When it comes to building campfires, the drier the wood, the better. If wood contains too much water, you may struggle to ignite it. And even if you do ignite it, it may produce an excessive amount of smoke with minimal fire.
Whether it’s a softwood or hardwood, wood is like a sponge. It constantly absorbs moisture from its surrounding environment. When it rains, wood absorbs the moisture vapor from the air, making the firewood difficult to burn. So, how do you build a fire with wet wood such as this?
It’s recommended that you stay away from lighter fluid, gasoline or other flammable liquids when attempting to light wet firewood. While it may ease the process of lighting the wood, it also increases the risk of injury. The flammable liquid can spill in your backpack and seep through your clothes, or it may get accidentally knocked over into the fire. Either way, there’s simply too many things that can go wrong with using flammable liquids in a fire.
To begin, gather small pieces of wood from covered areas such as under tree canopies and against ridges. Smaller pieces are easier to light, and once you get that initial flame, you can add larger pieces.
Because moisture typically only penetrates the outer layer of wood, you can strip it away to better prepare it for burning. Using a knife or hatchet, carefully strip away the outer layer from your wood, discarding it to the side. Next, place this newly stripped wood around some tinder and kindling and light the center. Without the wet exterior, it should ignite with relative ease, allowing you to enjoy the warmth of a campfire.
Of course, you might be wondering how long it takes wet firewood to dry out and become more suitable for burning. Well, it depends on several factors, including the species of wood, size, surrounding humidity, and level of exposure to sunlight. With that said, it usually takes several months for wet firewood to completely dry out to the point where it’s “seasoned” and ideal for burning.
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