Charring Punk Wood

The usefulness of punk wood for making fires, can’t be understated. It is my go to material for sustaining an ember created from friction fire and it’s a fantastic material to char and take a weak spark from a fire striker.
Punk wood is rotten wood, wood that has become punky (soft and spongy) through fungal decay. It can be found everywhere, and, even on wet days, if you look hard enough, you can find dry punk.
Having collected the punk wood, you need a tin, any sort will do as long as it has a lid. Pierce a small hole in the lid of the tin using a nail. Next fill the tin with punk wood and close the lid. After that, place the tin on a fire. Before long the charring process starts and smoke begins to come out from the small hole. Keep an eye on the smoke and once it lessons and goes out (about 10min), carefully lift the tin out from the fire and leave it to cool. Don’t be tempted to lift the lid off too early. If you do, exposure to oxygen will lead to combustion and your charred punk wood will ignite. Once cool, however, you can take the lid off to reveal the charred punk wood. Now it’s ready to take a spark from a fire striker. Even a weak spark will create and ember which can then be placed in to a tinder bundle (for example, purple moor grass) and blown into a flame.

Punk wood can also be used uncharred. I use it alot to sustain an ember created through firiction fire. An ember created through friction fire is fragile and small. Moving an ember like this into a tinder bundle and blowing it into flame can be risky: you can drop it and, if your tinder isn’t dry enough, there’s a risk you’ll extinguish it before it ingnites the grass. A better alternative is to place some punk wood on the ember and let it grow and build. With a much larger ember, you have more time and more chances to create a flame. 

If you would like to learn how to use punk wood and charred material to create a fire why not join one of our bushcraft courses, run throughout the year. We also run courses on request for individuals, families, workplaces and schools.

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