How to Make Char Cloth

Learning how to make char cloth is a must for anyone interested in learning more traditional ways of living.

As mentioned in an earlier post, the ability to control fire is the most essential and fundamental skill in human history. It is the bedrock for all the accomplishments that come after. One of the primitive or traditional skills growing in popularity today is learning how to start a fire. Many methods exist for starting a fire without a flame. Using char cloth combined with a flint and steel striker has to be one of the most popular methods today, and was popular as a traditional fire starter as well.

The history of char cloth is fuzzy at best. Its story was not recorded in the past, so we really have no idea how long it has been around for. We do know it was a very popular ways to start fires in the past in such periods as medieval Europe, the Vikings cultural height, and was the most popular way of starting fire much later for the mountain men.

One skill all these people would have understood was how to make char cloth.

Here are the steps you need to know to make char cloth.


First off to make char cloth you will need a fire going. This is the first step since it will take a few minutes to let the coals burn down, and coals are what you need.DSCN1008


While your fire is burning down you need to get a tin of some sort and a piece of 100% cotton.DSCN1009

Altoid tins are by far the most popular tins used today due to their ease of purchase. They will work perfectly, but you will need to punch a hole in the lid of the tin. This hole will allow smoke to leave the tin. Make sure the hole is not overly big though. A hole too big will result in too much oxygen being let into the tin and letting the cloth catch on fire. When you make char cloth you are basically trying to bake the cloth, and not actually catch it on fire.

Also check the tag on the cloth article to ensure it is 100% cotton.Cut the cotton into smaller pieces so they fit into the tin.DSCN1011

Onto the coals

Once your coals are ready and your cloth is cut and into the tin, place it in the coals. After a few minutes it will begin to smoke. That means everything is going according to plan. Continue to let your cloth bake until the smoke stops.DSCN1012


Once the smoke stops rolling from the tin it is ready to be removed from the fire and cooled. After several minutes you are ready to open the tin and admire your new fire starting creation.DSCN1017

Using char cloth is simple when you pair it with a flint and steel striking system. Flint and steel is a percussive form of fire starting in which the flint is struck to the steel and sparks are thrown. Char cloth comes into play by catching the thrown sparks. Once the spark has been caught it goes into some dry tinder and produces a fire.

Learning how to make char cloth is a very simple process, but is essential for traditional skills and understanding older ways of living.


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