Gathering Rich Pine

Today’s post was written by The Deer Hunter.

bundle of rich pine with an ax

Bundle of freshly gathered rich pine

As a lifelong hunter and outdoorsman, I’ve long known the importance of fire and knowing how to build one under any conditions. From understanding the difference between tinder, kindling, and fuel, to knowing the best species of tree to source wood from.

I learned at an early age to look for dead, dry wood that is above ground level. Wood lying on the ground absorbs moisture and is harder to get to combust.


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The power of rich pine 💪 #appalachia #richpine #lighterwood #fatwood #naturalfirestarter #nature

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Getting a fire started is made easier with the aide of fat wood. Fat wood, or rich pine as its called in my neck of the woods, is created from dead pine.

The resin collects in the lower trunk of the tree or at the base of dead limbs. Small shavings of this material, along with a few splits of it are all that’s needed to start a fire that will burn for ten to fifteen minutes while you gather the rest of the makings for your fire. Best of all, rich pine comes from mother nature. Hands down its the very best firestarter I’ve ever used.

The Deer Hunter

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  • Reply
    Gaye Blaine
    October 3, 2020 at 2:51 pm

    Daddy and mama purchased a piece ofground that was covered in second growth pines. In clearing a house place daddy pulled up a lot of pines by the roots with his mare, Maude. The wood he burned but created quite a pile of pine stumps which dried over the years into fine, fine kindling as daddy called it. He would chop off a good sized root and split it into small slender pieces with his double bitted ax. My job was to carry it in the house and drop in a box which sat under the cook stove. The next morning long before daylight while our rooster and the neighbor’s rooster were crowing, he arose and started a fire for mama to cook breakfast. The stump pile has nearly disintegrated now but holds many fond memories; my cousins and I played in and around the stumps many a time. Our hound and Hejnz 57 dogs kept snakes and skunks at bay. The free range hens, as they are now called, loved to lay eggs in the stump pile. Everything had a purpose on a mountain homestead.

  • Reply
    Auther Ray
    February 4, 2020 at 9:07 pm

    We always called it “Fat Wood” for starting fire. Pine cones make good fire starters also.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    February 3, 2020 at 9:22 am

    Back years ago we had a good stand of Loblolly Pine trees…This area began to have a huge infestation of Pine Beetles and we lost several pines before we could get loggers here to cut and salvage all of them… Needless to say we had a lot of rich pine for lighting fires…Just about during all this time we quit (too old) to cut firewood for our wood insert fireplace and I sure miss it. We also had plenty of old Black Pines that we gathered starter wood from…Seems like that is the Black Pines life on earth…to grow all those extra branches so some can die off and drop for fire starters..Once a fire is started well, we always had plenty of Hickory and Oak hardwood for keeping a hot, lasting fire going thru the night…
    Thanks for this post,
    PS…With the climate change especially showing this barely needs a hot fire like back in the “olden days”! LOL

  • Reply
    January 30, 2020 at 10:56 am

    Pine does burn good. We mostly use cedar, and i love the smell of it to. We still burn wood. I like the good warm heat.

  • Reply
    Sue McIntyre
    January 29, 2020 at 9:07 pm

    We called it pine kindling growing up. Wood heat was our only heat source. Pine kindling was a treasured necessity. I remember years ago, I found myself living in an older home. The furnace went out and it was an extremely cold Spring. Trying to save the money I did not have at the time, I resigned my self to heating the house with the wood fireplace. The problem was I worked 10 hrs. a day. Often, when we got home the house was like ice. Not even a single coal to start a fire with. One of my patients, at the time, suggested I pick up a sack full of pine cones from his yard for kindling. I kinda laughed to myself, but it worked better than those “store bought” log starters. I often wonder how many of those precious nuggets of wisdom I missed when I worked with the elderly. Thanks for the reminder, and keep up the good work!

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    January 29, 2020 at 1:03 pm

    and Matt,
    I am 71, will be 72 in April and I knew Matt was a ‘Son of the Smokies’ the first time I met him. He came by my trusty dog, Topper without him even barking. I was commenting on Tipper’s blog and didn’t notice him come in. He sat down behind me and I was startled at first, but he had a big grin on his face so I knew he was alright.

    When he left, I knew he was between jobs from Tipper, so I called the school and talked to the man in charge. I hope I was one of the reasons Matt got hired. I told the Manager that Matt was a lot like my dad, knows alot and trustworthy. He did a good job with this piece. …Ken

  • Reply
    Marylou Sweat
    January 29, 2020 at 12:25 pm

    My late DH always called it “fat lighter” or “lighter knot” and always got all he could whenever a pine when down at the farm. I don’t remember ever being out of it…Marylou Sweat/Dover, Florida

  • Reply
    harry adams
    January 29, 2020 at 10:09 am

    It was “lighter’d” in our part of SC. Contraction of light wood. I can remember gathering knots to go around the wash pot before I was old enough to go to school. My older brother and I would take our little wagon and gather the knots. It took only a few to get the wash pot water boiling.

