I was recently introduced to char cloth with a brief demonstration. I was impressed with how well it worked and how simple it sounded to make it. I decided to make my own and documented the results.
What is char cloth?
Char cloth is a form of natural material which is “cooked” to remove all moisture making it extremely dry and susceptible to ignition. This makes char cloth an excellent fire starting material. Char cloth is often made from scraps of 100% cotton – such as from a t-shirt. Any natural fiber – such as a twine – can also work from what I have been told.
My first try at making char cloth:
To make the char material is placed in a metal container and super heater over a fire (but not exposed to flame) to dry it. I went out in the garage and found a small metal box with a lid that fit tightly. I poked a hole in the top of it with a knife as to provide a vent. Next I found a 100% cotton t-shirt that we were getting ready to throw away and cut a place section out of.
I lit my grill and folding the material up and placed it in the box. Next I placed the box out in the grill and checked on it once in a while. From my research I was not surprised to see smoke coming out the hole on the top of the metal box. My understanding was that I should continue to “cook” the char cloth until the smoke stopped coming out.
Once the smoke stopped (took about 8 minutes) I shut off the grill and allowed the box to cool. Upon opening the box I found the cotton material to be black, and rather fragile.
Trying out the char cloth I grabbed one of my fire starting tools – a Blast Match. Using the Blast Match I showered the char cloth with sparks as I pushed down on it. The char cloth started burning immediately and blowing on it lightly increase the size of the embers. Success!
I definitely need to practice more with different materials. I can see the value of char cloth as part of a fire starting kit – as well as it being an excellent skill being able t make more in the field.
Take care all –