Lighting Candles With Charcloth

Did you know that it’s possible to light a candle using only charcloth to ignite it? Of course you’ll need to capture a spark with the charcloth first.

Most folks who demonstrate flint & steel fire making like to use jute fiber to make a flame from the glowing charcloth. It is quick and dramatic. A ball of fine natural fibers works quite well for this purpose. However, in this case, a candle is lit by igniting the vapor of super-heated wax which in turn lights the wick. In some circles of Civil War reenactors it has been a badge of pride to accomplish this skill.

In an article “Making Charcloth” I describe how to make charcloth by using small pieces of rolled up cotton fabric. I have found the finished charcloth rolls to be the key element to igniting a candle. Many flint & steel kits include candles as they are used to sustain a flame while starting a campfire and it is especially useful when using damp materials for tinder. I use a small birthday cake candle in my kit and for this candle lighting method.

The procedure I follow is to catch a spark at one end of the charcloth roll, then place the seam of the charcloth roll against the candle (to avoid unraveling) with the spark end next to the candle wick. Tilt them slightly so that the charcloth is under the wick, enabling the heat to rise up to the candle. Blow gently from the charcloth side toward the candle. As the wax melts smoke will appear and with a gentle sustained breath the vapor will eventually ignite the candle wick. Good quality charcloth will make a positive difference.

Once learned, this method has a practical application besides exhibiting your flint and steel prowess, it offers an alternative ignition source in the event that you do not have fiber available.

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One thought on “Lighting Candles With Charcloth

  1. I must say, I tried this, and I was wondering if the candle would do anything but smolder…and wham! it lit. Thanks for the useful tip!

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