HOW TO: Make Char Cloth In a Tin Can

What is char cloth?

Char cloth is one of the lightest, and easiest ways to create a fire when traveling in the wilderness. With the ability to keep it compact it saves a lot of room in your bag, or even your pocket. It’s no surprise that it is has been used for centuries. Char cloth gets created is by heating up the organic matter to release the gasses without actually burning the material. The scientific word for this process is called pyrolysis. Defined by a thermochemical decomposition of organic material at elevated temperatures with a lack of oxygen.

How to make it

To create char cloth, the first thing you will need is a way to contain it. In the video below I use a tin can that used to have corn in it. The best material to use for this project is something 100% cotton. I used old wash cloths that I was going to throw out but made some char cloth instead.

Loosely pack the can with the cut up squares of char cloth. You can also use an Altoids can or something very familiar. One thing to remember though is that you need a space, or hole for the gasses to escape. Once you have your can packed with the cotton squares you will place it directly into the fire. This can also be done on a grill but never do this inside. You sure won’t be happy when you fill the inside of your house up with the smoke that this will produce.

Once in the fire you will see the gasses coming out of your hole in the can, this is exactly what you want. The gasses may catch on fire but that is nothing to worry about, chances are this will definitely happen. Once the fire is no longer coming out of the can your char cloth is finished. Allow it to cool before taking it out of the can so you don’t burn yourself and there you have it, char cloth that is ready to go into your bug out bag and allow you to get a fire roaring with just a spark from your ferro rod or, your flint and steel. You can also use an empty lighter for the flint to spark the cloth up!

HOW TO: Char Cloth in a tin can

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