“Char cloth? What the heck is that?”
I have to confess that when my hunting buddy first told me about char cloth I had no idea what he was talking about, but of course, I acted like I did. Let’s make sure that doesn’t happen to you.
So the short answer.
Char cloth is a piece or organic material that is “charred” until it is mostly concentrated carbon.
The result is a piece of fabric that makes it easier to get your fire going quickly, especially in harsh and unfavorable conditions — all without a high-temperature spark.
I was so impressed by this I decided to make some myself. The result, I got so fired up (pun intended) I had to share how to do it with all of you.
How to Make Char Cloth
Here’s what you need:
- Scissors or knife
- Small metal tin (Altoids tin’s work well)
- 2×2 in squares of 100% cotton fabric
- Propane camp stove or similar, fire, or barbecue grill
- Nail or punch
Cut a natural fabric into squares.
Make sure it is 100% cotton. Other blends of material can result in melted globs — that won’t do you any good.
Having big squares is not necessary because char cloth only has a one-time burn session, but squares too small can result in an ineffective product as well. You don’t have to be exact on the size of the squares. Rough edges or uneven shapes is fine too.
Cut the fabric the same size and shape as the tin box you will be keeping the char cloth in.
Cotton balls can work as well. Also, I recommended that you only do a couple of pieces of cloth at a time. If you have too many sheets, it will take too long and not work correctly.
Find a metal tin.
Once you have prepared the squares, get the tin box ready. Altoids tins work great for this. If you will be making a large amount of char cloth use a paint can or oatmeal can.
Punch a hole in the top of the tin. You want a hole in the tin so that the box doesn’t explode or cause injury. Don’t go dying on me now.
Place several squares in the tin. Note: if you don’t have an Altoids tin or something similar, you can use tin foil. It takes a little bit longer but works the same.
- Simply wrap the squares into a flat bundle of tin foil and place it on the burner. A barbecue works great with the tin foil as well.
Place the tin on a small camp burner or grill. Place the tin directly on the flame and wait anywhere from 15 minutes to 1 hour. Keeping the flame set on low helps you maintain more control over the process. When done, remove the squares from the heat and let them cool down.
The squares should be a blackish color, but still flexible. If the material crumbles when you take it out of the tin, then you burned it for too long. If this happens, start over with more squares, but keep the tin on the burner for less time.
Note: using white cloth can aid in the process and produce a better result.
Then after the cloth has cooled down enough, put it in your EDC or in with your fire starting kit and use it the next time you go camping, hunting or hiking.
Be sure to test your char cloth before your life depends on it!
Please let me know if you have any questions, tips or char cloth making problems in the comments section below.
Press on my friends!