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Thread: Wet Charred Cloth Experiment

  1. #1
    Member RoadLessTraveled's Avatar
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    Mar 2012
    Suburban Austin TX

    Default Wet Charred Cloth Experiment

    I read a claim that wet charred cloth would catch flint/steel sparks. I thought it would be impossible. So I decided to test the claim. While the charred cloth wouldn't ignite where there was water on it, the water was driven off very quickly, and so it was usable in a very short time after being soaked with water.

    I am surprised how quickly the charred cloth dried to a usable state, particularly that merely dobbing the water out of the cloth made it dry enough to catch the weak sparks of flint(rock) and steel.

    I used a piece of charred cloth that I made using a 100% cotton tee shirt.

    First, I demonstrated the charred cloth is initially good by igniting it with flint/steel sparks.

    Then I submerged the cloth in water several times and tested its ability to form an ember.

    Finally, I submerged the cloth in water, removed it and dobbed it with a napkin, and tested whether it could catch flint/steel sparks.

    Here are my results:

    1) charred cloth that was wet would not ignite by direct flame.
    2) direct flame can dry out the cloth quickly and sufficiently to form an ember
    3) merely dobbing the water out of the cloth dries it sufficiently to catch flint/steel sparks.


    It seems to me that the key is that charred cloth is nearly waterproof. The water beads on it, does not soak into it very quickly or deeply, and dries very quickly.

    Here's the video of my Wet Charred Cloth Experiment:

  2. #2
    Super Moderator crashdive123's Avatar
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    Jan 2008
    North Florida
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    Nice demonstration. Thanks.
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  3. #3
    Administrator Rick's Avatar
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    Nov 2007
    Central Indiana


    I think you'll find the char cloth doesn't absorb water. Since it has been converted to carbon water sits on the surface of the "cloth". All you are doing by applying heat is evaporating the water, which is trying to transfer heat away from the source preventing the carbon from burning. Once the water has evaporated to a point it can no longer transfer heat then the "cloth" ignites. There are probably some minute impurities to account for but solid carbon doesn't absorb water. Carbon gas can be combined with water to form carbonic acid but not solid carbon. Great experiment none-the-less. Nice job.

  4. #4
    Senior Member hunter63's Avatar
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    Jul 2009
    SE/SW Wisconsin


    Nice job.....yeah carbon will not absorb water, or at least with out great I guess it would depend on how charred the cloth is?

    That's why it's very difficult to wash soot out of anything, it just beads the water....I'm talking boiler coils, and inside of heat exchangers.....

    Keep your powder or char cloth ...dry.
    Thanks for the effort.
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  5. #5
    Senior Member
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    Dec 2010
    Long Island, NY


    Hey, try letting the char clothe sit submerged for several hours, or even over night. If it can catch a spark after being just dobbed dry, that's awesome, and confirms its water proof vs water resistant.


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