Monday, June 9, 2014

Preparing For The Next Fire- Char Cloth

Preparing For The Next Fire- Char Cloth 

Once you make a make a fire and are limited on resources for your next fire it is important to think of a way you can either carry a coal with you to your next location or have a easy medium to start your next fire with (in the absence of a a ferro rod, lighter, etc.). The traditional medium for fire starting is char cloth which you can easily get an ember from flint and steel, ferro rods, magnification, or an empty Bic lighter.  There are three ways in which I have made charred material in the past and will cover those here, but will concentrate mostly on making char cloth. The three methods covered with be 1) Char cloth in a metal container, 2) Char Cloth without a metal container, 3) Charred material without a container.

1) Char Cloth With A Metal Container

1) Get a metal container and poke a small hole in the lid with a small nail (to allow gas to escape)
2) Gather up 100% Cotton material to use to make the charred material (t-shirts seem to work the best). Once gathered, cut your cotton materials into patches which are roughly 3/4 the size of your altoids container and enough to fill the container most of the way up (you tend to get better material with a full container).

3) Place cotton material in your metal container and go about preparing your fire
4) Get a fire that is down to mostly coals and limited flame and place your container on the coals avoiding excessive flame on the container. 
5) Allow the material to cook for 15 or so minutes if on just a bed of coals, if higher flame check more often. A limited amount of flame coming out of the container is normal; however, if the flame stays for more than 30 seconds I tend to snuff it out by placing the blade of my knife over the containers hole until the fire goes out.

6) Once done the char cloth should look like the above pictures, if you notice a light or dark brown color in the material the cloth needs to go back on the fire for a little longer (try 5 more minutes with coals).
7) Char cloth once ignited from one of the aforementioned sources should look like above when you blow on it.


1) Obtain and cut your 100% cotton material as stated above
2) Light a fire over loose soil and super heat the ground (15-20 minutes of a decent fire minimum)
3) Move your fire back and dig a narrow hole 
4) Place your cotton material into the hole and recover dirt
5) Pull the fire back over the hole and allow the material to cook for 20-30 minutes
6) Once complete the material should look like the above (this batch took over an hour with this small fire, a more robust fire is a must have for this type of char cloth. 
7) Char cloth once ignited from one of the aforementioned sources should look like above when you blow on it. 

Containerless Charred Material:

1) If you don’t have a metal container or cotton with you, don’t give up on charred material. There are two different ways you can still produce some char cloth without the metal container. First, just light a tinder bundle of bark fiber, cattail down, or any other soft and fluffy plant material.
2) Snuff it out by stepping on it gently and holding your foot there for a minute. Keep the tinder bundle, as it will have black char scattered throughout the fiber. You can use your ignition source at any time to re-light the char, thus lighting the tinder.

As always if you have any questions leave them in the comments and I will answer them as soon as possible.

1 comment:

  1. After taking the material off the fire be sure to let it sit for 10-15 minutes to "rest". This allows the material to cool from its ignition temprature and will prevent all of your hard work from literally going up in flames when you open the metal container lid and rapidly introduce oxygen.