Char cloth is a simple yet essential part of any Bushcraft fire lighting kit. all it is is baked cotton but will catch a spark with ease from a ferro rod or flint and steel.
Making Char Cloth
Making Char Cloth is easy, inexpensive and doesn’t take that long. Myself and JM one of our students at Running Deer School, decided to make some the first day back after Christmas so I decided to put together this blog so those who want can give it a go.
You don’t need a lot of equipment to make char cloth. you will need a metal tin, make sure it has no plastic bits on it and seals well, a travel sweet tin is ideal. you will also need some cotton cloth. it is important that the cloth you are using is one hundred percent cotton or it won’t work, old clothing is perfect. You will also need to light a fire so you can bake your cotton.
Once you have your fire lit you need to start preparing your equipment. Using a big nail and hammer you need to put a hole in the lid of your tin. This is so the fumes from the baking process can escape. the hole should be big enough to fit the nib of a pen in but you shouldn’t be able to push the pen all the way through.
If the hole is to big it will let oxygen in and will burn the cloth rather than bake it. once your tin is prepared using scissors or a knife cut your cloth into the desired size. Squares are normally the easiest.
Place these neatly in the tin so it bakes evenly. I usually half fill the tin, the more you put in the longer it will take to bake.
Once you have filled your tin with the cloth put the lid on and make sure it is secure, then place the tin on the fire making sure you can see the hole in the lid. after a few seconds you should see smoke coming out of the hole this is normal and is just the gas escaping from the baking process.
Sometimes this gas can ignite creating a roman candle affect this is nothing to worry about. Once the smoke has stopped coming out of the hole using tongues take the tin off the fire. (THE TIN WILL BE VERY HOT TAKE CARE).
Place your tin on a non combustible surface for it to cool down completely. If you open the tin before it is completely cool you run the risk of letting oxygen in and igniting your char cloth, (I have made this mistake once or twice).
When you open your tin the cloth should be a deep black colour, you should still be able to see the weave of the cloth and the pieces should pull apart easily.
Myself and JM had a fantastic time making our char cloth and makes an invaluable addition to our fire lighting kits.