Survival Skills: Make Your own Char Cloth

Nothing changes your morale and your options in a survival scenario like starting a fire.

And in bad weather conditions, you may need every fire starting trick in the book. Since tinder is the “baby food” for all newborn fires, it makes sense that you should have some good stuff on hand. And whether you’re using old fashioned flint and steel, modern spark rods, or even a magnifying glass, your first tinder needs to be the best – like char cloth.

Since tinder is the “baby food” for all newborn fires, your first tinder needs to be the best – like char cloth.
Since tinder is the “baby food” for all newborn fires,
your first tinder needs to be the best – like char cloth.

Making this charred cloth material uses a process called pyrolysis (burning without oxygen) to turn ordinary cloth into a fire starter that’s great to use with most ignition methods. Here’s how you can do it.

Step 1
Make a small hole in the top of a tin that closes tightly.

Step 2
Fill the tin with scraps of cotton cloth (it needs to be all natural; no synthetic fibers).

Step 3
Place your container in the coals of a fire. Smoke should start streaming steadily out of the box’s vent hole.

Step 4
When it stops smoking, pull the tin off of the coals. The resulting cloth should be all black and have a silky texture but not fall apart. Now you have tinder that you can carry with you until you need it for fire starting in almost any situation.

Step 5
When you need tinder, pull the char cloth out and strike sparks onto it. You could also concentrate sunlight through a magnifying lens onto the char cloth. Once lit, it should burn slowly and steadily.

Step 6
Use the cloth to ignite your larger bundle of tinder.

Shop Sportsman’s Guide for a fine selection of Emergency Gear!

This tip, and 337 more survival tips, are in MacWelch’s new book Prepare For Anything. This latest Outdoor Life survival manual available at Amazon.

Follow him on Twitter @timmacwelch  And check out more of MacWelch’s outdoor skills and survival articles in Outdoor Life Magazine.

 

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