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Fatwood is a fire starter that is cut from the stump of a pine tree. The base of the pine tree collects the fire starting resin that flows throughout the tree; when the tree is cut down, the stump has retained all of the resin and becomes the perfect kind of wood for fatwood. The process for making fatwood is environmentally friendly, since it uses a part of the tree that would otherwise be unused. The stump has a large amount of natural resin that can easily sustain a flame; fatwood is an approximately 8" stick cut from the stump.[1] The fatwood is 100% natural and can be used to start things such as fireplaces, barbecues, and campfires. Fatwood is one of the only fire starters that is all natural. It can be used as easily as a liquid flammable fire starter or a product soaked in kerosene, and it is relatively safe as well.

Fatwood is a by-product of lumbering, and most fatwood companies do not produce fatwood from endangered pine species. Fatwood is generally harvested from renewable, managed forests.[2]

Tar and turpentine are by-products of the resin that comes from the production of fatwood; when fatwood is cooked down in a fire kiln, the heavier resin product that results is tar.[3] The steam that vaporizes from this process is turned into a liquid that becomes turpentine.[4]

Fatwood commonly comes from the longleaf pine, which has an abundant amount of resin. Today, the longleaf pine, which was a common sight in the southeastern United States, is endangered[5] due to deforestation and over-harvesting. Only about 3% of the original Longleaf Pine forest remains, and little new is planted. It is slow to regenerate as seed falls close to the parent trees [6] and saplings grow up near each other competing for water and nutrients.[7]

There is also a slight difference between kindling and fatwood, both seemingly the same.
All Fatwood is kindling, but not all kindling is Fatwood. Normally, hardwoods (such as oak, hickory, etc.) rejected during the manufacturing process are sold as kindling. Hardwood kindling does not start as quickly or have a fire as intense as fatwood, and it requires newspaper or another additive to get started. While it appears that the customer is getting more for the money with higher-volume kindling bags, several pieces are needed to start each fire. Fatwood provides a lower cost with just two sticks needed per fire. [8]

Fatwood also can never "go bad"; in fact, even if fatwood gets wet it can still be lit. Though commonly known as 'Georgia fatwood", much of the fatwood is now being harvested internationally both to meet current demand as well as being able to offer a lower price for consumers.[9] Because domestic fatwood is becoming rarer, there is a need to search out other places with quality wood. One of these places is Central America, specifically the Honduras.[10]

Fatwood, or fatlighter, had developed their names a long time ago.

Fatwood and fatlighter are slang expressions which have been used in the South for many, many years to describe the amount of pitch (resin) in the pine wood. fatwood/fatlighter is the wood that is cut from the base of the pine tree, which has captured the resin from the trunk of the tree. Stumps that are left in the forest are cut by hand with a saw and ax to produce fatwood.[11]
It was the highly resinous wood (often called fatwood) of the longleaf pine tree that made it so desirable and sparked the naval stores industry throughout the Southeast. [12]
As the industry evolved, the distillation of fatwood kindling shifted to the processing of pine gum extracted from the living longleaf pine tree. Around 1850, the production of gum turpentine peaked in North Carolina and began to spread south into Georgia as northerly forests were exhausted.[13]

Today numerous companies sell fatwood: Eddie Bauer, J.C. Penney, Spiegel, Brookstone, Neiman-Marcus, Hanover House, Williams Sonoma, David Kay, Inc., Starcrest of California, The Sporting Edge Companies, Alsto's Handy Helpers, Sheraton International, Ace Hardware Stores, American Hardware Stores, True Value Hardware Stores, Shop-Rite Food Stores, Home Depot, Lowe's, L.L. Bean, Orvis, Price Club, Longleaf Lumber, and Sam's Wholesale.[14]

With the current concern for being environmentally as well as ecologically correct, "being green", there has been a dramatic rise in the use of wood stoves for heating. Because fatwood is non-toxic, environmentally friendly, easy to use, burns extremely hot, and only needs one to two sticks to start and maintain a fire, the use of fatwood has become quite popular.[15]

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Fatwood". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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