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A Swedish Fire Log – also referred to as a Swedish Torch or Canadian Candle – is a highly efficient campfire for cooking. First developed by the Swedish army during the Thirty Years War, this type of campfire requires just a single log and can be made even when the ground is wet or covered in snow. It is also a quick and easy way to cook food while camping, especially if you have limited wood to burn.
The most important step in building a Swedish Fire Log is to use dry wood. Freshly cut logs are filled with moisture, which can make them very difficult to burn. Even when properly done, a Swedish Fire Log made using wet wood is going to be a nonstarter, so look for as dry of wood as possible.
There are a couple of different methods of making a Swedish Fire Log depending on the tools you have available. Here are your options:
Chainsaw a Whole Log
- Find or cut a suitably sized log with flat, level ends on either side.
- With the log standing on its end, use a chainsaw to cut slits into the wood. Depending on the width of the log, this can be done in either quarters or sixths. [Note: Most chainsaws have crosscut blades, so cutting along the grain might be difficult. Use the bucking spikes as a fulcrum to get better leverage]
- Do not cut all the way through. Leave few inches at the bottom, so the log remains a single unit so it is easier to transport and will maintain its structure while burning.
Axe a Whole Log
- Find or cut a suitably sized log with flat, level ends of either side.
- With a splitting axe or maul, split the log into quarters or sixths. [Note: It’s okay if your splits aren’t perfectly symmetrical.
- Reassemble the log and keep the pieces together by using a metal coat hanger or bailing wire.
Assemble Pre-Split Wood
- Find pre-split wood of roughly equal height with flat, level ends. Thankfully, most pre-split firewood is cut to uniform lengths.
- Arrange the split wood on its end, so it forms the appearance of a log, bark side facing out.
- Use a metal coat hanger or bailing wire to secure wood at its base.
Now that you have your fire log ready, here’s how you get it started.
- Gather kindling (dry sticks, fatwood) & tinder (birch bark, dry grass, paper).
- Insert kindling in the center of the log. Don’t over stuff or put kindling towards the outside of the log, as this will restrict airflow. A nice small bunch in the middle is all you need.
- Place tinder and a small amount of kindling on top of the log in the center. Light the tinder.
The embers from this small fire on top of the log should fall down inside and catch the other pieces of kindling. After a short period of time, the logs themselves will catch fire and the fire will continue.