How to Make Char Cloth

 Char cloth is one of those camping essentials that many people have never heard of.  It is a unique fire starter that is only to be used to start a fire bundle, which in turn will light the tinder.  While the name may sound a little intimidating, it really is not.  The only complication that exists as far as making it is taking the time to make this fire starter.  But once you use it once, you will never leave for the trail again without your char cloth.

To begin this process, one will need to build a fire.  It really does not need to be a huge fire.  What you are looking for are the coals.  While the fire is burning, you can begin to prepare the container for your char cloth.

char.clothYes, I said a container.  Char cloth is actually cloth that has been seared by heat.  It is not burned but charred in an oxygen free environment.  This process is called pyrolysis.  To accomplish this, requires a container that is sealed except for a very small hole.

When it comes to the container, you are not looking for a large container.  A small metal tin with a lid will work fine.  If you need some ideas, check out the candy row.  There are many candies that are sold in small tins.

Once you have your tin, it is time to punch a hole.  The size of the hole is very important and should be as small as possible.  I know that this seems counterproductive but a small hole will reduce the amount of possible oxygen compared to a larger hole.  A small nail will work fine.  To poke the nail through, simply take a hammer and hit the nail.  The nail will easily go through the metal. 

The next step is to prepare the cloth.  The type of cloth you use is very important.  Use only natural materials for the char cloth.  This includes cotton, jute, and linen.  After you have selected your material, the next step is to cut it into squares that will fit into the tin.  Once the squares have been cut, place in the tin and top with the lid.

At this point, take your tin over to the fire.  Stir the fire down until you have just coals.  Snuggle the tin down into the coals.  As the tin heats up, you will begin to see smoke coming out of the small hole.  Keep the tin in the coals until smoke stops coming out of the hole.  Once that happens, remove the tin from the coals.  Set the tin aside to allow to cool.

After the tin has cooled, your char cloth is ready for your next camping trip.