How to Make Char Cloth in a Tin

How to Make Char Cloth in a Tin

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There are many reasons as to why fire is an essential part of our survival. The most obvious being warmth and the ability to boil water. But there are so many more benefits than just these.

Benefits of Fire

Some of the best benefits that come with the ability to start a fire include:

  • Warmth – in a survival situation, fire can give you the needed warmth until help arrives.
  • Light – a fire can provide you with enough light to carry out any important tasks.
  • Purification – we can never be completely sure that any given source of water is completely safe to drink. Fire will provide you with the chance to boil your water to make it safe.
  • Signal – the ability to get a good fire going can get you rescued. If you are in need of rescue, create a set of three fires which is the universal sign that you need help.
  • Keep predators and insects away – a fire scares most wild creatures and will keep them at a safe distance.
  • Cooking – pretty self-explanatory and cooking over a fire is often simple enough.
  • Morale – starting a fire makes you feel good and it should. It gives you all those great benefits which significantly increases your chance of survival. It makes you comfortable and helps you feel safe and secure.

That being said, fire can be tricky without the right equipment, even more so if you are in a situation in which you are panicking. This is one of the biggest reasons that it is advised that you pack multiple ways of starting a fire in your bag.

One item that should definitely not be overlooked is char cloth. It’s very lightweight, can be made at home, and catches a spark with ease. Check out the video below by the King of Random.

If you believe that a fire is easily done by just directing some sparks to a pile of tinder, then good luck. It isn’t as easy as they make it look in the movies but this is where char cloth comes into play.

What is Char Cloth?

Char cloth is created by combusting an organic material in a way that releases its gasses without burning it up completely. What you are left with has a low ignition temperature — just a single spark or point of heat can start it burning. This can then be added to your tinder to get your fire going.

What You Need to Make Char Cloth

  • Sealable tin can – altoids tins work perfectly but any tin will do.
  • 100% cotton – An old t-shirt, pair of jeans, handkerchief, etc. Make sure that it is 100% cotton though.
  • Scissors
  • Sharp tool – to puncture the tin

How to Make Char Cloth

Start off by cutting your material into small enough pieces that they can fit inside your tin without being rolled up. Place as many as you like inside.

Grab your sharp tool and puncture the lid of the tin. This hole will allow the smoke/gasses out of the tin. Be careful not to make the hole too big as this will let oxygen into the tin, causing the cloth to burn rather than char.

Close the lid and place it on a small fire or a bed of coals. You should start to see smoke escaping from the hole in the lid. If flames appear around it, that’s okay.

Once there is no more smoke being released, turn it over. It will begin to smoke again. Once this smoke has stopped, remove the can from the fire.

The cloth inside should now be black and be semi-rigid. Separate the pieces to let them air for a while before storing them away.

How to Use Char Cloth

It is important to understand that when your char cloth catches a spark, it easily burns, but it shouldn’t flame up. So you can’t put it right into a bunch of kindling.

You instead want to place it into a tinder bundle made from any fibrous and fluffy materials such as dried grasses, lichens, seed heads, and the bark shavings of cedar, birch, poplar, aspen, and cottonwood trees.

Shred your tinder up into stringy fibers and then work them into a nest shape that’s about the size of a softball. You don’t want to pack your nest too tightly or you will restrict the airflow.

If you’re using flint and steel to make your spark, hold the flint in your left hand and your steel striker in your right. Hold a piece of char cloth between your flint and your thumb. You can also put your char cloth directly onto your tinder nest, and direct your sparks onto it.

Gently start to fold the sides of the bundle towards the smoldering char cloth so they touch it, blowing on the char cloth until the tinder flames up.

Let us know in the comments if you have made and used char cloth and share your experience and tips with our readers.

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