Thursday, May 19, 2011

Charcloth, It Isn't a Fashion Statement

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Please enjoy this rerun of how to make charcloth.

Charcloth, It Isn't a Fashion Statement

I decided to try making charcloth.  I have a flint and steel on the way, plus I just bought Le Loup's book, Primitive Firelighting.  I looked through a few different resources and wondered how hard it could really be?

Alex Trebek:  Answer, Making Charcloth.

Mike Oscar Hotel:  What is easier than picking your nose?

Alex Trebek:  Correct!

Okay, maybe it isn't that easy. And don't act like you're offended by nose picking. If you're a male, you do it.  It is a lot less complicated than I thought it would be to make charcloth.  I even thought I screwed it up a few times, but I didn't.  I'll be honest, though.  I was trying three projects at once today and this is the only one I got right.  One outta three.....ain't bad?

So we start with my old 100% cotton T-shirt.  Does it have to be cotton?  Dunno.  I think maybe.  This one had a little paint and sweat on it, so I decided to retire it. Plus, it was a v-neck.  I can't stand v-necks.

Chop it up into little squares.  You muzzle loader guys ought to be familiar with this.

Get yourself a can.  I chose a quart paint can.  The point is to protect the cloth from the fire, but not from the heat of the flame.

I don't know if this is going to be a problem.  There is some sort of primer on the inside of this can.  I think I'll burn it off before I do the charcloth - and I'll stay clear of the fumes. 

Like I said - I'll burn it off.

Punch a hole in the lid.  This is where the gas from the cloth will escape.  The point of putting it inside the can with one hole is that the gas can escape, but the cloth inside will not actually burn.  I think.  Somebody chime in if I'm off base.

Everything is ready.

It was pretty cold today by Colorado standards.  It was down in the single digits.  I'm sure this is t-shirt weather in Finland. ;)  As you can see we got some snow.  Not a lot, but enough so I was able to have a fire today.  Here is the can - I'm burning off whatever is lining it.  And, of course, I've got my tea pot on to boil. 

The stuff burned off well, in big peeling chunks.

Load in the cloth.

Tap the lid down tight.

Fire in the hole!

Here's the cool part.  It will start to smoke out of the hole.  Remember, the stuff inside is not burning - this is flammable gas!

I wasn't able to catch it with the camera very well, but the gas caught fire, which made me a little nervous for the cloth inside.  I kept blowing it out, but it kept lighting.  Gasification?

When it stops smoking, take the can off the fire.  I stuck it in the snow.  And burnt my glove.  Oops.

Looks like charcloth. 

Nice.  Not as brittle as I thought it would be.  Pulled apart easily.

I hit it with my firesteel.  Viola.  It really is that easy.  I blew on this one a bit.  I walked away for a moment and the slightest wind kept it glowing.  This is easy to do and really adds no additional weight to your pack.  Get out there, try it and have fun!

Pax Domini Sit Semper Vobiscum,

Mike, Oscar, Hotel.....out.

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