The Swedish Torch: Now We’re Talking Yule Log
If you’re cooking out in the wilderness traditionally or need to cook without your handy dandy propane stove you’re basically left with a pot and a bundle of firewood. While it may seem that all you need is fire to cook with, you’ll quickly find out that cooking over a camp fire is difficult and not without hazards. There is no way you’re going to just hold your pot over the fire with your hands as this is dangerous and takes you away from other tasks that you could be doing. You also might not be in an area that offers trees to make a pot hanger with (see: desert). But, if you have a cut log, a la firewood, you can make yourself a really neat little stove called a Swedish Torch. Some of the best ideas have been around for centuries and this stove is one of them. All you need to get a good meal cooking is a pot and a log or other suitable pieces of wood. No pot hangers, no rods and no grill. Let’s have a look at this really cool idea.
All you need is a decent sized log that is cut flat on the top and bottom. Basically the log should be about the size of your head, be about 18-24 inches high and be cut flat enough on the bottom that it will stand on its own. It should also be flat on the top so you can place a pot or pan on it without the thing falling over.
Next you split the log into six pieces. You can baton it or split it with an ax. Which ever way you split it be sure to watch out for your eyes as metal or wood could fly off and blind you. You don’t need that kind of trouble in the woods. Also, be sure to not cut yourself while splitting the log. Again, who needs that kind of trouble.
After the log is split you can either bundle it together loosely with twine, 550 or wet bark strips or you can just balance the whole thing together if the log is big enough. In my example I had a log that was a little small so I just made four sections. For a bigger log you need at least six sections. This allows for greater air flow and for more burning area. Once the log is split and bundled you stand it up on end and set some kindling in the center of the log.
The spaces should be about a quarter inch to let the air in and not more than that or the fire will lose heat. Place the kindling towards that bottom quarter of the log and light ‘er up. It doesn’t take long for the log to get going and you’ll notice a very hot and high flame shooting out if the top of the log. Put your pot down and start cookin’. Depending on the size and species of wood, you should get at least an hour out of it. The cool thing about this design is that once your done cooking, you just push over the log and you have a traditional camp fire.
There are a few different designs that I have seen based on this idea. Basically, the Swedish Torch is a rocket stove. It concentrates air and heat in a confined area and produces and incredible concentration of energy in the form of fire. We had a desert trip a few days ago and I made a modified Swedish stove for the occasion. I took eight pieces of scrap one by one pine and bundled it together with bailing wire. In the center I took a short three inches piece of wood that the longer pieces became bundled around. I took a half inch drill bit and put a hole in one of the longer pieces just above the small three inch piece. After about 15 minutes of construction I made a Swedish stove. It went off like a flame thrower. You could also use the same idea with a bundle of 2-3 inch branches. Just cut them all to about 18 inches and tie them all together around a short core. It is very easy to make these things with just a little thought. With that, there are companies out there making and selling Swedish Torches. All they do is get a log and drill a 2 inch hole down the center just shallow of the bottom of the log. Then a horizontal hole is drill at the bottom of the log that meets up with the vertical hole. Basically it forms an “L”. That’s it. They aren’t cheap either. About in the $40 range. No need to spend that kind of money for something you could make very easily. Heck, if you have a 2″ auger bit for your drill you could make a fancy Swedish Candle. Here are some pictures of a Swedish Torch made from scraps of wood found around the house.
Which ever way you decide to go, Swedish Torches are very cool and functional. Once you see one going you’ll never take a camping trip without one. Once you make one out of wood you found in the wilderness, you’ll have a whole new method of cooking and staying warm. If you can’t wait for your next trip, try one in the fire pit. Just be careful. Fire in any shape or form requires respect. If you don’t respect her, she’ll burn ya.~ Adam, Modern Bushman >