the JWIC in belieze ,
    when the mist , fog , rain , morning dew etc hit the kindelling its often a real bitch to get gowin , and this does the job !

    but then theres allways the FUN way by gerbering a 5.56 or a 7.62 to death and using the propellant as a starter :)
    no point dying of hyperthermia with a full mag is there ,

    Witch Doctor 01 likes this.
  11. melbo

    melbo Hunter Gatherer Administrator Founding Member

    Good point on the powder use. hadn't thought of that
  12. aviationlifesupport

    aviationlifesupport Monkey+++ Founding Member

    fun powder

    hey melbo ,

    yeah the use of ammunition and pyrotechnic propellant or charge has been around for some time ,
    i can garuntee it works ,

    only thing is it takes a severe situation or a serious instructor to teach the trick this properly without and disasterous consequences ,

    remember its only smalls arms that are good for this ,
    you start getting into the habbit of cranking mortar rounds and 105mm HE rounds and it starts getting very suspect , as well as very non cost effective ,

    the way to do it is NOT to assume the powder will get the worlds biggest and cosest fire going in mach-2 speed ,
    it is there as purely a igniter and possibly fuel help ,
    it wont burn for long but it will burn damn hot , very hot !

    the trick is to build a birds nest from dry/ lightly damp grass , reeds , etc , even the guts out of a field dressing if needed ,
    roll it all into a ball (loosely , dont forget the fire triangle) and then weasel a hole appx the size of your fist into the centre ,
    then you can pack it out with your tinder and the powder ,
    as soon as the spark catches dump the ball into the centre of your pre made fire ,

    practice makes perfect !

    remember the 7 P's -


    works every time ,

  13. BigUglyOne

    BigUglyOne Monkey+++ Founding Member

    LMAO I still use the 7 Ps at work ... the guys look at me kinda strange when I quote it b::
    Homer Simpson likes this.
  14. aviationlifesupport

    aviationlifesupport Monkey+++ Founding Member

    the 7 P's of knowledge

    hey ugly ,

    allways the same mate ,

    it was one of the first things i was ever taught ,

    makes sence , and it allways works ,

    like -

    CLAP when giving orders

    GRIT when giving or recieveing fire control orders ,

    and GSMESC in gen orders in the field ,

    but cant forget the classic KISS !

  15. Tracy

    Tracy Insatiably Curious Moderator Founding Member

    I know the 7 P's and KISS, but am unfamiliar with those. Please enlighten me.
  16. aviationlifesupport

    aviationlifesupport Monkey+++ Founding Member


    hi tracey ,

    ok ,

    one of the best ways to get something branded into a young soldiers mind is to adapt them to the use of keywords as early on in training as possible ,

    for instance ,

    if you use the keyword CLAP they will remember it for the format of giving any loud verbal commands either on the parade square or in the field ,
    CLAP = CLEAR , LOUD , AS an order , and with PAUSES ,

    and example ,
    instead of saying (parade , right dress)
    shout ,
    PARADE , RIIIIIIIIIIIGHT ......................DRESS !
    clearly , loudly , as an order (not a request) and dont forget the pauses ,

    now ,
    GRIT is the keyword taught to all soldiers as a means of remembering the right sequence to giving verbal fire control orders on the field ,
    evidently battles tend to be pretty noisey affairs in general ,

    so ,


    GROUP - which group is to fire (riflemen or the gun group ?)
    RANGE - what range ?
    INDICATION - where is the enemy ?
    TYPE - what type of fire ?

    so , and example -"gun group , 400 left of bushy top tree , 11 o'clock , RAPIIIIDDDD"

    perfectly simple , and easy to remember ,

    now ,
    here is GSMESC (often with a silent S on the end)
    GSMESC (s)
    this is the achronim for the sequence of orders to be given out by regiment , then down to company level , then onto platoon leval and so forth ,
    a great way to make those early morning plt commanders orders go swiftly and accurately ,
    remember any orders given are subject to immediate change on the field with regards to intelligence efforts and respects as to enemy movement ,

    stands for -
    G = ground
    S - situation
    M - mission / objective
    E - enemy / strength , supplys , morale , support , mounted or dismounted etc
    S - service and supply / have you got everything you need , individual eqt etc etc ammo food water ,
    C - communications / personal radios , section radio , call signs , etc etc ,

    and the silent (s) on the end is for synchronise watches ,

    the easy way to remember this sequence of orders is to remember something quite true -


    or at least they (s)hould do !

    hope this is a bit informative for you mate ,

    a bit long winded but truest me it works ,
    matter of fact on the 12th of october last year was when i hanged my boots up for the last time completeing nearly 12 years of service and leaving with the rank of SGT with a nice clean record and with a 100% pass rate as a senior sgt ,
    none of the lads and ladys i ever trained and put forward EVER failed or were TRU'd ,
    the only RTU'd members of my sqn were through medivac or pulled from exersises in the UK and abroad through health and safety reasons ,

    yeah , even this mans army is now subject to friggin health and safety and the ever present hastle of damn risk assesments etc ,

    i must be good (but im in no way the best , or anyware near it) but ,
    i was even offered a job with a company called blackwater over in the USA ,
    protecting american troops while they slept and training iraqi police for $1000 USD per week , every week ,

    only down side is ,
    i do this and i loose my british army pension and my rights at home ,
    we all know the score on companies like this ,

    whats worse is , you go into a shit hole like that without mother green and get into trouble ,
    you better wish you know what your talking about when it comes to survival ha ha ha your gonna need it as its a long walk home.........


    laraming and toydoc like this.
  17. BigUglyOne

    BigUglyOne Monkey+++ Founding Member

    1000 per week is way low ... I've heard of a few making nearly 3 per week. $150,000 is not unheard of.
  18. aviationlifesupport

    aviationlifesupport Monkey+++ Founding Member

    making money

    yes this is the case ugly ,

    some guys i know from danver CO are making sick ammounts of money every week ,
    but these guys have skills that are more or less unheard of in civillian life ,
    i know a military intelligence analyst who was in the US army for over 25 years ,
    he is raking in over the $4.5K mark plus all his added bonuses etc ,

    speak to sniper ,
    seems a lot of US army avn guys are getting poached for an awful lot of doller too !

    same as allways , when needs must................

  19. Tracy

    Tracy Insatiably Curious Moderator Founding Member

    Thanks a bunch for the info, Dave!
  20. melbo

    melbo Hunter Gatherer Administrator Founding Member

    Getting to be that time of year where fires can be important. Anyone out in the woods and working with fatlighter?
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