Making charred cottonwool for fire lighting.

Discussion in 'Bushcraft' started by sticks65, Jun 8, 2010.

  1. sticks65

    sticks65 Monkey++

    Char cloth is a very old form of tinder made from 100% cotton,basically you are making a form of charcoal with cotton.

    You can use anything that is 100% cotton from an old pair of jeans to and old T shirt.

    I used cotton wool which I find takes a spark from steel and flint very easily.

    So here's how I made char cloth using cotton wool.

    Firstly you will need a small metal tin that has a lid,it should be a good fitting lid so that it is near enough air tight,you will need to put a small hole in the lid so that the gases can escape.

    The tin I used is an old air rifle pellet tin.
    As you can see from the photo there is a hole in the lid.

    Now you need to loosely place your strips of cloth into the tin.​

    Place the lid tightly on the tin and place it over the fire.
    Now keep an eye on it,smoke will start to come out of the hole,this is normal.

    After a short time a flame will start to come out of the hole,that is a good sign that your cotton is turning into char cloth.
    I let the flame burn for at least a couple of minutes.

    Now you will need gloves and a small wooden peg to plug your hole up.
    Take the tin off of the flame and plug the hole,this stops the oxygen from letting the cloth continue to burn.
    Now leave the tin to cool.
    I used a tent peg as my plug as it makes it easier to lift from the fire.​

    When the tin is cool take the lid off and you will have char cloth.
    If the cloth is not charred enough or just one side is charred turn it over and loosen it up then repeat the whole process again.​

    This is what it should look like when you have finished.​

    Now all you have to do is try your char cloth out.​

    Heres my tinder box which contains flint and steel,jute twine and Amadou.

    So now to test the char cloth out.
    Preparation is the key to fire lighting with flint and steel.
    Here I have prepared the jute twine by unraveling it,pulling it apart and fluffing it up into a tinder nest.
    I also have my flint and steel ready and my char cloth.​

    I pinch the char cloth between my thumb and the flint and make downward strikes onto the flint with the steel which shaves tiny fragments of hot steel onto the char cloth.​

    Once you have gotten a spark to land on the char cloth gently blow on it to spread the glowing ember.​

    Now take your ember and place it into your tinder nest and gently blow on it until it bursts into flame.​

    Now remember Preparation is the key to good fire management.​

    Before I even attempted to strike steel on flint I make sure I have my char cloth and jute at hand.​

    I also have at least this much kindling and wood cut.​

    From top left of the picture I have birch bark ready to add to my burning tinder,1" pieces of kindling and then slowly build up my fire in steps.
    I don't need a big fire to cook on or keep warm so I have no need to have any wood bigger than the largest wood in the picture.​

    You will also need basic tools for your fire management.​

    These are the tools I use.
    Tinder box and char cloth tin,hatchet,folding saw and fixed blade knife.​

    For this post I didn't need to use the hatchet but I would always advise to take a hatchet or small axe .​

    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 14, 2013
    kellory likes this.
  2. gunbunny

    gunbunny Never Trust A Bunny

    Thanks, Sticks; I think I see my problem now. I don't hold my tinder on the flint- I strike the flint and shoot sparks a few inches away. It must be too much of a gap to jump as I could never get the darn thing to catch a spark. Also, it was too hard for me to direct the sparks with enough accuracy. I'll give that a try next time.
  3. Bear

    Bear Monkey+++ Founding Member Iron Monkey

    Great tutorial...

    Yup... Sticks' method works the best for me...
    Makes sense too... hold the char on the flint... and strike the flint with the steel...
    That spark doesn't need to travel that far and I get a glow alot faster and easier...

    Good stuff
  4. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    Hm. Might have to try all this. My fire starting method these days is a trigger lit Bernz-O-Matic. Man, is that a fast way to get things going. Hard to stuff in a pocket, tho' ------.

    'Sfunny, all this about flint and steel, bow drills etc. over the last month or so, and I just this minute remembered I have the stuff from very long ago. I think I need some practice.
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