Survival Guide: How to Make Char Cloth

  • Posted on: 13 October 2016
  • By: Jim jones
char cloth tin with fire steel

Char cloth, when properly prepared, can ignite with the slightest of sparks and burns very slowly, making it an ideal item to learn how to make and keep in your fire kit. 

Making char cloth is fairly easy. You just need a container to hold the material and keep it from igniting in the fire. 

The char cloth itself can be made from any plant-basted material. A couple squares cut from a cotton(100% cotton) bandana work very well. Other suitable materials would be linen, or jute twine.

The container to hold the char cloth can be an empty Altoids or Band-Aid tin, and in a pinch you can even use your water canteen.

The process to create the char cloth is to expose the material to extreme heat without letting it ignite. This will remove hydrogen and oxygen from the material, so that the remaining char is composed primarily of carbon.

These gasses need to escape the container, but not let the flame from the fire ignite the material. So you will need to puncture a hole in the lid and keep the tin closed. As these gasses are released from the material, smoke, and sometimes a flame with billow out from the hole in the tin. When this smoke is no longer present, the char cloth is ready.

When removing the tin from the fire, take care not to let the tin come open letting the material be exposed to oxygen, or it will likely ignite into flame. Once the tin has cooled, you will have a finished product which will except a spark from a fire steel, sparks off the spine of your hi-carbon steel knife, a magnifying glass, even from a dead lighter or prescription eyeglasses(perhaps) in ideal conditions.

Conclusion: If this information is new to you, give it a try and see how easy it is to manufacture char cloth, and how effective it is at igniting your next birds nest.

There are no good reasons not to utilize this process to simplify fire making. In a survival situation, you will need to exploit every advantage. Make the char cloth while you can and in a tough situation, it may be a life saver.