Even if you're not a smoker, a lighter is an extremely valuable...
In the past, we've discussed the merits of the Swedish torch, a carefully-cut section of log that serves as a long-burning and self-sustaining source of fire. It was allegedly developed by Swedish soldiers who were trying to find a way to stay warm during cold winters without constantly feeding an inefficient open campfire. Then again, we've also heard the technique attributed to the Finnish and even the Canadians.
Regardless of who invented the technique, the so-called Swedish torch uses a section cut from a large log and stood on end, with 4 to 6 deep vertical grooves cut into it. When tinder is shoved into these grooves and ignited, it lights the log itself, and oxygen flows in through the grooves to keep the fire burning. This results in a compact and efficient fire that can burn for hours without additional wood, and also doubles as a flat cooktop.
A Swedish torch is often made by cutting a log with a chainsaw, or by splitting a log with an ax and binding the pieces loosely together again. However, both these options require substantial amounts of prep and manual labor. If you want to check the effectiveness of a Swedish torch without firing up a chainsaw or swinging an ax, a company called Light ‘n Go offers a Bonfire Log that's essentially a ready-made off-the-shelf version — it even comes with a rope carry handle.
We've seen the Light ‘n Go bonfire logs at hardware stores such as Home Depot for about $13. It might be worth picking one up if you've never tried making a Swedish torch and want to see how you like using one. Here's an excerpt from a Bonfire Log review by Apocalypse Equipped:
“Lacking accelerants, the all-natural kiln-dried birch fire-log lights with one match. It burns 2.5 hours, produces a large halo, a clean flame, and a charming aroma… you could make your own easily enough if you have dried seasoned logs and you're a deft hand with a chainsaw. However, if the plunges or cross cuts seem a little too much, a similar effect could be achieved by simply splitting the log with an axe four ways, and binding it with a length of wire.” Read the rest of the review here.
Here's a video that shows this off-the-shelf fire log in action: