Posts Tagged With: make char cloth

Blowing The Lid Off Char Containers

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!

Blowing My-Lid-Over-Char-Containers

Easy button fix ~ 500 count .22 cal. pellet container

“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:

Blowing My-Lid-Over-Char-Containers

Punk pine!

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.

Blowing My-Lid-Over-Char-Containers

Punk wood in the tin

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.

Blowing-My-Lid-Over-Char-Containers

Smoke coming from the pin hole in the top

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.

Blowing-My-Lid-Over-Char-Containers

Chillin’ char tin

Test your charred material. Throw hot sparks from your ferro rod into your tin. You should get a several glowing embers.

Blowing-My-Lid-Over-Char-Containers

Embers on charred punk wood

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!

Blowing-My-Lid-Over-Char-Containers

 

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,

Todd

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Categories: Bushcraft, DIY Preparedness Projects, Doing the Stuff, Gear, Self-reliance | Tags: , , | 36 Comments

An Easy Char Cloth and Accidental Char Pad Tutorial

by Todd Walker

To build a fire, you need three items: fuel, heat, and air (oxygen). Eliminate air from the fire triangle and all you’ll get is smoke and charred material.

That’s the point, right? We’re making char cloth.

Doing the Stuff with Fire: Easy Char Cloth and Accidental Char Pad Tutorial

Char cloth in a tinder bundle

Charred plant-based material is created by using two sides of the fire triangle – heat and fuel – and withholding oxygen.

It’s a simple process that takes little time but creates valuable a starter for fire building. Here’s what you’ll need to make your own char cloth. As a bonus, I’ve included my accidental char pads made from 100% cotton makeup remover pads!

I made this DiY fire piston and needed char cloth for a test run. It was an epic fail! Well, not epic really. I made the groove too deep on the wooden shaft causing the o-ring to loose air pressure when I slam the piston together.

Doing the Stuff with Fire: Easy Char Cloth and Accidental Char Pad Tutorial

My failed attempt at a DiY fire piston – I’ll let y’all know when I work out the kinks.

You learn by Doing the Stuff with your DiY gear. Fail forward, remember! I’ll share what I’ve learned on this fail in a later post.

For now, let’s make some char cloth… and char pads.

DiY Char Cloth Material List

100% cotton fabric – I used an old bath towel (turned shop towel). You can use a bandana, t-shirt, dish towel, or, as I discovered, makeup removers.

Metal container – Altoids tin, paint can with lid, or bucket. Your container doesn’t need to be air-tight.

Doing the Stuff with Fire: A Char Cloth and Accidental Char Pad Tutorial

Cutting tool, cloth, container, punch

Heat source – Camp fire, grill, fireplace, backpack stove, or any fire will do. I used my cooker with a spare grill grate to support my tin.

Step 1: Cut up strips of cloth into 2×2 inch squares. Procession not required.

Step 2: Punch a small diameter hole in the top of your container to allow smoke/gas to escape when heat is applied. This step could probably be skipped with Altoids tins as the lid hinge holes allows smoke/gas to escape as well.

Doing the Stuff with Fire: Easy Char Cloth and Accidental Char Pad Tutorial

Any sharp, pointy object will work

Step 3: Loosely layer the cloth squares in your container. A tightly packed tin may not char all the surface area of your material. I placed 7 squares of thick towel in my tin.

Doing the Stuff with Fire: A Char Cloth and Accidental Char Pad Tutorial

Step 4: Close the lid and set the container on your heat source. In under a minute, you should begin to see smoke streaming from the vent hole. This smoke/gas is flammable and will ignite if it comes in contact with the fire source.

Doing the Stuff with Fire: A Char Cloth and Accidental Char Pad Tutorial

When the smoke or fire stops coming from the vent hole, your char material is ready.

Your cloth should only take a few minutes (3 to 5) to fully char.

If you open the lid while the container is in the fire, you’ve added the third side of the fire triangle and your material will burn instead of char.

Step 5: Remove the container from the fire and allow to cool. Open the lid and remove your charred material. The charred cloth is delicate, so be careful when separating.

Doing the Stuff with Fire: Easy Char Cloth and Accidental Char Pad Tutorial

Charred cloth is ready!

Now to test the charred cloth. I used a modern ferro rod. Char cloth will catch a spark from old school flint and steel as well.

Doing the Stuff with Fire: Easy Char Cloth and Accidental Char Pad TutorialBefore you lay sparks to your char cloth, gather and build a dry tinder bundle. It’s been raining for two days here. I found some dead grass and leaves under shelves behind my shop and shaped it into a bird’s nest. I placed the char cloth inside the nest and showered sparks on the char.

Once lit, cup the bird’s nest in your hands and gently blow into the bundle. Done correctly, you will create…

Doing the Stuff with Fire: Easy Char Cloth and Accidental Char Pad Tutorial

Fire!

Store your char cloth in a sealed container in your fire kit. I dug around in my surplus B.O.B. box to find an empty 35mm file canister. In my rummaging, I found a package of 100% cotton makeup remover pads purchased years ago.

Aha moment! What can I say. Thought they’d come in handy one day. And they did…

Accidental Char Pads

These pads are marketed for removing makeup and nail polish without leaving cotton fibers behind. I loaded my tin with 5 pads and followed the same procedures for making char cloth. This won’t work with plain ol’ cotton balls.

Doing the Stuff with Fire: Easy Char Cloth and Accidental Char Pad Tutorial

I’ll bet the ladies already have these on hand.

To my surprise, the char pads caught and held a spark even better than the char cloth.

Doing the Stuff with Fire: Easy Char Cloth and Accidental Char Pad Tutorial

Puffy char pad

Doing the Stuff with Fire: Easy Char Cloth and Accidental Char Pad Tutorial

Film canister filled with char pads

And yes, this is one of the reasons I pack Killer Cotton in my emergency kits.

If you enjoyed this DiY preparedness tutorial, please share it with your friends! As always…

Keep Doing the Stuff!

Todd

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Copyright Information: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, with a link back to this site crediting the author. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

Categories: Bushcraft, Camping, DIY Preparedness Projects, Doing the Stuff, Preparedness | Tags: , , | 26 Comments

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