Before we begin our Betterwood Products Fatwood Firestarter product review let’s get into what fatwood is. Fatwood is from the pine tree stump, after a tree is cut down the stump becomes impregnated with sap. This makes the wood hard and impervious to rot and most likely waterproof. Fatwood Firestarter’s are just cut versions of this wood. Making this a 100% natural product. Betterwood gets it’s fatwood from logging waste, meaning no trees are cut down just to make this product.
The box of Firestarter’s we received was 1.5 pounds and contains around 36 pieces of fatwood. Uniform in length the thickness of each piece was random. It really looks like just a box of saw cut sticks. You can find this size at a local retailer for around $5. Large 10 pound boxes are available online at about $22. At the recommended 2 sticks per fire this makes your cost .28 cents per use.
Hard to start at first.
We set out sticks up in the recommended X pattern to light them up and get some picks, then testing the burn time. I used one thick piece and one thinner piece. Because it was a breezy day so that hampered our efforts some but, for the life of me I couldn’t get these things to light or to stay lit. It would take a good minute or 2 just to see them start to light and go out within seconds. After 15 minutes I gave up and reread the box and then went to the internet for answers. I tried the suggested cutting slice in the ends but that wasn’t working either.
Finally I decided to try snapping a piece in half and lighting the splintered ends. That worked like a charm. Both ends lit within seconds and stayed lit. During the lighting process you could see the sap bubbling out of the sticks causing a thick black smoke. The Fatwood smells like burning pine once it gets going.
Burn Time was 12 Minutes
Both sticks went out within a few second of each other with a little help from the wind. The thicker piece did not burn down to ash, only the outside of it burned.
How does Fatwood do lighting charcoal?
With our snap the pieces in half revelation lighting a load of charcoal was a breeze. We skipped the recommended X pattern and simply inserted 4 half pieces into our charcoal pile and it lit right up. After 10 minutes the coals were lighting. In 20 minutes our charcoal was usable and all of the black smoke was gone.
Fatwood Firestarter Product Review the Bottom Line:
This being the 3rd product of this type that we have had the opportunity to review so we now have several things to compare it to. From a cost perspective: Fatwood is right between Tumbleweeds and Weber lighter cubes, if purchasing in larger quantities (10lb boxes are available) it would win out. This is the longest burning Firestarter that we have tested to date by around a 25% margin. The black smoke is a turnoff but, Weber’s does that to and smells a lot worse. Lastly is the ease of use: After we discovered the snap it in half trick these light up just as easily as the other Firestarter’s that we have tested.
So we will give it 4 out of 5 stars.
Full discloser: We received a sample box of this product in exchange for this review. Check out all Betterwood Products on their website here.
aka Sultan of Sizzle
I have been blogging about and selling grilling tool for over 12 years. A Certified Food Safety Professional, KCBS member, award winning writer and have over 10 years experience in the food service industry.
“I have experienced some of the best food this country has to offer and nothing is better than the food that comes off my own grill!”
Thanks so much for taking the time to review and post your thoughts. The black smoke is normal and to be expected from fatwood. It’s simply the natural resin in the wood burning up. You should only begin cooking over your charcoal after the fatwood is totally burned up anyway so there’s no issue.
As for getting it lit, I think there may be a disconnect in expectations sometimes because people are so used to lighter fluid and other firestarters that have chemicals that immediately flare up.
Fatwood is nothing more than pine wood with a lot of naturally occuring resin. That means some sticks may light faster or slower and either way, they won’t spark up in seconds like chemicals. It’s a tortoise and hare type of situation. It may be a bit slower to start, but once it’s going, it’ll last longer and do a better job. Hope that makes more sense now.
I’m a fellow KCBS member, but over in Australia. I just picked up some of these and had the same trouble you did. Thanks for this review, as it’s given me some missing information.