Making charcloth and charcoal

by Tim
(Louisville,KY.&THE ROAD)

First I will cover the items/materials you will need. For charcloth you will need 100% cotton cloth cut into 2"x2" squares. For the charcoal you will need to get out in the woods and find some punky wood. This is the dead spongy wood you find in rotten stumps where carpenter ants or termites have been. Break the punk wood into 1" pieces.

Next you will need something to char it in. Depending on how much you want to make determines the size of the container selected. For a small amount an altoids can will work. For a large amount you may need a gallon can. Either way it needs to be able to be sealed air tight.(In a survival situation you can use any metal can and seal the end with mud) Next punch a 1/16" to 1/8" hole in the container for the fumes(smoke) to escape.

Place your cloth or punk wood loosely in the container and close it up tight except for the pinhole.

Place the container in the edge of your fire with the pinhole visible to you. As the container heats up the contents will begin a controlled burn inside. You will notice smoke coming from the pinhole. If you see any fire coming out remove the container from the fire and the smoke should extinguish them.

During this process you should flip the container over to insure a complete and even burn. When the smoke slows down your material should be charred. Remove the container from the fire and plug the hole with a stick.

Don't open the container until it has completely cooled to the touch. If you open it too soon the contents can burst into flames ruining all of your hard work. You may get lucky and reseal it and save the contents,I have before.

Once the container is cold it is safe to open. The contents should be an even black. If it is still a little brown it needs to cook longer. The cloth should not be hard to tear but not crumble either. The charcoal will be a lot smaller and very dry. It really isn't that hard and with a little practice you will figure it out.

Get out your flint and steel and test it out. If it takes a spark and begins to glow red your there.

I find it works better to put a spark to the cloth and transfer it to the charcoal.This gives you a bigger ember/heatsource to ignite your dry tinder.

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water filter
by: zoot

can the charcoal be used to filter water



It really works
by: Reid

I have tried this method and it works great with my firesteel. Although I used an empty paint can instead of an altoids tin.

Good Description of the Process
by: Anonymous Vox populi

Tim, Really appreciated your article. Having used char cloth for some time it is quite easy to make in the way you outlined. Don't worry about that small flame at the top vent of the container, it's only the gases burning off whatever you have inside. There is little danger of destroying the contents as long as the lid is well sealed. When the white smoke stops the contents are carbonized and you're ready to roll.

Good Stuff
by: Dan

Great article. As one who believes in the process and product "kudos". One really has to use the charcloth once to catch the spark and light a fire and they'll be a convert for life.

Reply to Richard
by: Nomad

It text it seems like alot of work but it really isn't.I try not to leave out the tiniest detail when explaining a skill, it could mean life or death.
The quick of it is you just grab an altoids tin, punch a hole in it and add the material.Then lay it in the fire until it is done ,remove it and let it cool.I feel that explanation leaves out alot to someone who hasn't done it before.I know I had a vague explanation and it took me awhile the first few times.Good directions I feel are always better.
The finished product should be kept in an airtight container to keep out humidity.
The charcoal and charcloth can also be set to glowing with a magnifying glass.
I value your feedback and anyone elses,that is how we grow stronger.

by: Richard

Great tips to make charcoal but it seems a lot of work to get tinder. Should be easier to find some dry tinder you can keep in your pocket or bag ?

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