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Thread: Char Cloth Problems

  1. #1

    Thumbs down Char Cloth Problems

    Ok... so I place the cotton buds into the tin (travel sweet tin, the same as boot polish tins) poke a small hole with the tip of my knife in the top of it then put it on the fire and it starts to smoke. Then the cotton ignites, it shouldn't do that right? So I just leave it till the smoke and flames stop. I take it out, let it cool, then open the tin and put sparks on them. I put them back in the tin (still glowing) that had a small air hole in and after a few minutes I checked on it and they were no longer smoldering, and help no sparks at all. Why is this? I would appreciate the help, this is a good method of keeping embers glowing.


  2. #2
    Member tfisher's Avatar
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    sounds like to much air
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  3. #3
    Loner Gray Wolf's Avatar
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    Here are 2 ways from other members (I find they both work well)

    From Bowcatz

    I make a charcloth oven from two tin cans. One is a soup can (small) and the other is a vegetable can (a little bit larger). I drilled a small hole (1/8") in the bottom of the smaller can. This opening will be pointing up when the oven is in use.

    I put the 1 inch by 2 inch pieces of 100 percent cotton t-shirt into the smaller can and turn it over and put in inside the larger can. It is critical that the cans are set up so the small can is inside the larger can and the hole in the bottom of the smaller can is pointing up so the smoke can escape. I set it on the fire source.

    When the smoking from the small hole has stopped and the occasional flames out the top, too, I know the cloth has charred. I pull it out of the fire and set it to the side to cool.

    Don't open the can till you can pick it up with bare fingers. If it feels too warm, leave it alone a little longer to cool further. If the pieces of cloth are entirely black, it's done. If there is a hint of brown to the cloth, put the cloth back in the small can and put the small can down inside the larger can and put back on the fire for another fifteen minutes.

    I've noticed that 100 percent cotton t-shirts (thin fabric) ignite easier with smaller sparks than thicker fabric like denim jeans. The thicker charcloth burns hotter, but you'll need a hotter spark source to make it ignite. I use a steel made from an old file that casts small, but numerous sparks, so I use the thinner charcloth with it. My magnesium bar with the manmade flint casts very heavy sparks and when used with natural flint, sets the heavy fabric charcloth to burning easily.

    Once the charcloth is ignited, place it in the center of your tinder bundle and fold the tinder bundle around it. Blow gently at first on the charcloth to create a larger burning ember to ignite the tinder bundle. Blow as hard as necessary to ignite the tinder bundle once the charcloth is glowing brighter from the gentler breaths. When the tinder bundle is flaming, place it under a pile of dried sticks to start the beginnings of your campfire. You can use the burning tinder method to light reed-bundle torches, too.

    From FVR

    Altoids cans with a little pin hole through the top. Cut up a t shirt into little squares and put them into the altoids can. Stick the can into the fire, leave until you don't see any smoke coming out of the teeny hole. Needs to be a teeny hole. Pull out and let cool.
    "A person is not finished when they are defeated.
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  4. #4

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    I think the hole was maybe too big, I made a slit in the top with my knife and the char cloth ignited when it was in the tin. But when I took it out it was still totally black and help sparks, but the sparks only held for a few minutes.

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    Holes too big. You just need a pin prick hole.

  6. #6
    Voyageur enseignant
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    Bladesypher ... May I ask; are you attempting to carry an ember with your char cloth? It sounds as if you are getting the correct result from the tin you are using (The smoke leaving the container will ignite, but the cloth inside the tin becomes charcoal-like). The char cloth you have as a result will catch a spark from flint and steel and smoulder long enough to ignite dry grass or other small flammables, but it is not a good long-term carrier of an ember. What you want for this is a type of fungus that I am not sure grows in the UK. Likely you have a good substitute ... maybe someone else on this forum knows of one. Hope I'm being helpful! NorthWind

  7. #7
    Administrator Rick's Avatar
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    For those of you that live off the grid, what do you use for char cloth? I have to imagine you start plenty of fires so using cotton for char cloth would mean packing a bunch in just for that. Surely, you're using something else.

