The Swedish fire torch is a fire build that is said to have been invented by Swedish soldiers during the Thirty Years War so that they could keep from traveling long distances get more fuel. Fuel efficiency is not only an issue during war, but it could be the difference between a warm night and hypothermia if you are in a wilderness survival scenario.
The Swedish fire torch conserves fuel by using only one log at a time. The technique is much easier if you have a saw, but it can be done with an ax, hatchet, machete, or full tang survival knife.
First, find a standing dead tree. Fell the tree and cut it into logs with edges as flat as you can make them. This is important because the torch will stand vertically. For this reason, you also don’t want the logs to be more than 3 feet long, and if the diameter is small the log should be even shorter to provide more stability.
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Next, stand your log up and make a cut down the center of it (from 12 o’clock to 6 o’clock) that goes from the top of the log as low as you can get it without splitting it. It’s ok if you split the log completely, it just may be harder to keep it standing upright. This will be easier with a saw, but it can be down by batoning (once your hatchet or knife blade is in the wood, use another piece of wood to strike the blade and drive it deeper). Then, make another cut perpendicular to your first cut. If you need to, place sticks in the cuts to keep them open as you go.
After that, take kindling that will fit into the cuts and start stacking it about 1/3 of the way down from the top. Alternate the cut you place the kindling in as you stack them up so that each piece is perpendicular to the next piece. Then, in the last few inches from the top, add some tinder.
Your torch is ready to light.
This fire build may take a little more energy from you to set up, but sometimes that is what it takes to stay warm at night or have safe drinking water. This technique has worked for hundreds of years in some of the coldest places, so remember it if you are short on wood and need to stay warm.
Here is a great video with some tips and tricks to complete your very own Swedish Fire Torch: