Char cloth can be indispensable in the outdoors for fire starting. Particularly when you are trying to start fire by friction or by spark. These simple steps will have you a supply of char cloth in no time.
Step 1: Start With a Pair of Old Blue Jeans
Blue jeans, Wranglers are my favorite, are heavy denim all cotton fabric. The key ingredient in char cloth is COTTON. any all cotton fabric will work, terry cloth towels, T-shirts, Long underwear, etc.
Jean fabric will hold together longer. Terry cloth or long underwear have texture to capture a spark. So there are lots of choices when it comes to the base material.
Step 2: Get a Metal Can With a Good Fitting Lid
Altoids tins are plentiful and easy to come by and work well for the task. Any tin or stronger metal will work. The lid must be fairly snug.
Make a small hole approximately 1/16 inch in size in can. Location is not important, just need to get air in to can.
Step 3: Rip Cloth in to Strips That Fit in Can.
Ripping is the best, don't cut. Those frayed ends with give those sparks somewhere to catch.
If you are using a larger tin or can, make your pieces no bigger than 2 inch by 2 inch. Any bigger and you end up wasting char cloth. Wasting anything in the outdoor is never a good idea.
Step 4: Place Strips of Fabric in Can
Fill can up, but don't overfill, lid should be able to close without force.
You need to be able to get some air to all the pieces during the burning phase.
Step 5: Place Can in Fire (on Edges)
Place can in the fire, but not in the middle of the fire, on the edge is fine. Ideally you should scrape out some of the coal bed and place the can on top. But the edge of the fire is fine.
Notice the paint burning on the can, as that will only happen the first time you use your can, or only a painted can. You will need to watch the can for the smoke coming out of the can. You are looking for the smoke to stop
This step takes about an hour. You may want to turn your can a few times to even out the heat. DO NOT grab your can with your bare hands. It is in FIRE, so it will be HOT. Use tongs or a shovel or similar tool to handle the can. Make sure to wait until you don't see any smoke from can.
Step 6: Remove From Fire and Wait
Using fire tongs or some other appropriate safety equipment, remove your can from the fire and allow to cool completely. WARNING: Can will be hot. Do not try and grab with bare hands.
DO NOT, REPEAT, DO NOT open can until is has cooled. If you do so, all your char cloth will ignite and burn up right there.
During the burning phase you have removed all the oxygen from the can. A fire cannot burn without oxygen. BUT, remember that small hole, some oxygen is getting into the tin, but you are cooling it faster than the oxygen can fuel the burning reaction in the can.... unless you open the can. . .
Step 7: Finish
Once can has cooled. you can remove the char cloth, and reload can to make more, or finish there.
Store finished product in a ziploc bag or similar water proof container.