Emergency Supplies

What Is Fatwood Used For? And Is It Worth It?

You don’t have to be deep in bushcraft to appreciate fatwood. Fatwood knowledge goes a long way to ensuring warmth and light in a worst-case scenario.

We will take a look at what fatwood is used for and why it’s worth having some around.

What is fatwood?

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Fatwood is a valuable resource that has helped humankind survive for ages. Most commonly, it refers to the resin-imbued heartwood that is in pine trees. You may hear it referred to as heart pine.

Fatwood comes from pine stumps which makes felled and fallen trees a go-to source.

What is fatwood used for?

Fatwood is a valued source of fire-making materials if you’ve got some on hand. The natural firestarter is beneficial even in a non-emergency because of specific qualities.

You can use fatwood sticks and heartwood for a variety of reasons.

  • Fire in the woods
  • Fireplace
  • Firepit
  • Grill
  • Torch

Can you eat fatwood?

It’s 100% natural, so sure, if you want to snack on wood, it won’t kill you.

If you’re looking for a fast and easy way to start a cooking fire, then absolutely you can cook your food safely when you use fatwood as a firestarter. It releases zero toxins and chemicals, which also makes your grilled food taste better.

3 Reasons Why Fatwood Is Worth It


Natural Water Repellent

Fatwood, or heartwood, is valuable because it has strong interior tissue making it wind and water-resistant. It means that it will still catch fire even in the rain or snow.

The last thing any hiker or camper wants to do is try to find dry firewood to get a flame going. A few pieces of fatwood go a long way to keeping you warm.

How long does fatwood last?

We have no idea, but we think indefinitely. And a little bit of heartwood can go a long way.

The tree itself can live up to 500 years and takes 100 to 150 years to mature. And the stump never rots because the hardened sap essentially preserves it.

100% Natural

Of course, it’s environmentally safe because it’s natural wood. But you don’t have to be a traditionalist or conservationist to appreciate burning a clean fire source.

Some fire starter materials come with the dangers of chemicals, propellants, and toxins. Burning fatwood not only smells better but also better for your lungs.

What are fat lighter stumps used for?

Not only are fat light stumps used to spark a flame, but they also make great fence posts for the same reason. Waterproof and rugged, it stands up to weather and pesky livestock.

Easy to Catch On Fire

You want an easy solution to survival, whether for fun or for serious. Fatwood provides high resin content, making it a reliably available and highly combustible material.

Oh, and it’s wind and water-resistant, so you aren’t fighting with Mother Nature to light your fire.

What is fatwood soaked in?

When sap hardens on a pine stump, it turns into resin-soaked wood. This process makes fatwood extremely flammable and valuable when building a fire.

Battle of the Firestarters

Fatwood vs. Traditional Kindling


Conventional fire starters are pretty susceptible to moisture. Fatwood has the benefit of hardened sap, which makes it water resistant.

And, if you don’t have a lighter or match on hand, making a fire the hard way is less hard with fatwood.

Fatwood vs Chemical Fire Starters

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The temptation of instant fire is just too much for us to handle sometimes. But fires built with solid-fuel compositions will release toxic chemicals that you, your family, and your pets may have to breathe in.

Fatwood has a natural fragrance and is entirely non-toxic (though not scented like candles).

Can I buy fatwood?

If processing fatwood isn’t your thing, you can find all sorts of fire starter kits out there. It’s split for you and ready to burn when you receive it.

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You may have a few pine stumps on your property. There are stump log processing companies that will take care of the harvesting for you for a price.

Fatwood vs Newspaper

100% there is a joke in this, but honestly, lighting fires with an old newspaper is not practical or safe. Burning a newspaper produces a dumb amount of ash, dust particles, and poofs out of existence awfully quickly.

Fatwood burns hotter, better, and far far slower than newspaper. And, the newspaper debris isn’t coating your furniture or lungs.

Fatwood vs Birch 

Birch is 100% natural and safe, and easy to burn. However, a lot of birch bark out there has been illegally harvested from live trees. 

Fatwood comes from stumps of trees that’s already been cut down or fallen. 

Fatwood vs Magnesium vs Traditional Flint

We watch survivalists, and competition contestants use flint or magnesium blocks to get quick access to a fire. But, in a real emergency, it takes time and much-needed energy sometimes to get it to strike just right.

Striking magnesium takes some level of skill, too. It burns hot because it is a metal and is almost impossible to douse with water.

FAQs about Fatwood

What kind of tree does fatwood come from?

Heartwood comes from primarily pine stumps. You most commonly can find fatwood in places that have been heavily logged. Felled and fallen pine trees are a good source, too.

What makes fatwood burn so well?

The sap hardens on pine stumps which produce resin. Resin is highly flammable and water and windproof.

Is fatwood toxic?

Fatwood is a non-toxic firestarter that you can use in your home fireplace or on your next camping trip.

How long does it take fatwood to form?

Fatwood is valuable because of how long it takes to form. It takes upward of 10 years for a pine tree stump to develop resin from the hardening sap. 

Pine stumps don’t rot, which means the fatwood is available for use whenever someone can harvest it.

Is fatwood fireplace safe?

Using fatwood in your fireplace is safe, clean, and has an endless shelf life. And, tucking a little extra into your emergency go bag is never a bad idea.

By AlwaysReadyHQ Team

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Location: Atlanta, GA, USA

The AlwaysReadyHQ Team is made up of writers and editors with experience ranging from emergency paramedics to former FEMA policy writers to natural disaster reporters.

Our goal is to provide clear, concise, organized, realistic, and actionable information to help you and your family feel comfortable and ready for anything. Less scared and more prepared.

We only source from authoritative sources such as government agencies and industry associations to bring reliable information to directly to you.

Andrew Riley - Contributing Editor

Andrew grew up in a country known for earthquakes, volcanoes, and typhoons. But despite the chaos and destruction of natural disasters, he remembers the resilience and readiness of neighbors, despite a lack of official government aid. He hopes that his team of experienced writers bring a bit of that to all of AlwaysReadyHQ's readers.