div#imagecontainer { background-size:cover !important; padding-top:16.53%; } onresize="OnResizeDocument()" >

Cooking on A Log: Failure

Log Cooking

Log Cooking


I’m sure many of you have seen this picture floating around the web. A log burning with a cast iron skillet cooking on top. Yeah I’ve liked that picture on Facebook. I though the idea was pretty sweet. It had a primitive feel that I liked. In the picture though they use a chainsaw. Definitely not primitive. I don’t know about you but I don’t often carry chainsaws into the woods with me. In fact due to my left handed paranoia I avoid them. So I set off on a hike yesterday to see if I could reproduce the results with items I normally carry in my pack. Here are the results.

I set off on the trail with my Buck Hoodlum, Fiskars Folding Saw, Winchester pocket chainsaw, cast iron skillet and bacon. I figured I could just baton the log to create the same effect as the chainsaw without much more energy. After wandering off trail I found a good standing dead tree. Since It had been raining all week this was my driest choice.

Dead Tree

Dead Tree

I got out the pocket chainsaw and went to work. And work…This was a hard tree and I worked up a mighty sweat. It took a while to get through it and I ended up just pushing it over at the end because it kept getting bound up.

Downed Tree

Downed Tree

Once I had the tree down I needed to cut it down to the appropriate length. I started out trying the pocket chainsaw and it sucked. The log rolled around too much. Between trying to keep it steady and keep the right angel on the pocket chainsaw I got fed up. I switched to the folding saw. Which also sucked mostly because It cuts slower. I ended up snapping this one too.

Snapped Log

Snapped Log

After snapping the log I had too much wood left at the top to put the skillet on. Tired of sawing I used the Hoodlum and chopped it off. This went much faster. Just a few chops and I was done.

Standing Log

Standing Log

At this point I tested that my log would stand  up. It basically stood up and stood with the skillet as well. This is where things start to go wrong. At this point I’m probably thirty minutes into this project and am exhausted. My plan was to baton the wood partly down leaving room to stuff it and burn some tinder. Have you ever tried a partial battoning? How did it go?  Battoning is a pretty un-precise thing. The wood splits how and when it wants. I ended up with a completely split log. Still I tried to get the pieces to stand and burn. The pieces did not want to line back up right. It fell over at a slight breeze. I tried wedging it between some others logs. I looked for rocks. I thought about using cordage to bind it. Then realized it would just burn.


After spending an hour fooling with this trying to get some bacon I said screw it. Even If I could make it work it is a huge calorie sink. This would only be something to do at home, with a chainsaw and only because It LOOKS cook. This is not at all a practical method of cooking. Not only would you need to backpack in a chainsaw. You would need a heavy duty skillet. Neither things I want to carry in a pack. You would be better served it a camping stove. Hell you would be better off cooking over a normal fire than this. This is why I like to try things I see in the internet. Some people will see or hear something and just believe it. There are a million “Survival” myths and I would count trying to cook this way in any situation than your backyard for fun as one. I encourage everyone to go try what they see and read instead of taking it for granted.

What survival myths have you heard that are B.S? Let me know in the comments.


If you would like to support Survivalpunk check out today’s featured sponsor. Check out Dan’s Depot for fully loaded Bug Out Bags and Wilderness instruction DVD’s.



11 comments to Cooking on A Log: Failure

  • I wouldn’t call this a failure…I’d call this a non-survival project. If you are cutting firewood with a chainsaw already, I’d make some ahead of time and set them aside…might even be a small-scale side business! How much would you pat for one at a campsite to show off? 🙂

    Another option, since you found a standing dead tree, cut off the tree kind of high, say waist level, then using the pocket chainsaw, cut the vertical slits on the stump as it stands. If you wanted, after making the vertical cuts, then cut it to length, or just start your fire right where it is.

    But I’ll agree it’s NOT a preferred method in a survival situation… that’s why I carry my Emberlit stove…

    Great write up, btw!

