Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Carving Fat Lighter Flowers for Firestarting Kits

This evening I was part of a Boy Scout council roundtable meeting and I usually bring something hand-carved to be used as door prizes. Last weekend I made up about 5 fire starting kits for tonight's meeting which were quite popular as door prizes.

Gathering fat lighter is one of my favorite pass times while on my long walks in the woods. Fat lighter is the congealing of the sap in pine trees usually found in the stumps of decaying trees. This orange colored concentration of pine sap burns better than gasoline and is the perfect naturally found fire-starter.
Carving these small fat-lighter "flowers" is a lot of fun and it's something that you get much better at the more you do it. The wonderful aromatic smell is also alluring as you carve these little fire torches as the sap smells akin to a very strong pine aroma and you might detect a hint of turpentine smell since this same sap is harvested in the southeast for making it.

I just hold a small stick of sap wood and turn it with my fingers while pushing the shavings forward and the "flower" will gradually bloom right before your eyes. In Boy Scouts these little fire starting torches are called "fuzz-sticks" and every 2nd Class Scout learns to make them as part of their fire building requirements.

To make my little fire-starting kits I use a small snack-sized zip lock type plastic baggie. On the bottom I put several sticks of fat-lighter kindling, then 4 or 5 fuzz sticks followed by a small bundle of tinder made from the inner bark of tulip poplar trees.

This makes a nifty little gift to give away to some of your outdoor friends and I guarantee you that they'll love it. Tonight at the Scout meeting they were the first items to be taken by the folks who had the winning numbers. I guess that I've done my good turn for today. :)


  1. dave , what a neat idea, i enjoy reading your outdoor projects , and the wonderful work you do for the boy scouts, keep up the good work, arleen

  2. Thanks for the encouraging comments Arleen and glad that you're enjoying the blog. Your own videos have also been a wonderful contribution to the carving community that I also enjoy! Thanks again.