Camp Fire Wood

Some Manitoba provincial parks like William Lake have free firewood (in piles outside), and some like Birds Hill have firewood for sale ($8 this summer for a bundle of dry, covered wood). Some parks like Stephenfield have firewood for sale just outside the park.

This last summer I stayed at Pickerel Point Campground which is on Madge Lake in the Saskatchewan provincial park called Duck Mountain. The firewood was free, but was very green and was piled in heaps exposed to mud on the bottom and rain.

So what makes good firewood?

  • Clean of dirt and mud.
  • No or very little bark.
  • Old cuts so that the sap dries out. Preferably stored dry for a year.
  • Dry rotten wood burns quickly.
  • Small pieces.
  • No leaves, grass, or twigs.

Using a hatchet, you can remove thick bark and make cuts in some dryer wood. Using an axe you can cut up wood that is more wet, or larger. Other options include mechanical splitting devices (hand, pneumatic, electric or gas powered), a wedge and mallet/hammer…

Remember more air gaps in upper surface area (e.g. small pieces) means more oxygen for combustion, and more upper surface area means less ash and more fuel available to burn. This also means arrangement of small pieces is important. It also means larger, pieces burn slower which can be an advantage for longer fires.

NASA recently studied fire in space aboard the International Space Station (ISS) and since there’s no upper side to fuel, ended up with interesting results. I suspect liquid fuel benefits from dispersion of burned fuel if the burned fuel is less dense. No upper side also makes it harder to extinguish flames as fuel needs to be covered from all sides in an even form so that it doesn’t cause propulsion (think rockets, and newton’s laws of motion). This is however getting a bit off topic.
More information on NASA’s fire studies at: http://www.space.com/13766-international-space-station-flex-fire-research.html and http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/FLEX-2.html and other places.

Drew Daniels

Comments are closed.