Quickie Charcloth

Charcloth is a main element in creating fire using the flint and steel method. It is carbonized cotton that captures the spark produced when carbon steel is struck on the sharp edge of flint or other silicate based glassy rocks. Traditionally small pieces of cotton fabric (I use 100% cotton jeans) are placed in a metal container that has a slightly loose or vented lid and placed on coals. As the container heats, smoke begins to escape out of the seams, but the restricted airflow prevents the contents from catching on fire. As a result, it partially burns or carbonizes it… sort of a half-way point between solid and burned, thus it’s easier to ignite with sparks. This process takes time to create coals and then to bake the cotton pieces. The Quickie Charcloth method eliminates the need for making coals for baking, the use of a container, and the time to bake a batch. All you need is set of metal tongs, a piece of cotton cloth, and a lighter. You hold the cloth on the edge using the tongs and set it on fire with the lighter. As it burns, turn the cloth to capture the flame in the most even way. Allow the cloth to burn until black, then lay it down on a non-combustible surface such as a pie tin and snuff the fire out with something like a can lid or doubled aluminum foil. A charcloth prepared in this manner will have the spectrum of undercooked to overcooked material with most of it being perfectly carbonized. As you practice this method you will learn what to look for to achieve the best results. It is a quick way to make charcloth without fuss and can be handy when demonstrating flint and steel fire-making on the go.

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One thought on “Quickie Charcloth

  1. This is something I havn’t tried yet but want to try. I’m not to sure if this can be prepared ahead of time and stored for future use.

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