SWEDISH TORCH. CANADIAN CANDLE. FIRE LOG. Whatever you call it, this self-contained outdoor fire is fun, easy, and efficient.
The beauty of the Swedish Torch is its simplicity. Take a single round of dry wood, drill or saw a ventilated burning chamber, and then light it using a combination of kindling and lighter fluid.
Once lit, the round can burn unattended for several hours. It burns well on a wet or snowy ground, and the flat cooking surface is ideal for a cast iron pan. This ingenious one-log fire was popularized by Swedish soldiers in the 17th century who needed an easy-to-build fire the worked well in snow. Thus the name: The Swedish Torch.
STEP ONEFind a dry round that is about 12" in diameter and 2'-3' high. Choose a round that is level on at least one end so it will stand up straight (level on both ends if you plan to cook). Drill a vertical hole about halfway into the round. Since the hole works like a chimney, make it large enough to generate sufficient airflow--preferably about 1½" diameter. *To cook using a Swedish Torch, simply drive 3 or 4 nails about halfway into the top surface (space the nails so they create a workable stovetop for a cast iron pan but don't interrupt the airflow to the vertical shaft). Flat stones can also be used.
Drill a horizontal hole that intersects the vertical hole. Clear out the hole as much as possible to create a clear path for airflow.
STEP THREEAlthough there are countless ways to ignite a Swedish Torch, one tried-and-true technique is as follows:
- Place fire starter in the horizontal shaft (fat wood, fire starter squares, etc.),
- douse the vertical shaft with lighter fluid,
- place 2 or 3 tall slivers of kindling in the vertical shaft,
- then light the fire starter while blowing gently into the horizontal shaft.
WHY WE PREFER THE DRILLED VERSIONThe Swedish Torch has been around for centuries, so there are a number of variations on the basic idea. The beauty of the the drilled version (as opposed to the the popular chainsaw version) is the torch effect. While it doesn't burn any more efficiently than other versions, the campsite cool of a hissing torch shooting vertically from a log is hard to beat. For this effect, you need to break out the drill.