Fatwood is prized because it lights readily with an open flame; it burns very well; and it burns even in wet weather. The resin in the wood makes fatwood almost waterproof and very flammable, which are both great qualities in fire starting. The fatwood can be cut and split into small sticks for kindling, or carved into shavings for tinder. To find yourself a ready supply of this fire starting wonder, look through a pine forest until you come across a stump with only the center remaining. This center (heart wood) should seem solid. Cut off some pieces of this wood, and give them a look and a sniff. If they look like perfectly good wood (not rotten at all), then smell the pieces. If it really is fatwood, it will smell strongly of pine cleaner and resin, with the sharp odor of turpentine. Burn it for your final test. Good fatwood makes thick black smoke. Use strips, shavings or chunks to get your fire going in good weather and bad.
These tips, and many more survival skills, are available in MacWelch’s books:
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and check out more of MacWelch’s outdoor skills and survival articles at Outdoor Life Magazine’s survival site, The Survivalist