Swedish engineering is well known and respected for creating some of the world's best quality watches and knives. But did you know that the Swedes created a brilliantly innovative way to light a fire?
The Swedish torch makes building a fire easy, requires less wood to keep it going, requires little to no maintenance, and even provides a relatively nice cooking surface for fry pans and kettles.
All it requires is a large-diameter log, a couple hands full of kindling, a chainsaw or hand saw, and a lighter (or flint if you're looking to really show off).
Cut an Asterisk
Set a tall, wide, hearty log end-up like a short pillar on the ground. Placing it on sand, dirt, or gravel is ideal to provide a firm foundation and prevent the spread of fire. Also, make sure there's no low-hanging brush or tree branches near it. Using a chainsaw or handsaw, cut 3 large slots, evenly spaced apart, about three-quarters of the way through the log to create an asterisk. Gather together any strings of wood that result from cutting. You can use these with your kindling.
Bundle Your Kindling
On top of the log, where you began your cuts, place some soft, dry kindling. This can be anything from dead grass, crumbled leaves, or shredded paper, but dryer lint works best if you've got any. On top of that, evenly crisscross small, dry twigs, cardboard, bark, or other similar materials you can break apart with your fingertips. You want these to catch fire easily, but burn longer than the kindling. Consider also placing a few thicker twigs atop the kindling that may burn a bit longer than the rest.
Light 'Em Up!
It's the moment of truth. Remember when your mother told you not to play with matches? Forget all of that! Get the very bottom layer of your kindling pile lit on all sides, then sit back and watch it burn. As the pile of kindling burns, it will begin to fall down into the cracks of your asterisk that you cut. This is supposed to happen. The log will protect the flame, and the smoke will vent out the top, allowing the fire to grow upward from the inside.
Keep it Cooking
You can add a few more small sticks to the top to help further fuel it until the log begins burning more evenly, but once it does you're golden. The log should burn for approximately 2-4 hours, which is just perfect to do some cooking and stay warm while you feast. Rest a fry pan or a kettle on the top of the log, like a stove-top burner. It'll hold it flat, right over the flame. The slots down the sides will continue to allow ventilation as you cook over the fire, so there's no concern of snuffing it out with your pan.
Extinguish The Heat
When you're finished with your Swedish torch, you should always extinguish any remaining coals. Chances are, the flames are out by now, but the hot red coals that remain can still spread into a forest fire if you're not around to manage them. Pour sufficient amounts of water and dirt over the coals until you no longer see smoke. Once the smoke is gone, you should be good to go. To be extra safe, consider pouring another equal amount of water and dirt over it before you leave.