Wilderness Survival: Char Cloth

Posted: April 16, 2012 in Wilderness Survival

Char clothe is a great thing to have in your bug out bag, or just out hiking.  It is extremely flammable and works wonderful with a magnesium or flint rod.


From the Practicalsurvivor.com


The charring process occurs when a material such as cotton is chemically decomposed by heating. The process is called pyrolysis.


Materials needed:
* Cloth (T-shirt, < Handkerchief, Bandana)
* Scissors or knife
* Tin can (coffee can, Altoids can, shoe polish can, band aid can)
* Tool to punch a small hole on the tin lid. (nail, Phillips screwdriver,

First we cut square pieces from a cotton t-shirt. Other materials can be used such as paper and wood.

If using an opened can, we seal the can using aluminum foil. If the can has a lid and can be sealed, make a small hole on the lid. The nail is used to punch a small hole in the lid. The hole will allow the smoke to escape while we char the cloth.

We want to create a bed of coals. As a fire method we use a tepee fire. Tepee fire does not take much maintenance if built properly. (a camp stove can be used)

After placing the cloth into the tin, we placed the container on the coals.

Slowly smoke will begin to escape through the hole in the lid. The important part is to watch it as it smokes. Once the smokes stops, we turn over the tin.

Smoke will begin once again to release from the tin. Once the smoke stopped we removed the tin from the coals. We leave the tin closed until it cools down.

If the texture is correct the material should stay together when you handle it. The cloth is black and is now ready to use for tinder.

At this point we want to test the Char cloth. We use the flint rod from a magnesium block. Below the spark lands on the charred cloth and continues to expand on the material. The great thing about char cloth as tinder is that it continues to burn for minutes.

We placed the charred cloth on the tinder nest. Wrapping the tinder around the charred cloth, we blow air on it slowly and steady. As the tinder heats up, we blow harder to increase the temperature until ignition.

Char cloth has been used for centuries for primitive fire starting. Once the cloth has been made, its a good idea to seal it in an air tight container.






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