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Author Topic: "Fatwood" Fire Starters--what kinda wood are they?  (Read 15369 times)

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Offline Paschale

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"Fatwood" Fire Starters--what kinda wood are they?
« on: November 29, 2005, 11:51:15 PM »
This is the second year that I've used "Fatwood" Fire Starters from Menard's.  They work great, but I'm really curious what kind of wood they are.  They state on the package that it's a naturally highly resinous tree.  It seems to me it has to be some sort of an exotic/tropical tree, because I can't think of a tree in North America that is anything like this (of course I don't know much!).  Anybody know what species these puppies are made from?  I'd hate to see a forest fire of those!  Part of me wonders if they soak them in something before packaging, but they state that it's 100% natural.  I guess if you soaked them in lard, that'd be 100% natural too, and they'd light up real nice.  ;)

Does someone know what that wood is most likely to be?
Y'all can pronounce it "puh-SKOLLY"

Offline Radar67

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Re: "Fatwood" Fire Starters--what kinda wood are they?
« Reply #1 on: November 29, 2005, 11:55:04 PM »
Down South, we call it fat lighter. It is basically a pine stump. The resins rise and set in the wood during the decay process. Not all pines produce lighter.

Help me out guys, I know what it is, but not all the fine details. I hope this is close.

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Offline woodbowl

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Re: "Fatwood" Fire Starters--what kinda wood are they?
« Reply #2 on: November 30, 2005, 01:04:45 AM »
Your right Stew ................ fat lighter, fat lighterd, lighter knot.  There is a little bit up north in injured pine trees. I've heard northerners call it pitch wood.
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Offline Paul_H

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Re: "Fatwood" Fire Starters--what kinda wood are they?
« Reply #3 on: November 30, 2005, 01:23:09 AM »
We get pitchy Douglas fir that we use,same as fat lighter but we call it nookie wood.
It's really common in an old wind shook tree.
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Offline Don K

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Re: "Fatwood" Fire Starters--what kinda wood are they?
« Reply #4 on: November 30, 2005, 03:05:30 AM »
Most of the fat lighter found down in the south comes from old growth longleaf pines. These trees grew very slow therefore having a tight ring pattern. Extremely heavy dense logs with a large amount of resin in the tree. These trees would be slashed and the resin collected to make turpentine.

In the area of Alabama where I live a generations owned timber company bought up large amounts of land in 3 or 4 counties in the late 1800's and early 1900's. They started extensively cutting these old growth trees for lumber and from what I've been told alot was shipped up north for building materials. They finished cutting all the mature timber in the 1930's and then the mill burnt down. Huummmnnn? Lot of speculation there in local folklore. Anyway they are still in business producing SYP lumber and also plywood.  I sawed a couple of pines for flooring on a shed I'm building that were victims of Hurricane Ivan last year and they had alot of litered wood in them. Very heavy and hard to plane due to amount of resin. Makes beautiful floors though. My father was looking at it and we were talking about the density of this tree, between 80 to 100 rings on a 22" sixteen foot log, and he mentioned that he had spoken with a forester from this company and he told my father that in ten years they will have harvested all their mature second growth trees. They are now doing a lot of thinning on pine plantations. I'm afraid one day all you will be able to buy are plastic 2 X 4's or ones made from sawdust.

Anyway to stop rambling, these trees due to high resin content and very little sapwood when they would die due to natural causes or the trimmings left from logging would not rot, but dry i guess you could say into what we call fat litard. There are whole houses built of this stuff that is very old and all the lumber has turned into this stuff. You are right about its burning properties, It will burn fiercely and prodce heavy black smoke. If one of these old houses catch on fire they can hardly be saved. I start all my fires with it and where you have to buy it, I have collected 3 or 4 truck loads of this stuff over the years. I have a huge pile of it. It also has a wonderful smell to me. I can't help but take a sniff when I split some.  I wish I had a digital camera so I could post some pics for you. Do a search on here. There have been several discussions on it. Hope I haven't rambled too much and if you have anymore questions, post back and maybe I can help answer them. Funny when I was thinking of a login name I almost used Litard Hound because of my love to collect this stuff from the woods. Who knows I may change it yet.  :D :D :)
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Offline Frank_Pender

