How To…. Build a Finnish Candle – Raappanan tuli – Part 6

Welcome to Part 6 of this series on bushcraft candles.

On my ‘to do’ list was the Raappanan tuli candle. From my research on candles it seems that this is the original Finnish candle. I became aware of this type of candle from reading Perkele’s blog (link to the aticle at the end of the post).

It is a simple but effective system using only one log. The log provides the support limbs and the tinder/kindling.

This system works very well in dry cold environments where you have well seasoned dead standing timber. I, on the other hand, had a few pieces of damp birch collected from the woods a couple of weeks ago, but decided to try it out anyway.

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Raappanan tuli candle/stove

The log I used was 45cms in length.

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One slightly damp birch log

Firstly split the log but not right in the centre – slightly off centre.

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Split off just over a third

Then split off another piece about the same size from the other side so that you are left with a flat piece of wood in the centre.

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Split out just over another third

The wood did not split straight down so I ended up with two centre pieces.

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The wood in the middle gets split into kindling

After splitting the centre pice into kindling I shaved off all the bark to use as tinder.

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Shave the bark off as well

Then using your axe, chop into the split areas of the support limbs (the full length) to create a fuzz stick effect. This will give something for the flames from your initial fire to catch on to so that the limbs start to burn quickly.

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Chop into each half of the wood to create a fuzz effect

Two large fuzz sticks. This technique multiplies the surface area the flames have to catch on to.

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Glorified fuzz sticks

The set up is very simple. I banged one limb into the ground, laid some kindling flat on the ground (the ground was wet) and banged in the other limb. If you were using a wider but smaller log stability would not be such an issue.

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Set up

The support stick was just a twig dug into the ground and jammed up against one of the limbs that I was concerned might fall over.

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Support stick in place if needed and ready to go

I stuffed loads of birch bark and small wood shavings into the gap and lit it.

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Plenty of birch bark as tinder

The kindling went up well but due to the dampness of the log the limbs would not catch fire at first. I had to continually feed the kindling into the burn area and soon ran out without the limbs catching fire.

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Instant flame

The bottom of the limbs had caught fire but would not self sustain.

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Everything was damp so hard to keep going

Plan B was to get a dry log from inside my house (one that had been intended for our open fire), split it and place the dry kindling in a vertical position instead of a horizontal lay. This totally transformed the candle.

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Added dry kindling in a vertical position

In no time the candle was lit the whole way up both limbs.

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Took off well

From the point when I added the vertical kindling the pot took less than ten minutes to boil.

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Boiling water in no time

Happy to get my brew.

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Usual Brewage

I let the kindling burn down to see if the limbs would stay alight but they were still too damp.

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A continual battle with the damp wood

Here you can see the area on the top where the moisture was being boiled out.

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Boiling wood

About 30 minutes after the start of the fire the logs finally started to burn on their own. Got quite a nice fire face out of it as well.

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Baby dragon fire face

I added the last of my damp tinder and kindling and the limbs finally started burning freely.

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Final Flames

I found this candle a real challenge to keep going but that is not because the concept is wrong, but because this type of candle needs to have really dry wood to work well.

I am sure that when I try this again with dry wood it will go like a rocket. It is such an simple and effective method and I wish I had been making this type of candle years ago.

I have written six articles on different candles so if anyone has ideas on other candle types please leave a comment on their idea below.

Cheers

George

Perkele’s post on the Raappanan tuli candle

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