Originally published April 25 2015
Char cloth makes starting fires quick and easy - here's how to make it
by Daniel Barker
(NaturalNews) The ability to start, build and maintain a fire outdoors in difficult conditions is a crucial survival skill every prepper should possess. In certain situations, being able to build a fire could mean the difference between life and death.
Starting a fire in the wild is often a matter of simply picking an ideal spot, gathering available flammable materials, arranging them appropriately and applying a flame or spark to the tinder. It doesn't take a lot of training or practice to learn how to build a fire in ideal conditions.
However, seasoned survivalists know that it's not always so easy to get a fire started in cold, wet or windy weather. When packing a wilderness survival kit or bug out bag, you should include several means of creating a spark or flame, such as a flint and steel, fire piston, waterproof matches or lighter.
Even in challenging conditions, it's possible to build a fireA good ignition source is key, but it's just one of the components of fire building. The essential elements of building a fire also include having tinder, kindling and fuel wood on hand.
Tinder is the important bridge between the ignition source and the kindling. Kindling typically includes small sticks or wood shavings and can sometimes be difficult to ignite. Tinder is the method for holding the spark or flame long enough to ignite the kindling, which in turn will ignite the larger pieces of fuel wood.
Common materials used for tinder include dried grass, leaves, moss -- basically anything that easily catches a spark and burns for at least several seconds. You can also make and carry your own tinder in the event you're in a situation where grass and leaves are not available or are too wet to catch fire.
Turn ordinary fabric into tinderOne easy way to obtain a useful amount of tinder is to make your own char cloth.
Char cloth is simply an organic fiber (such as cotton cloth) that has been converted into an easy-to-light and relatively slow-burning fuel through a process called pyrolysis. The process involves heating the selected material sufficiently enough to change its composition. This is done by creating an oxygen-free environment in which the material is heated, preventing it from bursting into flame.
Converting the material involves complicated physical reactions, but achieving the desired effect is simple. For instance, you can turn ordinary fabric, such as denim or linen, into high-quality char cloth with nothing more than a metal container (such as a coffee can or small tin can) and a heat source.
Simple steps to make char cloth Here's how to easily make your own char cloth.
With reliable ignition sources and some char cloth as a supplement to your portable tinder bundle, the fire-building components of your bug out bag will be complete and should allow you to build a fire in less than ideal conditions.
- Choose a relatively air-tight, small metal container (one that you don't mind drilling a hole into and subjecting to high temperatures).
- Drill or poke a small hole in the lid. If it doesn't have a lid, use aluminum foil.
- Fill the container with whatever natural fiber cloth you have on hand such as a handkerchief, patch of denim or piece of linen tablecloth.
- Secure the container with a metal vise or clamp (or use a grill or other heating surface) and heat with a direct flame or strong heat source until all the gases finish escaping through the hole. The gases will form a stream of visible smoke; once there is no more smoke, the process is finished. At this point, simply turn the tin over and let it cool.
- Once the container has thoroughly cooled, remove the finished product and pack it in with your other tinder materials. Keep in mind that char cloth alone burns fairly rapidly, so your tinder bundle should also contain other tinder that burns a bit more slowly.
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