If you’ve read our recent review of alternative stoves, here are some ideas of what you can actually burn in those stoves. It should go without saying that you should only collect materials that is already dead – even if gorse and heather are removed by landowners occasionally. Also, avoid any treated wood – this is most likely if you’re collecting jetsam from the beach (or risking wet feet for flotsam).
1 – Use Another Stove – Definitely cheating, but having an emergency option to fall back on is a wise precaution. You can usually fit a meths burner or gel cooker in there, or alternatively throw in some solid fuel tablets. These also double as a firelighter, and you could make them go further by cutting the tablets up. Depending on the stove used, it’ll act as an effective wind shield. For more information, read our article on Alternative Camping Stoves.
2 – Wood Pellets – Kitty litter pellets burn well, are inert and cheap. There’s no chemical smell either. This is another option where you can get the fire started easy enough, then top up with some of the following fuels.
3 – Heather and Gorse– Readily available on the UK hills. Burns well, too well. You certainly don’t want to be lighting fires anywhere near any dry growth.
4 – Dung – If you can find some dry dung, then yes, it will burn. Question is, do you want to? We’ve not tried this out ourselves, but we’re far too curious for our own good at Mud and Routes and expect an article soon!
5 – Pine Cones – burn fast and hot – and any fool can set one of these alight as they’re tinder, kindling and fuel all rolled into one.
6 – Peat – Can be used as a fuel source, but probably constitutes environmental vandalism to get hold of any for fuelling a stove. If you’re camped in a location where the peat is already dry enough to burn without drying, do you really think you should be starting any fires??
7 – Charcoal – Highly effective fuel – especially for a BBQ – and faff free as it often just needs the bag lit and in 30 mins you’ve got a glowing fire. Not practical for more than a one off.
8 – Wood – Blooming obvious, and not always an option in the wilds (unless you’re in a forest or on the beach). Where it is an option, then it’s the first option most will think about. Of course, different types of wood will burn better than others. I’m no Ray Mears, so the best you’ll get from me is dry wood – good, wet wood – bad, and wood dipped in petrol – good for sterilising water for treating the ensuing burns.