What Is Fatwood

What Is Fatwood

What Exactly Is Fatwood?


Fatwood, also known as “fat lighter” “lighter wood” is a natural product that is composed of the resin-rich remains of a fallen pine tree. The rich fatwood is rot, and decay free. Due to the decay resistance, fatwood can remain at the site of a fallen pine for hundreds, and in some cases, thousands of years.

Pine trees produce sap to carry nutrients, minerals, and carbohydrates along with other material throughout the tree. When a pine tree dies, the "sap" or resin collects at the taproot of the tree, "stump" area, and knotted joints from which limbs project. Over time, the bark and outer layers of the tree will decay, and the resin-rich fatwood will remain. 

Where Fatwood Comes From

When the pine tree falls over from natural causes, typically a small stump will remain in the ground, along with the tree's taproot. The rich pine resin is drawn to these locations.  Below is a picture of a taproot that remained in the ground long after the tree had fallen, as well as a rendering of the taproot remaining in the ground below the stump.



Resins continue to be drawn toward the taproot, and the knotted branch sections of the tree. Over time, in a fallen tree, much of the limb decays, and only small sections protruding from the tree remain.

Fatwood Is An All Natural Creation

The early stages of tree decay are below. As you can see, the resin has hardened the former branch site, and a small knot remains. The surrounding areas of the tree will continue to decay, and eventually disappear.

In the picture below, most of the exterior of the pine tree has decayed. The resinous limb remnants will now be preserved for hundreds of years.


The remaining knots are highly-resinous. Individual knots are often found scattered throughout the wooded landscape. These knots can exist as the sole remnant of the long decayed pine tree.

Fatwood’s high concentration of resin makes it an ideal all-natural fire starter. Fatwood burns at a very high temperature, and that allows it to be used to light larger logs, even in damp or windy conditions.

In a future post we'll explain how to harvest and split fatwood. Stay tuned!

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