During my last trip on the northern part of the Bohusleden I relied solely on the Caldera Cone wood burning stove. I was quite anxious how it would work as in the past I was never able to correctly start a fire and keep it going. I always produced a lot of smoke…
During the trip I always used wet wood as the environment had a lot of rain during the past 3 weeks and some of the current trip’s nights. I carried methylated spirits as backup but never needed it. During the last days I even didn’t need the fire starting pads anymore and could come by with natural fire starter. This was a great experience, as I managed to cook with my woodburning stove correctly.
Ok lets come to the facts.
I use cotton batting with drops of wax on them. They are homemade from old Christmas candle stumps and cost nothing.
Don’t use methylated spirits, it doesn’t burn long enough. Never achieved anything good with it.
Collect anything you want but it must burn a while to get the fire started.
Dry grass, fern or dandelion seeds don’t work that good. So combine them with real thin but very dry conifer branches (1-2mm).
Birch bark. If dry it is great. If it is not dry, ditch it. I often read that wet birch bark catches fire very well and burns really great. This is not correct! Use thin birch bark. You get the best from dead birch trees which is almost as thick as human skin.
Collect and dry natural tinder in your sleeping bag for the next day, as well as some sticks to light the fire easily.
Choosing the right wood:
Always use dead wood!
Choose broad-leafed tree wood in favor to conifer wood.
Use dead wood that got caught up in trees and branches not the one on the ground.
If you can’t find any good dead wood use the lower branches of conifer. They are mostly dead wood. If the branches don’t crack easily, leave them as they are, they are not yet dead!
Use thin sticks for your wood burning stove: Thickest of the size of your small finger.
Dry wood is the best if it is available… one of the worst tips here…
Preparing the wood:
Remove the bark as it contains a lot of moisture while the core is mostly dry.
Make short sticks you can easily push into the wood burning stove.
Make sure that your stove doesn’t scar the ground (Bushbuddy users look away :-) :
Take some thick branches and align them in a row, but in a way that air can still go through them. Put mud/soil on them. If they are completely dry make them and the soil wet (doesn’t necessarily mean to use your drinking water….) Then put the stove on top.
If you need dry wood for the next day(or morning), take some branches you collected and put them on top of the big branches to form a grid. The heat from your pot will dry them out and they are good starting wood on the next day(or morning).
Use a rock below… ok another greeeeaaat tip… but beware!!! Many rocks crack after they got too much heat, so keep your cooking short when cooking on a rock.
Preparing the stove:
Put a full size metal pad below your stove. This is needed to ensure that your fire doesn’t suck in ground moisture. This happened to me on a rainy evening where I had the hell to do in order to keep the fire running. After I put the aluminium sheet below the stove it burned fine! (Caldera users: The delivered sheet from Traildesigns is too small, ditch it!)
Align some sticks up around your stove so that they can dry up while you produce your first amber.
Starting the fire:
Light your tinder and put it in the center of the stove. Put smaller sticks on it then bigger sticks, same procedure as with every fire.
Put wet sticks on top of your stove while you create your main ember to dry them.
When there is a good amount of ember put more sticks on it and put your pot on the stove. Leave some space between the sticks and your stove to ensure a good flow of air!
Keeping the fire burning:
When the fire burnt down a bit, use the partly dry sticks you aligned around your stove.
Use a tool to blow air in the fire to avoid tears from smoke and to ensure good breathing way out of the smoke clouds. Use the tube from your drinking system to sit comfortably and blow into the fire without being in the big smoke cloud. Perhaps a part of your hiking pole can work as tube, too?
One final note on Bushbuddy vs. Caldera: Bushbuddy ultra 144g Caldera cone 95g. Enjoy your meal and campfire!