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Re: "Fatwood" Fire Starters--what kinda wood are they?
« Reply #5 on: December 04, 2005, 11:13:43 AM »
Some folks out here, Paul, us to call it "trading stock". ;D
Frank Pender

Offline Paschale

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Re: "Fatwood" Fire Starters--what kinda wood are they?
« Reply #6 on: December 04, 2005, 11:30:56 AM »
Thanks for the info guys--I don't know those were domestic products.  Glad to hear they're homegrown!  And man...they work GREAT!
Y'all can pronounce it "puh-SKOLLY"

Offline DanG

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Re: "Fatwood" Fire Starters--what kinda wood are they?
« Reply #7 on: December 04, 2005, 12:36:06 PM »
There's a huge lightered snag on my neighor's place, right by the road.  I'll see if I can get  a pic, along with some more average lightered stumps.  It's pretty common stuff around here.
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Offline Pullinchips

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Re: "Fatwood" Fire Starters--what kinda wood are they?
« Reply #8 on: December 08, 2005, 03:03:08 PM »
Yep, a gen-u-ine southern product. Like said most comes from longleaf pine stumps logs.  The high resin content of the longleaf collects in the stump and is highly flamible when dried out.  Whole trees can turn to lighter when the tree dies the resin collects in the wood and sap will fall or collect in the lower stump making it the best part.  this resin is highly rot resistand so you can still se lighter sumps/ logs / cat faces that were cut 20+ years ago.  The sapwood rots leaving the good pine smell don was talking about. I to love the smell of it, a think all forester from the south do.  You can get it from shortleaf,virginia and loblolly if it is in a slow grown tree, but not near as big of a quantitly
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Offline Paschale

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Re: "Fatwood" Fire Starters--what kinda wood are they?
« Reply #9 on: December 08, 2005, 10:42:14 PM »
I find it interesting that there is such a high resin content in these old stumps.  The fatwood starters I have honestly look like they were dipped in something, and I think it's very cool that it's all natural.  What I wonder--what purpose does that resin have in a live tree?  Is the resin distributed evenly throughout the living tree, or does the resin result from natural degrading of a tree after it has been cut?   ??? :P  I find it all pretty fascinating... 
Y'all can pronounce it "puh-SKOLLY"

Offline thiggy

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Re: "Fatwood" Fire Starters--what kinda wood are they?
« Reply #10 on: December 09, 2005, 12:19:14 AM »
It is not resin, but pine rosin.
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Offline Paschale

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Re: "Fatwood" Fire Starters--what kinda wood are they?
« Reply #11 on: December 09, 2005, 12:45:03 AM »
resin and rosin are interchangeable...you say Tomatoes, I say Tomahtoes, you say rosin, I say resin, you say goat meat, I say TATERS!    ;)
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Offline Don K

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Re: "Fatwood" Fire Starters--what kinda wood are they?
« Reply #12 on: December 09, 2005, 01:58:59 AM »
Something else that burns fiercely is the dry pine cones off our pine trees especially longleaf cones. I guess they even have a small amount of    resin,rosin   in them too. They just lack staying power. to restate a phrase I heard from a fella once::::  They are just a flash in the pan. :D :D :D    :) :)
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Offline Pullinchips

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Re: "Fatwood" Fire Starters--what kinda wood are they?
« Reply #13 on: December 09, 2005, 10:27:08 PM »
The high resin content is a defense system of the tree as well as other things.  The resing will "pitch" out beetles like southern pine beetle when they attack.  A Longleaf pine is very resistant to pine beetle because of this high resin content.  It also serves to protect the tree from wounds.  The wound will flow heavily and cover the impacted area and harden over forming a protective coating.  Longleaf evolved in a fire dependant ecosystem, and this high resin content will actually put out a fire that is burning an old wound on a trunk. The resin will burn (in the liquid state) but it will actually flow out of the tree so quick(you can see it flowing) that  the fire may burn out before extensive damage is done to the tree.  This high resin content is why that it was chosen as a tree of choice (along with slash pine) as a tree to run naval stores operations on. Navel sores  is gum turpintine/ gum rosin/ turpintining etc.  The collected the resin and then boiled it down to make turpintine and other things. 

As mentioned pine cones burn well because of their resin content but not as long because they are not as dense as the heartwood or a longleaf (verydense) do not know the SG of hand if any body has their wood properties book handy.  But if i dont have lighter which i dont at this time i will use several loblolly cones, they bun very intensively for about 30 sec. no longleafs around my house now, as i am back at school and do not have 50000 acres of longleaf woods at my disposal.

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Offline Paschale

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Re: "Fatwood" Fire Starters--what kinda wood are they?
« Reply #14 on: December 09, 2005, 10:38:55 PM »
Hey there Nate, looks like you're gonna be useful around here.   ;D

Thanks for the information...looks like you got a good education at Clemson--congrats on being in "the real world" for a year.  Do you have a job as a forester currently?
Y'all can pronounce it "puh-SKOLLY"

Offline Pullinchips

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Re: "Fatwood" Fire Starters--what kinda wood are they?
« Reply #15 on: December 09, 2005, 11:04:14 PM »
i did the real worl thing for a little over a year then decided to go back to school. I'm currently getting my Masters in forestry. So no, i am a full time grad assistant though(i could make more at wal-mart than i make now!).
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Offline Tom

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Re: "Fatwood" Fire Starters--what kinda wood are they?
« Reply #16 on: December 10, 2005, 01:55:42 PM »
You may make more at Wall-Mart  but you'll be worth more to us and the world doing what you are doing.  :)
We need some level headed "real world" foresters.  You guys need to bunch up and holler now and again so  that we can keep track of you. :D
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Offline hillbilly

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Re: "Fatwood" Fire Starters--what kinda wood are they?
« Reply #17 on: December 10, 2005, 05:04:58 PM »
                  In these parts every one just calls them pine knots and pine stumps ,gotta love that smell my wife thinks it is as handy as apocket on a shirt for starting a fire ,I could proubably fill a fleet of semis w/all the stumps and snags that lay around this part of the country  over the years people have picked up alot of the easy to get ones along the roads,.
Ihave even found whole complete trees that had been cut down and cut into log length ,know telling who old they were the area didnt have any roads that were drivable ,and the timber around them was old growth oak the conservation said it was second growth timber 80plus years. so I imagine that the pine was cut somwhere around the same time that the first stand of timber was.
HILLBILLY

Offline DanG

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Re: "Fatwood" Fire Starters--what kinda wood are they?
« Reply #18 on: December 11, 2005, 12:07:34 AM »
As promised, here are some pics of a couple of lightered snags around here.  This first one has some real stories to tell.  I don't know how long it has been deceased, but it hasn't changed much in the 12 years I've been here, except for a few missing chunks around the bottom where the treasure hunters have taken a toll.  The base is well over 24 inches across.  I'm not sure how to figure the diameter of a triangle, though. :D :D


This is a shot of the whole thing.




Here's what remains of the butt.  Note the ax and chainsaw marks.  The 6x6 fence wire gives a bit of perspective for size.  I find the twisted grain pattern interesting, too.  I wonder what the wood woulda looked like, if you could get it to dry flat. ???




There is an interesting formation on what is left of a branch up at the top.  All the sap wood is long since gone, but I wonder what this branch might have looked like.  It is about 45-50 feet up.




Here's another shot of the same branch. It is a little clearer, but the tree in the background makes it harder to see.



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Offline Furby

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Re: "Fatwood" Fire Starters--what kinda wood are they?
« Reply #19 on: December 11, 2005, 12:16:44 AM »
Ah yes, the vertical piece would be the outer edge of the tree. For some reason this piece didn't rot with the rest of the sap wood.
You can get an idea how big around that tree really was based on that one branch.
When you hike in the dunes you find trees like that all the time. They aren't lightered I don't think, but look the same.

Years ago I found and hauled home (it was in a neighbors woods) a hollow log about 36" in dia.
There was a couple inches of wood around the outside left, but it was really punky(didn't find that out until the log thawed out ::) ).
The cool part was looking through the center of the log at all the reamaining knots that were sticking inward.
 ;D


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