Many outdoor enthusiasts love sitting around a campfire at night, telling ghost stories or roasting marshmallows. Not many people, however, think about the benefits of seasoning firewood. Seasoned firewood is basically thoroughly dried wood used for heat. Seasoned wood burns at a hotter temperature than unseasoned or "green" wood, and will also produce less smoke. Typically wood is cut into cords, split, then set out to dry for the winter season, and not used until the next winter season after it has dried thoroughly. In a wilderness environment, you may be surrounded by wet or moist wood, and your only option is to season the wood quickly to create warmth.
Gather short pieces of wood. Moisture tends to collect and travel along wood grains. The longer the grain, the more moisture will be locked into the wood. Wood pieces about 1.5 feet in length are ideal.
Strip the bark off completely with a knife. Glide the knife along the log until the bark is peeled off. Stand the log up vertically on the ground, and whittle the bark off in a downward motion to ensure safety. This is the same action as peeling a cucumber; you're just taking the skin off. This will allow the wood to purge moisture much faster.
Split the wood with an ax if possible. If the wood is four inches in diameter or greater, you should try to split it into two pieces. Use an ax if available, or a large knife.
Build a fire with whatever dried material you can find such as leaves, old papers, dried sagebrush, bark or other dry kindling.
Place a large rock next to the fire and lean the wood on the rock. Rotate the wood every five minutes to effectively heat the wood thoroughly. The wood should be dried out to burn efficiently in about a half hour.
- Extinguish your fire completely before leaving your camp site. Failure to do so can result in large forest fires.
- Always carry a fire-starter kit while out in the wilderness should a survival situation arise.
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