Whilst paracord is an easy addition to our kits for when it comes to setting up shelter, the same can be achieved from natural materials such as the stinging nettle.
Stinging Nettles are easily to identify and most importantly they are abundant just about everywhere, especially wild or neglected places. The stems of the stinging nettle are usually quite thin, but strong.
Making Cord from Nettles
The best time to make nettle cordage is in the latter stages of summer, when nettles become tall and thin and have strong stems. You want to try and pick those that are as straight as possible as any kinks present weak points.
- Grasp the nettle and cut it as close to the ground as possible.
- Remove the leaves and hairs from the stem until you are left with a smooth nettle stem.
- Lightly crush the stem but try not to damage the outer fibres as this will become your string.
- Split the stem and open with your fingers.
- You will notice that the inner part of the nettle is very woody. Bend the nettle stem over your index finger so that the inner stem snaps outwards, this needs to be removed.
- You will then be left with the fibres (skin) from the nettle.
- Leave these fibres to air-dry. If they become too dry, you may need to soak them in a little water later on or they can become brittle and papery.
- Strip a thin strand from the larger tape-like piece of outer stem.
- Find the midway point and roll each strand independently from each other. Each time you get to the end of the rolling process, let go with your left hand and the natural properties of the nettle will allow it to braid. Repeat this process as many times as needed.
- Extra fibres may be added within the cordage easily, just insert another length and use the same technique described above.
To see the method in action, check out the following video by Ray Mears.