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Thursday, 20 February 2014

How to Make Charcloth

Being able to light a fire is an essential bushcraft skill and to give you the best chance of getting a fire lit with your basic bushcraft tools you will need tinder that will catch the smallest of sparks.
The catch is: tinder burns so you need to constantly be on the lookout for more or be able to make it. Char cloth is the answer, if you can make it you will always have a ready supply of easily combustible tinder. Charcloth is made using the same principle as charcoal, instead of excluding oxygen from burning wood we do it with cloth instead. The cloth you need should be 100% cotton although you could also use linen or other fabrics made from vegetable matter, old shirts, dish cloths, jeans etc.. all make a good starting point.

First take your piece of material and put it in a fireproof container, on a small scale you could use an old boot polish tin or Vaseline tin or on a larger scale a biscuit tin.

Now place your container on the fire, when producing char cloth on a small scale you can pierce a hole in the lid of your container and fit it tightly, you can later seal this hole with a pointed stick to exclude the oxygen. With larger containers which may not have a fireproof lid you can seal them using a stone or in this case the lid of a Dutch oven. 

The larger the piece of material and the more tightly it is packed in it's container the longer it will take to char the whole piece. Once you think it has been long enough, when producing small amounts of char cloth this only needs to be a minute or two on a hot fire, don't make the mistake of immediately removing the lid as while it is still hot if oxygen reaches it it will immediately begin to glow and burn. Allow the container and it's contents to cool completely. Once it is cool you can remove it and store it in a dry place until you need it. 

Char cloth will light from the smallest of sparks, you can use an identical procedure to char cat tail down and other natural resources to aid your fire lighting. 

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