Has wet weather kept you from enjoying a campfire? If so you might ask, how do I keep my wood dry, or how do I make a fire with wet wood?
Keep your firewood dry by stacking it up off the ground. You can use a few logs with air space between them as a lower course to stack upon. Lay your wood bark side up and expose the log ends to the side of the stack. If you don’t have a building or lean-to shelter then use tarps to keep your wood dry. If you know it is going to rain or be wet for days, cover the entire stack. On dryer sunnier days expose the sides to light and air with just a cover on top.
So how do you make a fire when it is so wet? The key is to find dry wood, create dry wood, and prepare a dry spot to make your fire. Within that wet wood is some dryer wood. Take your ax or hatchet and peel off the wet bark and split away the wet wood which has been exposed to the weather. Also dead branches hanging low and close to the trunk are probably dry. If it snaps quickly when bent with no show of green it is dry dead wood to use. Prepare your fire spot to build up a layer above the wet. Use bark, layer of sticks, cardboard, charred wood charcoal left in the firewood to build up a spot. Gather together your dry fire starter like newspaper, tinder, and kindling. Have your thin splits of wood nearby ready to add once you have your fire started. Build a fire using log cabin or tepee method. Build a nice pile of tinder that is no bigger around than your pinky finger. If you’re getting it off a live tree or bush, pick branches that are close to the trunk and lowest to the ground, as they’re the driest. If there’s a dead tree nearby, break off twigs that aren’t in contact with the ground.
Slightly larger logs may have dry wood inside that you can get out by chipping off the wet surface with a hatchet, but don’t even bother with soggy, rotten wood. Chipping up birch bark will work too, but I personally avoid hacking at live trees. If you’re going to do this, pick one branch to cut and use all of it. Don’t chop at the trunk.
Make a bed for the fire to get started on, such as a piece of cardboard or even an arrangement of branches. It’ll keep the moisture in the ground from ruining everything and provide more stability to build the fire on. A slight wind is good to reach your fire. However if it is windy or drizzly raining then you want to shelter your fire from that wet wind using some planks of wood you have split to make a lean-to to protect the fire. Hopefully you have dry matches such as the ones you previously thought of coating in melted candle wax – scrape the wax off the match head before you strike to light. A small candle or bit of wax can help your fire get started.
Once your fire is started keep adding little bit of kindling and keep your additional kindling near to the fire to help it dry. As you continuously add more wood, stack your wood near the outside of the flames to dry it before you push it on to the fire. Be patient and careful to add small amounts at a time to not smother the fire with larger pieces of moist wood. I’ve been in many a campground where others looked at me as if I had magic or added some volatile agent when all I needed was a little more effort and diligence to make a nice fire.