Some time ago I had planned my initial project for the weekend was to finish my wallet and maybe practice some watercolor painting. But as I was doing laundry I came across an old pair of pants that, to be frank, was ripped to shit. But I had loved these pants dearly and decided to let them live on as rags for usage in other applications. (I’ll be needing rags whenever I get around to finishing a woodworking project after all.) But as I was cutting it to bits, I realized that some swaths of cloth would be too small for usage as a proper rag, and then there were the tiny pockets and the folded hems and all that where there simply wasn’t enough undisturbed cloth to be a good rag.
I checked the tag to see just what material I was working with here and was pleasantly surprised to find that it was 100% Cotton, and it hit me that I could use these scraps to make charcloth!
For those who don’t know, Charcloth is a very good survival tinder. It catches a spark very easily and burns (from what I’ve read) pretty slowly. It doesn’t make a big flame on it’s own but forms a workable ember you can use in a tinder bundle to make a fire. Great for survival applications and I’ve been wanting to have a bit in my survival bag’s fire kit for a long time.
So! I took some smaller scraps of cloth I’d been cutting and cut them into smaller squares roughly 1-2″
Next I took an empty Altoids tin I had lying around and a nail and popped a little hole in the top of it.
I piled in, very loosely mind you, the cloth strips and closed it up nicely. All of this was done that saturday. Now all I needed was a heat source! So back on the weekend when The Artist came over, friday evening we decided to have a fire! Perfect! We enjoyed marshmallows and had a nice evening until the fire had burned down to embers, I checked that I’d have a method to remove the hot tin, which I had a pair of long tongs, and so then I took the tin, closed it up tight and put it into the hot embers. I don’t have any photos of this part since it was night and fire and well I was having too much fun to remember to take pictures…
But as for the tin, it somewhat unexpectedly caught completely on fire!
In other tutorials I’ve seen and read, they say that if the tin catches on fire, or fire comes out of the hole, too much air is getting in and you’re getting full on combustion not charring and that when you open the tin you’ll have nothing but ash. So The Artist and I were a bit disappointed but we continued our conversation eventually all of the paint burned off the tin and there were just flames almost shooting out of the edges and the hole in the top. After a few minutes though, the flames stopped, welp might as well get the failure out of the fire and give it a try again another time right? So I grabbed the tongs and pulled it out setting it on the driveway to cool down.
We went inside and completely forgot about it for a few hours. The Artist remembered it before I did and reminded me to bring it in, so I did and I popped it open over the sink ready to wash it all out when… LO AND BEHOLD! CHAR CLOTH!!!
The cloth bits shrunk substantially from the initial cloth, which I didn’t expect, but it worked! And they aren’t super fragile or anything so I now have a nice pack off charcloth in my fire kit and am one very happy survivalist :3