How To Start A Campfire With Wet Wood

M.D. Creekmore

I've been interested in self-reliance topics for over 25 years. I’m the author of four books that you can find here. Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about prepping, homesteading, and self-reliance topics through first-hand experience and now I want to share what I’ve learned with you.

10 Responses

  1. Greg M. says:

    M.D., You covered all the salient basics. It’s good to be reminded from time to time. Thanks for a good article.

  2. JP in MT says:

    This may sound like cheating but….

    When I was a teen in the Boy Scouts in Oregon, I had a way of starting our fires that worked every time, no matter how wet it was. I used a 15-minute highway flare! Stacked the wood into a typical pyramid, lit and stuck the flare under the wood, and we had fire every time. I did get caught, but it took 6 months.

    They were not that heavy or expensive.

    • mom of three says:

      Oh you rebel LOL… Hubby uses a small propane BernzOmatic, thats how it spelled in a blue canister it’s 14.1 oz and that’s how we start our fires in the fireplace. He has a larger propane thats a yellow canister, that he keeps on his van for various uses on his job… Sometimes cheating is okay….

  3. Ben says:

    I like to find some pine pitch and use that as a base to start my fire. The dried pitch will work just as well as the soft and sticky stuff. Put it on a bit of wood or bark and it will burn like a candle.

  4. Jack says:

    MD, good read man, it will help folks focus on priorities in an emergency. Should an event occur, I think it prudent to use the most expedient means at your disposal to get set up for survival. Knowledge is power and separates victims from survivors. The knowledge stored in your grey matter gives you confidence for those times your first line supplies go missing, get “borrowed”, damaged or destroyed. Our basic plan is to be ready for emergency situations that 1. happen when we are at home, 2. when away from home travelling or 3. when the kids are at school. When you have a quick method to do things such as build a fire, do it, save your time and energy for other important tasks. That is NOT cheating, it is working smart. Wrong time to demonstrate your skill with bow, drill and fireboard unless it is a necessity.

  5. Ed says:

    In a Survival situation, there are NO RULES.

  6. Mechanic says:

    Don’t forget the sisal twine. Pulled apart it makes a great tinder bundle. Starts up very easily from a fire steel.

  7. Penrod says:

    Good article.

    We camped one summer on the Salmon River, in Idaho, during a three day on and off drizzle which left everything pretty soggy.

    Even on the third morning I was able to find dry pine needles and tiny branches -less than matchstick diameter- under the ponderosa pine.

    As I gather the starter material I segregate it by size, a pile of needles, then a pile of the tiniest branches, and so on. This lets me grab each as appropriate while feeding the beginning of the fire.

    Most of our logs were wet, so I batoned each at least twice to provide two dry inside surfaces which intersected at a dry edge. That gives a good thin dry spot for catching fire.

    We use petroleum soaked cotton balls and one of those is perfect. A big one burns about two minutes, which is plenty.

    Start with some needles, then a cotton ball, and a Swedish fire steel for the spark, then add needles, and so on.

    It may help to fuzz out the cotton ball first to produce thin spikes. They catch easier.

    A steel works FAR better than matches in wet weather. Match heads tend to disintegrate when struck. Also, newspaper is lousy in wet weather as it smolders without producing any heat. A good tinder and a steel are the way to go.

    Or use a Bic! Whatever works.

    One useful tool with wet materials is a battery operated air mattress pump. It blows a lot of air and really gets a fire going. They usually operate on four D batteries. Very handy for pumping mattresses and for starting fires.

  8. me says:

    Try rubbing a 9V battery terminals on steel wool… good fire starter.