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    Senior Member Smok's Avatar
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    Cattail heads ,ceder bark, hair, fathers any fibrous plant

  9. #9

    Lightbulb Char Cloth

    I use the burlap sacks from the flour, sugar, beans, etc. to make my char cloth. One 50# sack lasts a looooong time. I make my char cloth pieces 2"x2", and it makes excellent char cloth!
    Everything I have posted is pure fantasy. I have not done any of the things that I have claimed to have done in my posts. I actually live in Detroit.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Jay's Avatar
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    I use the cotton from the Kapok tree.(lat: Ceiba pentandra) pick the pod as it ripens and throw it on the open flames. when it bursts open its ready. I carry one or two with me. We donít have flint here and I use a variety of quartz and other stones. The striker is a bit of hacksaw blade. The traditional "C" shaped striker (called Gini Katuwa) can be ordered from the blacksmith although some of the new breed smiths donít know what I'm talking about. Down feathers from an old birds nest, also can be used but they are difficult to light. The inner bark of some trees can also be scraped in to a fluff and used. the best one I know of is Pterospermum suberifolium
    I have also made char cloth in a tin, and agree that the hole should be just a pin prick.
    Roll the cloth loosely like a bandage. if you fold it only the outer layers will burn.
    hope this is of interest.
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  11. #11
    Administrator Rick's Avatar
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    I don't make char cloth very often. I have always used something a bit more modern like cotton and vasoline or wet fire tinder. Moreover, I had never used the soup and vegetable can method Gray Wolf described above. Soooo, this morning seemed like the perfect time to learn a new skill. I followed his directions and had a nice pile of char cloth in no time at all. A couple of benefits I see to this method over something like an Altoids tin.

    1. You make more char cloth at one time because the can is larger.
    2. Because the can is larger it is a bit easier to handle when hot.

    The amount of cloth I made stuffed into an Altoids tin for storage with no trouble after it had cooled. I already had a fire going but I had to play with it a little bit. Steel match and knife had my tinder ablaze in seconds using some of the freshly made vege/soup char cloth.

    Thanks, Gray Wolf, for taking the time to post the information. One more option I now have available.

  12. #12
    Loner Gray Wolf's Avatar
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    How was the vege/soup?

    As I'm sure a lot of us do, we bring or gather many different types of firestarters and are always searching for new ones. With the char cloth, I always carry a little. I use old film containers which are waterproof, small and lite. You can get them for free from places that develop film, they just throw them away.
    "A person is not finished when they are defeated.
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  13. #13
    Administrator Rick's Avatar
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    Well. There's another one. I didn't realize they just chucked the film containers. I never really thought about it. I always save my 35mm cans but I'll be hitting the 1 hour spots now.

  14. #14

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    I use blue jean material, it sucks when you wear it in the woods anyways. Use an Altoid tin with pinhole poked in, after white smoke turns black, you have finished. Cover up hole, pull off of fire, and let it sit. I usually keep char cloth in a film can or pill bottle.

  15. #15
    Senior Member randyt's Avatar
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    When I make my char cloth I use a metal container about the size of a chew can with a small hole poked in the lid, maybe a 1/16 of an inch. I lay this can which is full of denim squares on top of a fire. when the smoke comes out at a fair clip, I pull the can out to cool. During the cool down I lay a small stone over the smoke hole in the lid to keep it sealed.

    For a natural alternative punk taken and charred. Interestingly I was burning a brush pile and notices a close by punky stump smoldering. I went to put it out, no amount of stomping would extinguish it. It was just a few spots the size of a dime. I went and got a bucket of water and dowsed it. After that I figured if I was short on cotton cloth, punk would surely do.

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    I use surplus gun cleaning patches that are cotton, .30 cal. They are perfect size and super low cost at Army-Navy stores, $2.00 for 500 patches.

    Same here, altoid or other throat sucker tin. Poke ONE hole in the top with a aluminum push tack. Place on fire, wait til smoke clears, open tin to cool, check a piece of the cloth for spark taking. If ok, close tin and keep in baggie or sealed in wax paper.

    When sparking the cloth, do not over do it....a good single spark should start and ember that will last about 5 minutes, more than long enough to get a real fire going with dried grass, moss, tinder of some kind.

    You have to keep blowing on the ember while it is touching the tinder material.... you will get a lot of smoke... turn head away when taking a breath in and blow directly on the ember, all of a sudden a flame will poof up... have more tinder and progressive sized fuel for the fire.

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    Administrator Rick's Avatar
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    Ya'll realize this is a 3 year old thread, right? Hopefully, he's figured it out by now.

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