Make Your Own To-Go Torch

Photo by J. Heinimann/Alamy

Some folks call it a Swedish candle; some, a Swedish torch; and others, a Canadian stove. I call it the coolest fire trick ever. A log split into wedges, with tinder jammed into the cracks, throws tall flames for plenty of light, and the flat top makes a great cooking platform for a skillet or Dutch oven. Since the finished torch is pretty portable, do most of the work at home and toss it into your truck or boat. Whether you’re Swedish, Canadian, or neither, you’ll be seconds from a serious blaze when you blow into camp at zero-dark-thirty.

The Prep
Select a single round of seasoned firewood that stands upright and level. Split it into even quarters using an ax or hatchet, and then use baling wire to tie the split firewood back together about 6 inches up from the bottom end. Or use a chain saw and cut through the upright log, as if to quarter it, but stop about 6 inches from the bottom (see photo above). Widen the slits to approximately twice the width of the saw blade. Once you reach your destination, set it up in an open, flat area.

The Pyrotechnics
Collect finger-thick sticks and tinder material, such as birch bark, dry leaves and grass, or wadded-up newsprint. With the torch standing up, jam half of the sticks into the splits, about a foot from the top of the log. Push half of the dry tinder down on top of that. Then pile the remaining tinder and sticks on the very top. Light the fire here and get cooking. ­After the initial burn, you can pull apart the wedges to douse the fire, or reposition them into a traditional tepee- or log-cabin-style fire.