Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Modified Swedish Torch

I have been fascinated by the idea of the Swedish torch for some time, but the found it unpractical since the cuts in the logs were often done with a chainsaw.  I should have prefaced that comment by saying when I first came across information on the Swedish torch the ones I saw were made with a single block of wood using a chainsaw to make the air channels.  Then I saw a blog post (which of course I cannot find now) that showed making a Swedish torch out of small diameter limbs lashed together.  Brilliant I thought!

That was about 2 years ago...

I have been meaning to experiment with the idea, but I just did not make the time.  That happens to me.  A lot.  That is something I need to work on, but I will blog about that elsewhere.  I find the best way to force myself to learn a new skill, or hone an existing one is to teach a class on it.  Then I have others depending on me, and here are the results.

Batoning the cedar log.
Photo by R.T.

Lashing split-wood together with jute twine.
Photo by R.T.

Inserting River birch (Betula nigra) bark as tinder.
Photo by R.T.

Lighting with my ferro rod
Photo by R.T.
Fire started.
Photo by R.T.
Billy pot on the torch.
Photo by R.T.

The advantage of the Swedish torch in wet, or snowy conditions is that it gets your fire up out of the moisture and it creates a ready made pot stand so long as the wood you are using is roughly the same length.

The only thing I will change the next time is I will use a light gauge wire, like florists wire, to wrap the bundle in.  The jute burned through (which did not surprise me) but how rapidly the fire spread into the interior of the torch did surprise me.  I can definitely see some huge advantages to the Swedish torch in non-wet conditions to, such as greatly limiting fire scars.

Have you ever made one of these?  What are your thoughts?


Perkunas said...

If you refer to FINNISH "jätkänkynttilä" (translates in to....jack´s...or lumberjacks candle), i hope you change it into FINNISH as its from here, not frowm Swedes, as is the Raappanan Tuli (raappana´s fire), which is the log splitted basically in to two halves.

I get annoyed when stuff turns Swedish when its roots are in Finland :).

Johnnyburn said...

Looks neat!

In a pinch, I suppose you could dig a "post hole", and put the sticks in. With the dirt bottom, it might be easier to level the top by pounding the tops of the sticks so that they are even. So: maybe jute-binding the bundle, then putting it in a hole and tamping dirt around it. Of course, I am surprised that you didn't have some wire stowed away for squirrel traps anyway.

Casey said...

Have not tried this, but have used something similar and less effective. Just a cross section of an old log that I used to split wood on. The many notches made by the axe held the tinder and then burned fairly well for awhile. But this looks much better - thanks for posting this.

Bill Giles said...

I haven't tried this, either with a single log or lashed together. I agree that it's a bit cumbersome to have to pack a chain saw to make one. It's an interesting idea, but I live in the land of abundant hardwood and don't have access to much fatwood. I do have a dead spruce hat I will need to cut down this spring and I might try this technique with it.

OldFatGuy said...

Thanks for showing us this, Chris. It worked quite well. I also tried this last weekend with a bundle of sticks tied together with raspberry vines. This did well for just something thrown together quickly.

Anonymous said...

And thank you for taking the pictures!

Deus Ex Machina said...

Fantastic! I have tried the chainsaw into the log method. It did not work well for me. I think I'll give this a shot.

Anonymous said...


Bushcraft Minas:


Tater said...

I like this idea. I'm looking forward to trying it out.


reedo breezo said...

I have not tried this version. However, I have instead of using a chainsaw, simple split the log into four somewhat equal pieces, lashing it only at the bottom at working it the same from there. Of course you want to use a saw to make your pieces nice and flat. I see a definite use for the way you did it. Need less equipment, basically can be done with a knife and bahco saw, maybe even knife alone. So if your travelling lite, it's still viable.