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Making Char Cloth

Char cloth is a simple tool used by many who enjoy the use of flint and steel fire making. The charred cloth readily receives sparks from flints and steel or ferro rods. It is then placed in a tinder bundle and blown into flames. Char cloth is natural material that is created through a process known as pyrolysis, meaning it is burned without oxygen to produce a carbonized piece of material.

What you need:

100% cotton cloth (In this case I used an old t-shirt)
a metal tin (Altoids tins work great)
cutting tools (scissors and/or knife)
a fire

Take the metal tin and poke a hole in the middle. This is where gases will escape from when you place the materials in the fire.

Cut up the 100% cotton material into about one inch x one inch squares

Place the cloth loosely in the tin. If they are packed too tight, they may not burn properly or may burn too much.

Close the tin and place it in a fire. It doesn’t take too much heat or too long to produce results.

The gases expelled through the hole in the middle may ignite, this is fine.

After the gases are no longer coming out, which you will know as they are visible and tend to ignite, remove the tin from the fire and allow it to cool. This entire process doesn’t take very long, perhaps ten minutes plus time for the tin to cool off. When the tin is opened, a black and fragile material should be inside. This material is known as char cloth.

Char cloth readily takes a spark and allows the transfer of a coal to a tinder bundle and be blown into flame.

About Bruce Pandoff

Bruce Pandoff
I live in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. I am a wildland firefighter, wilderness medical first responder, and attended NMU for environmental conservation.I much enjoy practicing primitive skills, researching ancient societies and cultures, and focus a lot of time and energy on studying plants and fungi.