THE FIR RESIN MATCH: A Little Known Secret from the Boreal Forest
A Guest Blog Post by Wayne Russell
I wanted to share a technique I created that uses fir resin as an effective fire tinder. I call it, The Fir Resin Match. Growing up in the country with older brothers, the great outdoors was our playground. We did a lot of wild foraging, since we missed dinner many times because we were just too busy playing in the woods. We built a lot of shelters and did a lot of fishing and hunting.
Of course, we needed FIRE to cook those fish on the riverbank, or a rabbit we hunted on a cold, winter’s day. I have made fire many ways, but I learned, over the years, about resin-saturated wood, and found fir resin makes for a great fire tinder, and it burns very hot.
DISCOVERING FIR RESIN FOR FIRE
It started when I took a stick and poked the blisters of a fir tree. There was a snap as the bark broke and the resin underneath popped out. If you’re not careful, it can shoot onto you, even get on your face or in your eyes. Needless to say, I got covered in resin, but I kept going—popping the blisters and wiping the resin on a piece of bark or letting the resin drip on to the bark. It was a little time consuming and I had to pop a lot of blisters, but man did it make a nice fire in the end!
Eventually, I wanted to come up with a method for harvesting fir resin for tinder that was quicker and easier than I had done previously.
Thus, the Resin match was born! I created this method to be used in conjunction with both a ferro rod, as well as a flame source. When looking to gather fir resin, you must examine the bark and look for the blisters the size of a raisin on the bark. Just under the blister is where resin resides. The resin can be gathered year-round. In the heat of the summer it’s loose and runs freely, and it reaches a thicker consistency in the winter. Whether you collect the resin in warmer months or cooler months, it works just as well. The resin is highly combustible and burns long and hot—this is what we want!
MAKING YOUR OWN RESIN-HARVESTING TOOL
Now that we have the material to be collected, I had to create the perfect tool for harvesting and I did just that! Follow these two simple steps to make your own resin-harvesting tool:
- I cut a 1-inch diameter stick to a length of about 8 inches. The end of the stick should be at a 90-degree flat angle.
- On one end, start carving outward to flatten one edge like a spoon—carve down until you reach the center line, making the spoon area as wide as possible. The larger the spoon area the more resin can be collected.
It’s as simple as that! Now, let’s harvest!
HARVESTING FIR RESIN
To use this tool, we are going to locate a blister and press into the tree, just under the blister. Now pressing firmly, we are going to scrape up the bark, tearing off the blister while capturing that precious resin. If the blistered bark lands on the spoon area that is fine. Continue doing this until you fill the spoon with at least a 1-inch diameter circle of resin.
TAKING FIR RESIN TO FLAME
Now, it’s time to light it! Simply lay the stick on the ground and step on the back side of it, holding it into place. Then, place your ferro rod into the resin, firmly plant it, and begin to strike. Personally, I use the multi-strike method, where I drive sparks into the resin and stop about ½” before the length of the rod. I move up and down the rod rather fast to shower and concentrate the heat into the resin, until I see flame.
I have shown this method to many folks and they use it often and have loved it. I wanted to create a way to make fir resin an effective tinder. I feel that I have succeeded, so I wanted to share this with as many folks as possible. It can be very useful and maybe, one day, save a life. I’ve also included a video below.
What’s your favorite fire tinder?
Wayne Russell has over 35 years of wilderness and survival experience, which he loves to share and teach others. You can find his YouTube channel to see more here: http://www.youtube.com/user/kullcaven