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Thread: Finding Fatwood; fat lighter; pitch wood in Alaska

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    Default Finding Fatwood; fat lighter; pitch wood in Alaska

    Under several different names, what I call "Fatwood" or "Fat Lighter" is rich in resin and used for fire starting. It usually comes from the stumps of old dead pine trees where the resin continues to flow and accumulate creating a very hard/solid core. In most cases, the stump rots away but the resin core remains. I'm thinking that spruce is loosely in the pine family and am wondering if their stumps produce fatwood. Has anyone had success finding fatwood in Alaska?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Yukon77 View Post
    Under several different names, what I call "Fatwood" or "Fat Lighter" is rich in resin and used for fire starting. It usually comes from the stumps of old dead pine trees where the resin continues to flow and accumulate creating a very hard/solid core. In most cases, the stump rots away but the resin core remains. I'm thinking that spruce is loosely in the pine family and am wondering if their stumps produce fatwood. Has anyone had success finding fatwood in Alaska?
    We called it fat lighter or lighter not down south. I've never seen any in Alaska. LightMyFire brand fire starter sells sticks of it-not a good value. If you're looking for something to keep in your pack, I like cotton balls soaked in vaseline. If you're looking for general fire starter aid, then dryer lint works great but also those fire starter balls made form crushed up sawdust (Fred Meyers sells them in the winter next o their fireplace accessories) are flat out awesome.

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    Member spoiled one's Avatar
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    I have purchased boxes of fat wood at Lowes on Old Seward in years past. Great stuff.
    Spending my kids' inheritance with them, one adventure at a time.

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    Appreciate the replies. However, I am specifically trying to find out if fatwood can be found and harvested in Alaska.

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    Never seen it in S central or the interior and I've cut lots of trees and spent lots of time in the woods. Our spruce aren't nearly as pitchy as many pine trees are, and the stumps rot rather quickly. Buy a waxy fire log if you want something similar.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Yukon77 View Post
    Appreciate the replies. However, I am specifically trying to find out if fatwood can be found and harvested in Alaska.
    I don't think so. I've never seen any. Then again, I've never seen Sasquatch either, but he's out there.

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    Again, thanks for the info. I'm an old fart and have lived in Alaska for a long time and don't ever remember running into fatwood - but then again, I've never looked for it. I have experimented with multiple commercial and native fire starting materials and have no "need" for fatwood, but the question of whether or not it could be found in Alaska came up and intrigued me. Since we're such a big State with diverse trees and growing seasons, I thought I would ask before looking.

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    The closest I have gotten to finding your fatwood up here was in beetle killed spruce normally the two or three headed trees. This stuff is nothing like the lighter pine I have from florida, but it works. I have found a few rounds of hemlock that had pockets of runny pitch that came out when split.

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    Many thanks. I've got a convenient source of beetle killed spruce stumps that I'll give a try. I suspect you are spot on about it being much low quality fatwood than the Florida pine. The original question actually came from a friend who lives in Florida. At least I'll be able to report that I tried

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    Lighter. From pine trees. It's the pine sap that does the work. Most commercially available lighter, fat wood, whatever you will call it, is simply doused with turpentine. Yep, fake lighter, that's the truth. It's abundant here in NC. I bought a 5 gallon bucket of it last year on the side of the road for $20 as I recall. You can find folks selling it on EBay as well. But unless you got pine trees in Alaska, you won't harvest any lighter.


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    I took down a spruce in ...2013 that looked like it had been lightning hit many years before. Several golf ball sized chunks of sap in the burnt wound, about 8 feet worth of the trunk ended up split and stacked for my church youth group to burn outdoors, too sappy to go in my stove.

    I don't need fat wood when I have birch bark.

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    Quote Originally Posted by swmn View Post
    I don't need fat wood when I have birch bark.
    True, that. You don't really need long duration high BTU kindling to ignite Alaska native species fire wood, provided you build a proper fire, with wood that's properly dry.

    Then again, same holds true for east coast hardwood species.
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    Member danattherock's Avatar
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    Properly dry being the key words. That's the thing I like about lighter, it burns long and hot enough to start a fire in less than ideal circumstances. Also good to fly with. I have had several synthetic fire starters removed from my bags by kind TSA folks over the years.
    The two loudest sounds known to man: a gun that goes bang when it is supposed to go click and a gun that goes click when it is supposed to go bang.

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