    Many years later when I was working in Aiken, SC my boss told a story of having one of the men take a load of Lighter’d to one of the Yankee ladies that had moved into Aiken with her husband when the factory that I worked at had started. A pickup load of lighter’d should last years. Well in a month she told Joe that she would like another load of the wonderful firewood as she had used most of it up.

  • Reply
    January 29, 2020 at 9:00 am

    My brother-in-law told me there is not a pine tree on the farm. I have never thought about it, but will have to investigate.
    My parents used coal to heat the house. We just split any kind of wood for kindling, but I don’t remember using or ever hearing about rich pine. I live close to an area called Cedar Grove. All you have to do is look around to know how the name came about. There used to be tons of cedar on the farm, but I never use it for firewood. About a week after I got my security cameras, I saw a truck and trailer leave here loaded down with cedar logs. I did not file a police report as a family member assisted him. I bet they will never come back. Lol

    • Reply
      Ron Stephens
      January 29, 2020 at 3:19 pm

      Shirl, you almost certainly live in limestone country. Pines are most often found on acidic soils. Cedars are best suited to alkaline soils. However the heartwood of cedar has some characteristics in common with rich pine, just not the very flammable resin.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    January 29, 2020 at 8:27 am

    Holy Smokes! The Deer Hunter is a writer too!

  • Reply
    January 29, 2020 at 8:16 am

    As a kid I answered to the name getwood or splitwood it seems. My Papaw showed me the importance of rich pine at an early age and probable handed down to him as a kid.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    January 29, 2020 at 8:05 am

    Amen, nothing beats rich pine. It doesn’t even take water when the rest of the woods are wet. A big chunk of it makes a lot of light and lasts for a good while. And the resin keeps it from rotting so it lasts for years and years. If that is not enough, it has a nice ‘piney’ smell from the hot resin or even on a fresh break. It can even be snuffed out and used again another time.

    Sort of off the subject but when you all get over to Vogel State Park again there is a nice five-point star in the end of one of the stair treads of the CCC museum; the stair on the left as you face the building. The cut passed through a branch whorl of white pine and the center of each branch was ‘rich’ heartwood making it stand out in color from the surrounding wood.

  • Reply
    January 29, 2020 at 7:16 am

    I knew nothing of rich pine, and actually had avoided learning building a fire when growing up. I just did not care to get dirty, and certainly fortunate that I changed that attitude as I matured. Some of the best hobbies require getting dirty. I did find out rather quickly to gather the dried pine limbs that fell in the yard for starting a fire in the fireplace. I also read somewhere that saving dryer lint and stuffing it in a roll from bathroom tissue made a great fire starter. It does work and fulfills my need to recycle and repurpose. Deerhunter is a real handy man.

  • Reply
    Bill Burnett
    January 29, 2020 at 6:44 am

    One of my chores when growing up at Needmore was to search for “Rich Pine and Pine Knots” to start fire after it started cooling off. This wasn’t to hard as the ridge behind our house has a lot of Pine which had fallen and the outer wood had rotted away leaving the “Rich Pine” found in the center of most of the trees and the Pine Knots which are the resin rich found mostly where the larger limbs joined the center of the tree. I would then split the resin rich wood and place it in the kindling box, I love the smell of the resin and have in the past chewed the resin where it had bled out of a scared Pine and hardened. I don’t reckon this is harmful as I am now seventy years old and don’t show any ill effects from chewing the resin.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    January 29, 2020 at 6:34 am

    Wow, that really lights quick! Thanks for the post. I hope we will hear from you again.

  • Reply
    Leon Pantenburg
    January 29, 2020 at 6:20 am

    We call that fatwood or pitchwood in the Northwest, and we have it all over. I agree – it is one of the best natural firestarters ever!

  • Reply
    marshall reagan
    January 29, 2020 at 6:19 am

    I have split rich pine (fat lighter )to start fire for probably 55+ years we grew chickens & when they were little we heated the houses with wood . back before electricity & we heated the house with wood also I still use rich pine starting fires in the shop & when camping.

  • Reply
    Sue W.
    January 29, 2020 at 4:57 am

    We called it “Heart Pine or Lighter Wood” here on the west coast of Florida. You don’t see it much any more because of trees being pushed out to make more room for houses. My beloved maternal Grandfather would collect it to get the fires going when the temps dipped below 28 degrees for over 6 hours in winter to help keep his citrus groves warm. Firewood would be placed between the rows of trees and a small piece of rubber added. Once the logs were lit, the rubber made smoke which “hung” around the trees and helped to keep them protected from the cold. I remember the winter of 1961. It stayed so cold for so long, the sap froze in the citrus trees and many exploded! It sounded like rifle shot when they would explode!

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