Not all wood that you come across in the wilderness is the same or will offer the same benefits. Green wet wood is no good for starting fires, and rotten wood does not have the strength you will need to build most shelters. Developing an eye, and touch, that is sensitive to the differences in wood will help you get the most out of the resources provided to you in the wilderness. One wood that you should familiarize yourself with is punkwood.
What is Punkwood?
Punk is wood that is in a specific state of decomposition. It has become lighter and softer, but not so soft that it crumbles when squeezed or manipulated with bare hands. Smaller pieces of punk will give slightly when squeezed, like a sponge, but they should remain intact.
How to use Punk
Punk wood is light because there is much more air per cubic inch than wood that is less decomposed. If punk is dry, its light airy composition makes it great for tinder. It can easily catch a spark or flame, and will hold an ember. If you have a limited supply of matches or lighter fluid with you it would be a good idea to locate some punk prior to attempting to start a fire. Because of its lightweight you can easily carry plenty back to your camp and make sure that your fire has every chance you can give it to start.
You can also use punk as an insect repellent. A piece of punk can be placed upwind from your shelter or campsite and allowed to smolder. It will not require much, if any maintenance to keep going, and if you remove flammable material from the ground area where you placed it, it should be safe to leave it there even overnight.
This same tendency to smolder can be useful if you are preserving meat. When making jerky you do not want the meat to cook, only to dry and for the smoke to drive away flies. Punk is great for helping with this.
If you know that you do not have much fire starting material and you may be stuck in the wilderness for an extended period, find punk while conditions are dry and store some in a waterproof container.
If you enjoyed this, you might also like….