One of the most important parts of camping is having a warm fire to cook food on and warm up by, and if you are like me, sometimes you have a hard time actually starting the fire. While there are plenty of products you can buy that will help make your next fire much easier to get going, there are also a myriad of great DIY methods. One of the best ways, is Char Cloth, which is cheap and very easy to make!
Having a flint and stone out in the woods can be a huge start to getting a fire started, but from my past experiences, sparks can be a fickle way of starting a fire, so its important to have something that will light on fire at the smallest spark. Thats where Char Cloth comes in. The Art of Manliness says that “Char cloth is created through a process of pyrolysis, which Wikipedia tells us is the ‘thermochemical decomposition of organic material at elevated temperature in the absence of oxygen.’ Basically, char cloth is created by combusting an organic material in a way that releases its gasses without burning it up completely”. This makes a material that will combust at the slightest spark, making it the ideal method of starting a fire in a survival situation.
What you need:
- Altoids mint tin (or any enclosed tin)
- Small pieces of cloth
- An open flame
The first step is to place the cut up pieces of cloth into the tin can as flat as you can ( I placed them in all clumped up and they didn’t char as evenly as they should). Next poke a small hole into the top of the can for the gasses to be released and place into an open flame.
As you can see, I messed up my first batch and had to switch tins, so don’t be scared to mess up, you can always retry. The process of pyrolysis can take anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes, but generally you just want to wait until you cant see any gas coming out of the vent anymore. Once the gas is not coming out, that means the cloth is ready.
Open up the can once it is cooled down and your cloth should be completely black and feel more brittle than it did before. Test it out by using a flint and steel to spark it, it should light up very easily.
Once you have perfected your process, repeat as necessary. Make sure you bring with you on any camping trips for the next time you might have to make a fire and have no other methods available to you.
Know of a better way to make it? Comment below!
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