As far as I know a wood (for the "hearth board") has to full fill several characteristics (at least they've to be soft) to be suitable for a friction fire. When in a survival situation, how can I determine (quick'n'dirty) if a piece of wood fits the needs?

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    They just need to be softwoods, surrounding trees will tell you the wood you pick but if u can dent it with a nail its softwood.... Jul 21, 2016 at 11:46

1 Answer 1


The most critical consideration is that it is absolutely bone dry which can be a challenge in temperate climates. Usually the best bet is to look for dead wood which is standing or at least off the ground. Ideally you are looking for something which is obviously long dead but still sound i.e. not rotten.

Similarly it is often best to split a moderately thick log to get to the drier wood in the interior.

In a survival situation you may not have a huge amount of choice as to particular species which also meet the above criteria so dryness should be the main goal.

If you can get the setup to the stage where the friction point is starting to turn dark brown or black then you are probably on the right track and it's probably worth persisting.

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