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A Swedish fire log is a quick and easy way to make a fire, save wood, and cook a meal.
It was first developed by the Swedish Army. A Swedish log is a great way to keep wood up off the damp ground, conserve resources (save fuel), extend the burn time of the fuel you have on hand, and they are an efficient way to cook a meal.
Depending on the size of the log you use and the way you cut it, one log can burn for a minimum of 2 hours and a maximum of 4-6.
We add extra fuel to ours so this really isn’t an accurate guess. It is hard to keep your hands away from a fire and not add extra sticks!
But I will tell you that we cut a smaller sized log and burned it for over 2 hours. There was enough wood to burn for another hour, at least, but we were packing up for the day.
Why Use a Whole Log for the Fire?
It may seem a little odd to set up and burn a one log fire. What happened to hauling all the wood? Finding all the smaller branches to help get the wood hot and ignite the larger pieces.
Using a Swedish torch, also known as a Canadian candle, will help you save fuel.
They can be made ahead of time and taken with you on your next set of adventures. One or two logs are all thats needed for a day of ice fishing on the frozen lake.
You don’t need a stack of wood to make dinner. Not only will you conserve the energy that the wood provides as heat, you will be conserving your own energy by not having to cut or gather as much fuel for the fire.
When you are trying to build a fire and the ground is cold or wet, getting that first precious flame can be hard.
Downright frustrating at times!
The Swedish torch log was thought up to help with this issue. It provides a steady warmth, enough light for the evening stories, and it holds itself up off of the wet, cold ground. The only part touching is the bottom of the log. The design allows the fire to get plenty of airflow and stay burning despite the weather.
A one log fire is very easy to cook on. The design lends itself to a natural platform to place a cook pot on. (We cooked campfire nachos in the Dutch Oven on this log.)
Its flat surface works great as it is.
There are also specific types of grills that you can use that remain rigid and flat as the wood burns away from the top and becomes deformed.
Check out this hot idea from our neighbors to the north who use it on their Canadian Candles.
How to Build a Swedish Torch
Are you ready to learn how to make a one log fire? Before you get started, there are a few things you need to gather together.
The first (obviously) is a log. Any size will do. The larger it is, the longer it will burn.
We used a log that was about 18 inches tall and about 8 or 9 inches in diameter. It lasted two hours and probably had another hour in it when we extinguished it and left.
Other supplies that you will need to make a Swedish log:
- dry tinder
- smaller kindling (some of this you can gather from your log as you prep it)
- a way to start the fire (matches, fire steel, lighter, etc.)
- wire, jute, baling twine
- an ax or chainsaw
TIP: You don’t need to saw or chop wood to make a Swedish fire torch. Smaller logs or pieces of pre-cut wood can be bundled and burned in a similar way.
Cutting it with an Ax:
Choose your log. And then cut it into quarters. The pieces will be reassembled, it could be beneficial to number the pieces with a piece of charcoal, a pencil or some form of marking system.
Use your ax to shave off the inside edge of each quarter. About 3/4 of the way down. You will use these shavings as part of your fire starting kit.
Next, stand your wood pieces on end and put them in order. Use your wire or jute to tie the pieces together. Position the wire or string towards the bottom of your bundle. About a quarter or third of the way up.
Don’t make the wrap so tight that you can’t get a few wedges down the cracks. You need some space for air flow.
Take two sticks or a few of the chips that you created when you were hollowing out the center of the log and force them into the cracks. This keeps the sticks apart to create an air flue as well as a platform to create your starter fire on (so it doesn’t all fall into the center of your log before you can light it).
Place some tinder inside the center of your fire log. Start your fire and start adding some small pieces of kindling.
Once the fire has caught on the log and started to burn into the center, you won’t need to add any more bits of kindling or fuel.
One Log Fire with a Chainsaw:
A log candle fire with a chainsaw is just a little different. The wood is not split all the way through.
Using the chainsaw, cut an X or + into the log. You will want to cut about 3/4 of the way down the log. Larger logs can use more cuts (think cutting a pie).
There is also a method called the “plunge cut” where you hollow out the center of the log with the chainsaw and cut a flue or vent into the side of the log so air can flow up through the center.
Try different types of fire logs to see which one you like the best.
The process of starting the fire on top and letting it burn down through the center is the same. The difference with a chainsaw cut is you don’t need to wire the firewood together.
One version is probably better for car camping or camping in an area that you can keep your tools in a vehicle nearby. The split log is a better method if you have hiked into an area to camp with only an ax or hand saw (which you can also use to create a Swedish fire log).
Building a log fire torch out of smaller rounds or pre-cut firewood is also possible. Gather your wood pieces and choose one that is about 3/4 smaller than all your other pieces.
Place the smallest piece of wood in the center of the log bundle and then wrap or tie the pieces together like you would after splitting a log with the ax. The top might not be as even for cooking on, but the idea of energy conservation and keeping the wood off the went ground is the same.
Another great application for a Swedish log is when you are ice fishing. No need to worry about the fire burning into the ice and extinguishing itself. A ground cover to build a fire on isn’t necessary. Just take a log or two and you will be set for the whole day!
What is the Best Tool for Building the Torch?
The tool you choose to build your fire torch depends on what you have available, where you are when you need to build the fire, and the type of wood you need to cut.
- Multi-purpose axe is a single-bit axe in traditional style
- Head is attached to the hickory shaft using both a wooden and Steel Wedge to secure fastening
- Versatile axe used for tree felling, wood chopping, and other jobs
- The long handle provides power to the cut
- Includes a leather edge cover
- Compact, casual-use chainsaw that’s designed to start up easily
- Low kickback safety features, including built-in safety break, reduces risk during operation
- Lightweight chainsaw is compact and maneuverable with excellent ergonomic comfort features
- Folding Bow Saw – black annodized aluminum frame, yellow handle, all purpose blade
- One premium “Crazy Horse” leather sheath with extra blade compartment & leather shoulder strap
- One extra 21 inch Aggressive “Sidney Rancher” blade
A chainsaw or an ax is the best for large dead trees. If you have the resources available to cut a few larger rounds, using a chainsaw is the fastest and most efficient.
A small folding pack saw can be used if you are using small diameter wood to form a bundle that will be wired together. This works great if you are in the backcountry or have hiked into your camping spot. Wood that has fallen but is not wet and rotten on the ground is ideal for a bundled fire log.
Cooking on a Whole Fire Log
Want to roast marshmallows? You can still do that with a one log fire! Boil a cup of water? Easy. Just place your metal container over the cracks of the log and the heat will boil your water just like it would on a standard open fire. Maybe even a little better.
A log that has been cut by a chainsaw of that has a flat surface is ideal for cooking on. Think of it as a stove burner, Mother Nature style, out in the wilds. All that heat is directed up toward the top of the log. Where you have placed your cooking pot or Dutch Oven.
No need to wipe off ashes and coal. Building a tri-pod to hold your cook wear isn’t necessary. You don’t even need a fire ring or rocks to support your cook pots. Just a log.
Cooking on a Swedish fire log is also a little easier because the heat is contained in the log. When you lean in to check on dinner, the heat doesn’t blast up into your face. You don’t feel like you will be cooking the flesh off your hand and arm when you stir the stew.
The heat is consistent. No need to turn the pot because only one side is heating up.
The prep time for a Swedish torch is similar to the time it would take you to gather up all the tinder, kindling, and wood that you need to cook a meal.
The time saving comes in the fire tending after it is started. Burning through less wood means more time to focus on other areas of your camp. Not just gathering wood and stoking the fire!