by Todd Walker
If you don’t like something, change it. This isn’t easy to do in some area of life. Especially when applied to stuff beyond our control.
I’ll spare you the philosophical mumble floating in my head. You’re welcome!
You want practical, field tested, physical stuff that works. Today I want to show you a simple modification you can make to your char container.
In controlled settings, charring cloth on my fish cooker in my outdoor kitchen, my Altoids char tin worked like a gem. In the field, not so much. Something caused the lid to blow at a most inopportune time… while in the fire.
No longer starved of oxygen, the fire triangle was complete and a natural chain reaction occurred: char cloth ignites and I blow my lid!
Taking a gamble on theory is a sucker’s game. Time to…
Purge Your Preps
Doing the Stuff with your gear is the only way you’ll discover what needs to change. That’s the process of trading theory for action. Act. Analyze. Adjust.
Don’t depend on any gear in your kit, BOB, kitchen, shop, or any other place without proving your preps. Taking this action will cause you to lighten your load, devolve, and simplify.
Here’s an easy fix to keep you from blowing your lid!
“Leave lame containers behind!” was my thought. To prevent you from racking your brain to find the almost-perfect charring container, allow me to show you mine. DRG and I began the hunt. Nothing. We scoured store isles I had no business walking down – ever!
Then, in a stroke of brilliance, an “Aha Moment” occurred.
I blurted out, “I’ll use one of my pellet tins!” The lady next to me pretended not to notice my outburst.
When I got home, I emptied a 500 count .22 caliber pellet tin into another container. Don’t have a pellet container with a screw-on lid? Sporting goods stores sell these for under $10. Pellet rifles and pellets are a great addition to your preps anyway.
Dirt Time at Walker Woods
I made some char pads to prime my new tin. Scraped off the brittle, chipped logo from the lid at home, grabbed my bushcraft kit, and headed to the woods.
Here’s a pictorial guide to my journey:
With only a few pieces of charred cotton pad in my new tin, I pulled up my mental map of resources near my Dirt Time Camp. There was an old dead fall 70 yards away as I recalled.
If you haven’t formed the habit of making mental maps, or you’re just plain forgetful, keep a journal in your kit to jot down what, where, when, how, and why to help you find resources near your Dirt Time Camp.
Punk wood makes great natural char material. Find wood that is partially rotted but not deteriorated to dust.
Place small pieces of punk wood in your char tin with any existing charred material. In this case, the punk is on top of a bit of char cloth and char pad I’d made previously.
Screw on the lid and place in the fire or coals. Watch for smoke (wood gas) coming from the small hole in your lid.
The wood gas will combust if making contact with flames from you fire. Not a problem. The material will char anyway.
Once the smoke (or flaming wood gas) stops coming from the hole, your material is charred. Remove the tin from the heat source and allow to cool.
I took advantage of rare Georgia snow to cool my char container.
Test your charred material. Throw hot sparks from your ferro rod into your tin. You should get a several glowing embers.
Satisfied with the glow, screw the lid back on to extinguish the embers. This tin rides in my bushcraft kit. No worries about the lid popping open when you screw it!
Your gear and kits should evolve and change as you add skills and knowledge. You may half the stuff in your pack just adds extra weight. But you’ll never know what needs to change until trade theory for action.
Keep Doing the Stuff,
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Last weekend I made char cloth the whole day Saturday with the Boy Scouts. Altoid tin, cotton cloth, coals on the fire. Never once did it “pop open”. I think your “punk wood” had a LOT of sap of other resin that would gasify quickly and there was too much oxygen getting inside.