Fires are a staple of any campout, but unfortunately, rain can be too. How can you make a fire when everything is wet? With a good fire starter and some cleverly arranged logs, you can still make a fire that will last all night long. That’s why we’ve put together a straightforward guide to starting a fire with wet wood. If you don’t want to let a little rain keep you down, read on!


Collect pine needles and bark for tinder.

  1. Search the area for dry pine needles, grass, moss, bark, wood chips, or wood shavings.[1] If they're all wet or you can’t find anything, use cotton balls, dryer lint, crumpled paper, or toilet paper, or similar materials you might have on hand.[2]
    • In wet conditions, add cooking oil or petroleum jelly to materials like cotton balls to make a DIY fire starter.
    • If you’re planning ahead, pack steel wool or magnesium shavings to include in your tinder. They burn hot and help dry out firewood in wet conditions.[3]
    • Pack or collect about 4 times as much tinder as you’d normally need to start a wet wood fire.[4]
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Grab an armful of small twigs for kindling.

  1. Search dead trees (fallen or standing) for twigs you can snap off. Also look in the underbrush or for twigs and sticks that were shielded from the rain.[5] You’ll need about 4 times more kindling to start a wet wood fire than a regular one.[6]
    • If you can only find wet twigs, shave off the outer layers with a knife to get to the dry center.[7]
    • The ideal kindling sticks are thinner than the width of an adult finger and around 6 inches (15 cm) long.
    • If necessary, use a hatchet to split large logs open, revealing the dry wood inside. Then shave off dry pieces to use as kindling.[8]

Make a small platform with logs or rocks.


Arrange the largest logs in a criss-cross pattern.

  1. Turn them so the driest side is facing the center. Make sure to leave about 1 inch (2.5 cm) of space between the logs and the kindling for air flow.[14]
    • The top side of the logs should be level with or slightly taller than the top of the kindling teepee. If they’re not, stack another log on top to achieve that height.
    • Stack 2 more logs on top of the base layer. Lay them perpendicular to the bottom logs to create a criss-cross or hashtag shape.[15]

Use matches or a lighter to light the tinder.


Put out the fire completely when you're done.

About This Article

Britt Edelen
Co-authored by:
Outdoor Educator
This article was co-authored by Britt Edelen and by wikiHow staff writer, Dan Hickey. Britt Edelen was an active member of his local Boy Scouts troop near Athens, Georgia from ages 8 to 16. As a Scout, he went on dozens of camping trips, learned and practiced many wilderness survival skills, and spent countless hours appreciating the great outdoors. In addition, Britt worked as a counselor for several summers at an adventure camp in his hometown, which allowed him to share his passion for and knowledge of the outdoors with others. This article has been viewed 21,523 times.
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Updated: February 16, 2023
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