Spy School: How to Build a Swedish Fire Torch for Cooking and Warmth

A simple, smart survival method for creating a cooking surface hot enough to boil water.

When you're stuck in the woods (hey, it could happen…), you have to make do with what you have on hand. If you forgot to bring along your trusty camping stove, you'll have to find a different way to cook up your midday meal.

Making one of those classic campfires, the kind you told ghost stories around when you were a Boy Scout, may be a bit unnecessary in terms of the time, work, and materials involved, especially when all you want to do is heat up that can of chili.

Good thing you know how to make a Swedish Fire Torch!  A Swedish Fire Torch is a type of campfire, but since it only takes one log to make, you won't need to stray too far from your tent to get all the supplies you need.

Here are the basic steps to make one:

  1. Get and/or shape a nice log so that it rests flat vertically
  2. Make sure the top surface is level and wide enough to support your pan/pot
  3. Cut the log lengthwise into even wedges (larger logs may need more wedges)
  4. Place some tinder in the space between the wedges
  5. Light the tinder
  6. As the tinder burns away, push the wedges together so the inside of the log burns from the inside out

Some benefits:

  • less effort involved
  • fewer supplies needed
  • built-in stovetop
  • self-contained
  • no need to add more logs every few minutes
  • can be moved, if necessary

Also, let's say you're in the woods because you're on the run. (It's okay. We don't judge.) Well, a Swedish Fire Torch may be perfect for you since it emits minimal light, smoke, and sound.

If your goal is to warm multiple bodies, this won't be your fire of choice. However, this is a great one to add to your survivalist book of tricks.

Check out these videos to watch one being made:

And if you'd prefer your instructor to be a tad older:

Douglas Wagner

Douglas Wagner is a writer, entrepreneur, and freelance marketing consultant based in Los Angeles with a passion for adventure, advertising, and alliteration. He is an avid supporter of "learn something new everyday" and "don't knock it 'til you try it."