This section is from the book "Scouting For Rural Boys. A Manual For Leaders", by Boy scouts of America. See also: Outdoor Adventure Manual: Essential Scouting Skills for the Great Outdoors.
The following outline, suggested by the Hampshire-Franklin, Mass., Council, was taken from a splendid article of practical value which appeared in an issue of the "Camping Magazine." Its author is Dr. Bernard S. Mason.
Since woods vary so much in the way they burn, the heat they throw and the. cooking coals they produce, a familiarity with the trees that burn well is fundamental and important in firecraft.
1. Advantages: a. Furnish excellent kindling for starting a fire.
b. Make good fires for light and no heat.
2. Disadvantages: a. Burn fast and have no lasting qualities for night fires.
b. Produce no long burning coals.
c. The coals frequently spray sparks on blankets, tents, or clothing.
3. Among soft woods to be avoided are:
White Cedar Balsam Hemlock
White Pine Red Cedar Sweet Gum
Spruce Soft Maple Tulip
1. Requirement for cooking fire: a. Wood that burns slowly and evenly.
b. Produces a thick bed of lasting glowing coals.
2. Requirement for a night fire: a. Wood that burns slowly.
b. Throws a maximum of heat.
3. The following woods are listed approximately in the order of preference:
Hickory Sugar Maple
Black and Yellow Birch
White Birch Dry Chestnut
4. For a quick lunch the following woods will provide plenty of heat and will quickly produce a good bed of coals, especially if split. Split wood burns much more efficiently than small round branches:
5. Most of the above woods can be used when green: a. Used for a fire which is expected to last.
b. Green wood burns better in winter than in summer.
c. Green wood cut in a low damp place will not burn as well as that cut on high ground.
Slow Burning Woods for Back Logs
There are many situations in fire building when one needs logs that burn very slowly. Such is the case in seeking back logs for reflector fire, or side logs on which to rest the kettles in a hunter-trapper fire, or for logs used as andirons. The following are the best woods for this purpose:
Green Balsam Green Red Oak
Green Black Ash Green Butternut
Green Red Maple Green Chestnut
Materials for Starting a Fire
1. Birch Bark.
a. One of the most inflammable materials in the woods.
b. It will ignite when wet.
c. Burns furiously for a long time.
d. Best of all tinders for starting fires.
2. Cedar Bark and twigs of evergreens are excellent.
3. Dry cones furnish a quick blaze for a few minutes.
Dry Chestnut Birch
Hickory White Oak
Chestnut Oak White Ash