When you want a slow-burning fire that you don’t have to keep tending, and also use as a burner to heat up a meal, the Swedish Log is the way to go. This system was developed by the Swedish Army to save fuel and is still used today. You can often find logs cut from birch wood at grocery stores, but they can be short and expensive. If you have a chain saw, you can cut pie-shaped wedges two-thirds of the way down a solid whole log and make one that way. I didn’t have access to whole logs or chain saws, but wanted to try this out, so I made my own version.
- Set of pie-shaped logs that can be reassembled into a full log shape. The logs don’t have to be the same exact height, but if you want to cook on them, get the height as close as possible to the other logs.
- Good pair of leather work gloves to protect your hands and help your grip
- Eighteen gauge wire to secure the logs in two places when reassembling
- Good pair of pliers and wire cutters to cut and twist the wire in place
- Sixteen penny nails and a hammer (if you want to make a pot holder)
Steps for Making a Swedish Log
1. Cut two lengths of heavy gauge wire, which will be used to secure the top and bottom of the log. The wire holds up remarkably well to the heat of the fire.
2. Form your pie-shaped wood pieces into an upright circle. You want them to fit tightly, but with a bit of airflow between the logs to allow the fire to be fed oxegyn.
3. This is usually a two-person project at this point. One person should hold the logs, while another wraps and twists the wire securely around the bottom and top of the log. Get the twist as tight as you can to the wood.
4. Use the needlenose end of the pliers to wrap the sharp cut ends of the wire into circles to keep from being poked while moving it to the fire pit or retrieving the wire afterwards.
5. If you want to cook on your Swedish Log, sixteen penny nails hammered into the top will give you some space to heat up a pan, but not smother your fire. It takes a long time for the flames to start compromising the nails but always keep an eye on it.
6. Stuff the center hole with combustible materials. You can pour a bit of rubbing alcohol down the center to keep it burning long enough for the inside walls of the logs to catch fire.
7. Enjoy! Even if you don’t plan to cook on your Swedish log, you can simply enjoy a fire that doesn’t need constant tending. My log burned for 90 minutes before I tumbled it into the fire pit and added new wood to the top. It’s a fuss-free fire that kicks off lots of heat.
- If the logs are too tight in the center, take a camp knife and cut away the point of the pie wedge, creating room for kindling to start it.
- If the fire is having trouble catching, grab your needle nose pliers and pry open a side to let air in. You can wedge a stick or rock in there to keep it open. The extra airflow should get the fire going quickly.
- After the fire has cooled, be sure to fish out the remains of the nails and wire from the fire pit and throw them in a garbage can.
More Girl Camper
The above article was written by Janine Pettit and was first featured in the winter issue of Girl Camper Magazine.
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