Sustainability made simple

How to Make a Swedish Fire Log for Camping

Swedish fire log
Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / Wendy-Baars

Knowing how to make a Swedish fire log is the definition of a genuine camping trick. We'll walk you through the process step-by-step, and look at its sustainability.

With long summer evenings and campfire season approaching, it’s definitely worth your time to learn how to make a Swedish fire log for cooking, plus to keep yourself warm and toasty at night. 

A Swedish fire log, often known as a Swedish Torch, or sometimes by our northerly neighbors as a Canadian Candle, is a highly effective campfire for cooking. 

According to legend, Swedish soldiers invented this sort of DIY campfire during the Thirty Years War that decimated Europe in the 17th century. Soldiers were not only fighting foes, but also terrible conditions, which meant they needed to make the most of their available firewood in order to offer light, warmth, and cooking heat in the midst of bitterly cold and depressing conditions. 

Conveniently, this makeshift camping stove only requires one log and may be made even when the ground is wet or covered with snow. What makes it even more remarkable is that this long-lasting, self-feeding fire is relatively simple to make and can burn for hours on end. 

Getting Started With Your Swedish Fire Log

Always exercise caution when lighting dry wood.
Always exercise caution when lighting dry wood.
(Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / Ralphs_Fotos)

Without further ado, here’s a quick step-by-step tutorial on how to make a Swedish fire log. However, before we begin, it is crucial to mention that you will need a hatchet or an axe to cut and prepare your fire wood.

  1. Gather Good Materials – The Swedish Fire Log is heavily reliant on fuel. So look for a flat, dry log and some kindling in the vicinity of your campground. Damp or soggy wood will make your task more difficult than necessary. If you want to construct a Swedish Fire Torch, you’ll need a log that’s quite thick in diameter (at least 15 inches or so). The bigger the diameter, the longer your fire will burn.
  2. Start Chopping – As if you were slicing a birthday cake, cut the wood in slices or wedges using an axe or hatchet (four to six is ideal). Be mindful that it’s best to leave approximately six inches of uncut wood at the bottom of the stump so that the log still sticks together.  If you accidentally cut through the stump, don’t fret. You can use a piece of string, or rope to bind the trunk together.
  3. Dig a Pit Underneath – It’s important that you keep the wedges of wood together while the fire is burning. To make sure they stick together, make a tiny pit or hole a couple of inches deep and place your fire log in it. This acts as a makeshift fire pit and will allow extra support if the wood becomes split or unstable. Don’t fret if the log isn’t symmetrical.
  4. Apply Kindling to OpeningYour fire, like a conventional campfire, will require some fuel to light. Eco-friendly, flammable alternatives to oil or gas include paper, wood shavings, and dry tinder such as sticks, twigs, and kindling. It’s always handy to have additional kindling on hand for when your fire begins to dwindle. Stuff these materials into the cuts, but leave enough space for air to move freely.
  5. Light the Torch – First, light the tinder in the crevices. Kindling on top of the log should fall and catch fire from the flames. Kindling burns and deposits embers in the log. The log should then burn from within. Before the Swedish torch begins going, you may need to feed it kindling from the top. Be patient, and make sure your flame burns steadily.

    Viola! You’ve now got your very own Swedish Fire Log that will burn for the next two to five hours.

    Some further tips that to increase your Swedish Fire Log burning time, are as follows:

    • Beech, oak, ash are the best types of woods to use for your Swedish Fire Log base, as they retain less moisture and burn much better.
    • The taller the log, the longer the fire will burn. The deeper you cut, the longer your fire will burn too because the cuts enable oxygen from the air to fuel the fire.
    • If you find your fire is dwindling, you can blow on it gently to help it along. Although always be sure to do this from a safe distance.
    • Fuel for the fire is supplied by the gaps, which allow air to flow freely, so feel free to cut the inner edges as rough as possible. Falling, burning tinder will ignite the lowest portions of the log quicker as ash and flames fall through it.

    The Perks of Swedish Fire Logs

    Be mindful of the wood you use.
    Be mindful of the wood you use.
    (Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / Morket)

    Aside from its obvious practicality and ease, there are several benefits to making Swedish fire logs when you go camping. Here are a few examples:

    • A fantastic camp stove – The flat surface and centralized heat source of Swedish fire logs make them excellent for resting an iron pan or for roasting food on a stick, as those soldiers of fortune figured out centuries ago. As it can burn for so long, you’ll have plenty of time to cook up your food. They’re also a great way to melt marshmallows if you’re going camping with kids.
    • Saves the day if conditions aren’t ideal – If it has just rained or there is still snow on the ground, it is comforting to know that you can still light a fire to keep warm, even if the conditions aren’t ideal. A Swedish fire log can assist you in starting your fire and generating enough heat to dry out the area around your fire and campground.
    • Inexpensive yet more efficient – Not only are you using less wood, you’ll also save money on your travels. If you’re a seasoned camper, you may familiar with the price of firewood at well-known camping sites, and how it can cost a pretty penny. It’s a simple campfire option that allows you to get more done with less.
    • Easy to control– We all know the climate devastation that unexpected forest fires can bring. By using only one log to start a campfire, the risk of a forest fire is greatly reduced. It is easy to control a Swedish fire log as it is so small and compact, therefore making it a safer alternative.

    Swedish Fire Logs: Are They Sustainable?

    Although burning wood is a carbon-neutral source of energy. There are a few eco-sustainability issues worth considering first.
    Although burning wood is a carbon-neutral source of energy. There are a few eco-sustainability issues worth considering first.
    (Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / Pexels)

    While a traditional campfire has its charms, a Swedish fire log’s usability and efficiency are unmatched by any other option. That being said, how sustainable are they likely to be for the environment? Although burning wood is a carbon-neutral source of energy, there are a few Utopia factors regarding their eco-sustainability that are worth considering first.

    • A chemical-free campfire choice: The fact that Swedish Camp Fires are self-reliant is great for eco-sustainability, as the log burns from the center outward. As a bonus, they don’t require synthetic substances or other flammable sources like oil or gas to ignite. Carbon neutrality is assured because they do not release harmful substances into the atmosphere when burned.
    • Only use local firewood: Ecosystems are delicate, as you may be aware, and there is more to nature than meets the eye. As firewood might harbor tree-killing insects and diseases, only dried wood from the area around your campground should be used while building a Swedish Fire Log. Taking alien wood into a new forest could have unexpected consequences.
    • Correctly disposing of the dead ashes and waste: Once the fire has been extinguished, it is advised to leave a thin layer of ash as bedding: this helps in future burning and protects the ground from damage. However, exercise extreme caution! Even seemingly inert ashes can harbor embers that spread and cause fire damage. You can extinguish a fire pit with water, mud, or sand. The same applies if you start your Swedish torch using a match. 

        Extinguishing your Swedish fire log correctly requires taking the required precautions. People, wildlife, and the entire ecosystem are put at risk if it is done incorrectly. Things can swiftly change, and you can easily be caught off guard, so be cautious out there! Check out our quick guide on how to correctly put out a fire pit to ensure that you’re doing your part for the environment.

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