  • Paul

    Yeah dude, impractical survival technique in the field. I have arborist friends that use this method for cooking up lunch when out in the boonies but of course they are armed with chainsaws and vehicles to carry cooking gear. I made a log like this a couple weeks ago but it went to the woodpile for my next car camping trip, I am not packing that thing around on my back! Video of the ordeal here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7plZzBHeDdI&feature=share&list=UUQ51mn3lFHIyMYxX74ViCPg

  • Casey bradshaw

    I have done the swedish torch method your talking about i dont split it all the way down. Just split 3/4 and wedge smaller wood in between to keep it spread apart and PACK it with kindleing kind of a challenge to get it burning at first you have to be on your toes. Once it starts burning your home free. Ive used this method several times for a quick 1 log fire for lunch on the trail.

  • Andrew "FTE"

    Yeah, I saw the photos the other day and thought, “Man, Martha Stewart has just got too damned much time on her hands!” It’s cute and clever and 99.8% impractical.

  • D.Gibbsy

    These “cooking logs” are for sale all over the place where I live (Near a Tourist TRAP) and they sell an 8″ birch log for about $10…I do not see this being very handy. If I had a vehicle and chainsaw I was taking into a camping situation it would be a neat conversation starter but that’s about it. Tourists buy them and I have laughed watching them try to light them with the cut side down. Then soon enough the pan falls off as one side starts burning through. Aside from a laugh…not very useful in a survival situation where you REALLY needed to survive. I’ve had better luck cooking a small chicken in a backpack with tinfoil, hot campfire rocks, and newspaper for a heat blocker against my back…heavy but it worked after 4-5hrs… Just one of those things that you can say you have tried!

      • D.Gibbsy

        I wish I could find the link to the video about cooking a whole chicken in a backpack. I can’t claim it as my idea, I just tried it. The gist of it is: Take the equivalent of 2 sunday newspapers, and line the inside of the backpack all around – very thick towards the part that will touch your back. Then line it with a tin foil blocker.Newspaper helps hold the heat in as well as protect your body from cooking along with the bird! Make a pouch out of tin foil for a small chicken 4-5lbs tops as it takes about an hour to cook per pound. Make sure that the bag isn’t going to leak! After your camp fire has died down carefully get a few smaller rocks,3″-4″round X 1″-2″thick, river rocks work best (NOT GLOWING RED) but HOT rocks 375-400degrees(guess)If they sizzle when a drop of water falls on it that’s the rock you want. I kicked them out onto the tinfoil because I didn’t have hot mitts, but a camp shovel will work to grab them(thought of that after the fact) Grab the edges of the foil curl it over the rocks so you have a small handle to grab and move them. You have to put 1 inside the chicken cavity(largest rock) 2 if they’re small. then tuck one rock next to each wing and leg, add a rock near the neck, one over the breasts. Add your spices/oil to the chicken, close the foil pouch bag. Then re-wrap the chicken again with more foil just as precaution for grease leaks.Place it flat against the thick newspaper backing once it is double sealed. Cover it with more newspaper. Last thing you want is to be covered in hot chicken grease while walking through the woods…You’re just asking to be a mountain lion or bear snack if you are leaving a greasy trail for them to follow! I did this on a cold weather hike. It is heavy, but it kept me warm. Since I carried our cooking dinner someone else carried some of my gear. Perfect to share with other hikers at checkpoints through the trail (we did this on the Pocono-Appalachian trail) This was for the first day dinner on a 3 day, one way hike up and over the mountain. I could see doing this and leaving it to cook at your campsite (tied up in a tree) if you were going to return there later. Also a great trick for a survival situation if you kill a wild bird, quail, phesant,squirrel, rabbit, etc and have to keep moving while cooking. After the bird is cooked and eaten you can also use the newspaper to start the next campfire, and the tinfoil from the outer wrapping that isn’t dirty can be used to cook on again or wrap leftovers. I’ll keep looking for the video and send a link if I find it. Might be fun to try and share with your bloggers!

  • D.Gibbsy

    It’s not the video I wanted to find and share, but it gives some specifics that I may have missed: http://www.ehow.com/how_8570758_cook-hot-rocks-backpack-hiking.html – How to cook chicken using hot rocks in a backpack…From experience, use more foil, newspaper, and rocks then they tell you to use…don’t want your food undercooked, and you don’t want your back burning while you hike!

  • Im definitely going to be trying this. Thanks for letting me know about this.

  • Stevenr.f.


    This is a much more effective way to make a fire log you can cook over that involves bushcraft skills rather than chain saws.

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>