Introduction: Making Survival Cord From Nettles

In a survival situation, hunting, camping, or fishing, string is almost always a necessity. What happens if you don't have any? This is a way to make a very strong string from a common plant found in the woods, the stinging nettle. It is plentiful enough that you can make all the string you need. If there isn't any around you can use other reeds or grasses too. This method of making string, or cordage is a good way to make it because due to the reverse wrap, when it is cut very little of it is unraveled and this wrap also can take weak materials and make them into a very strong string.

Step 1: Finding the Right Plants

For this step, locate the reeds or grasses you will need. Find as many as you can, as it can take a lot. I have found that the inner stem of nettles works well after being dried (step 2). Also, various long grasses and reeds can work but make sure that they are strong enough. Harvest the plants and strip of stems or leaves if applicable. Then proceed to step 2.

Warning: Nettles have small spines and can hurt you, but not seriously. Use gloves when harvesting and rub the stalks to rid of any spines. Use caution.

Step 2: Preparing the Nettles

After collecting your plants, lay them out in a sunny area and allow to dry for a day or two. A faster way is to lay to dry above a fire, just make sure they aren't close enough to burn. You will want them pretty dry so make sure to be patient. After they have dried completely slice down the middle of the stalk and pull out the inner fibers of the stalk. These are the fibers you will use to weave into string. It can also help to point the stalks with a rock or stick.

Step 3: Starting to Weave

You will need to start by finding a strong fiber (or a couple put together). Fold it in half and tape the end of it to your leg or a tree, something to anchor it. Take one side of the fiber in each hand. Then, twist the fibers to right by rolling them in your fingers. After this bring the left fiber to the right under the right fiber. When this is done correctly it is a fluid motion so that the twisting and wrapping are in separate directions.

Step 4: Continuing the Wraps

One strand is not enough length for your string, so you will have to work another string into the rope. When you come close to the end of a strand while wrapping, the last 3 inches or so, you will want to be ready to tie in another strand of dried plant. Fold the strand in half, and place the middle where your last wrap ended. Now you will combine the end of your first strand and your new strand and continue twisting and wrapping the same way.

Step 5: Finishing It Off

When you have desired length, you can just stop wrapping! If done correctly the friction from this type of reversed wrap will hold it together. If it does not or you just want to make extra sure it doesn't become unraveled tie a simple overhand knot at the end of your sting. This string has many uses, from making tools, shelters, preparing food and so many more. If you want to make some ahead of time or practice at home, you can also use raffia which has similar properties to dried nettle.