"Natural" char materials

Discussions about primitive (ie no matches) methods of making fire.

Moderators: admin, Walter Muma

"Natural" char materials

Postby hatman » Tue Feb 09, 2010 11:08 pm

We should all know that char cloth is wonderful stuff. I've read about using punk wood to make char, and tried it. It works well if the wood is soft enough. I tried it with a few different pieces of wood and found that you need a decently softened piece of punk wood for the char to catch a spark easily. The harder the wood the less likely the char will catch a spark.
I'm curious as to whether anyone can think of, or has tried, other natural materials to make char which can easily catch a spark. I have been thinking about the amodou layer of polypore fungi. Ordinarily you can just shave some of the amodou off into a fine powder and it should catch a spark. I've also read of boiling it in certain chemical then drying it. I was wondering if you could cut out a chunk of it and char it. I don't have any samples on me at the moment and being in a city in winter I can't really get to any districts where I could find a fresh sample to test it myself. I'm also curious about other natural materials that might easily convert to char: perhaps certain lichens or mosses? Ideas/ experiences?
hatman
 
Posts: 48
Joined: Tue Aug 25, 2009 9:03 pm
Location: Ottawa, ON

 

Re: "Natural" char materials

Postby dixieangler » Wed Feb 10, 2010 12:11 pm

hatman wrote:I'm curious as to whether anyone can think of, or has tried, other natural materials to make char which can easily catch a spark. I'm also curious about other natural materials that might easily convert to char: perhaps certain lichens or mosses? Ideas/ experiences?


Not me. Maybe LDS or somebody else has. I have only used char cloth for flint and steel.

But I have tried using different kinds of punky rotten dried out (super dry) woods in my fire piston with no success. I have only been able to light "newly made fresh" char cloth in the fire piston. Old char cloth still won't light in it. Real finicky about certain kinds of tinder it will light, a luxury that I don't have in the woods. Add this to the whole process of maintaining it and keeping it clean before each use. Also lubrication and replacement of the gasket from time to time. The fire piston is useless to me as a fire starting survival tool. Its only a novelty item to me, nothing more.
- Robert M.

"I can do all things through Christ, who strengtheneth me." - Paul, c. A.D. 60 (Philippians 4:13)
dixieangler
 
Posts: 1196
Joined: Mon Jan 28, 2008 9:24 pm
Location: Sebring, FL

Re: "Natural" char materials

Postby johnep » Mon Feb 22, 2010 4:00 am

I too have failed with the fire piston and it just sits in the drawer while I use my fire stick which catches a facial pad( sold for cosmetics) instantly.
However, I am using old char cloth that came with the piston and will make fresh.
johnep
johnep
johnep
 
Posts: 138
Joined: Sun Apr 08, 2007 2:42 am
Location: East England

Re: "Natural" char materials

Postby LDS » Wed Feb 24, 2010 3:44 pm

Maple punkwood works best of all for charpunk. And make sure it is punkwood and not worm eaten termite remains. About any punkwood will work in a pinch.

For it to work right you have to have a fire already to process it. It is best to bury the punkwood in a thin layer of dirt and build a fire on top of it. This bakes it in an oxygen free condition but does not consume the carbon. You are really making charcoal out of punky soft wood. You can do the same with cloth. If you have an airtight tin all the better, but in a survival situation it may not be available, so you need to expiriment with burying the charmaterial under the fire so you will know how it works.

I have heard about the magic fungus for many years, and some swear it is the best thing around, but I have never found any in my neck of the woods or felt an urgent need for seeking it out. You can not walk 50 yards through the woods in my habitat without finding good punkwood. It is available and it works, why spend time seeking the magic mushroom when I could be looking for something to eat.

Some cloth even works betteer than others. I have found linen to make the best charcloth, followed by cotton.

Charpunk does have certain advantages. The main one being that it is more durable than charcloth, not crumbling and falling apart. I find it less suceptable to moisture and it holds the spark longer.

I have also chared cat tail fuzz and milkweed pods, works but nothing to brag about.

Best char/tinder material available naturally in the southern states??? WASP NEST PAPER!!!

And do not forget that you have fuzz available from your cotton socks. Bet you could even scrape some from your tidy-whities if you had too. This does not need to be carbonized to catch the spark.

Your cotton ball coated with PJ catches the spark even better in its raw state. The PJ just extends the flame life.

I have often started fires with my flintlock rifle just using the same strip of cloth I make patches from. I carry a strip of linen hanging from a strap, place it over the bore and press a ball into the barrel, then cut the patch. I can stick the end of the strip into the lock and snap the lock for a shower of sparts that is guarenteed to catch anything available. The linen or cotton cloth strip will catch and glow just like any other charcloth. After the end has been slightly burned it will catch as easily as any other charcloth. I have also used lamp wick (the flat wick material from a kerosene lamp) the same way. Cotton rope works well too. They still sell it for making clotheslines. You can fray the end, light it and put it out for a durable piece of char material. You can even get a piece of copper tube at the hardware store and slide the cotton rope inside to protect it. The short piece of pipe also makes a good blow tube to focus oxygen on the tinder during startup.
Come to the dark side, we have cookies!
LDS
 
Posts: 1052
Joined: Sun Mar 16, 2008 3:54 pm
Location: NKY

Re: "Natural" char materials

Postby dixieangler » Fri Feb 26, 2010 12:28 am

LDS wrote:Best char/tinder material available naturally in the southern states??? WASP NEST PAPER!!!


OoooWeee! Just make sure its an old abandoned nest no longer occupied by the owners. Or the owners will make you pay a heavy price. LOL Lots of Guinea (tiny) Wasp nests (and the big Red Wasps) under Palmetto fronds down here so be careful when brushing the fronds out of the way when walking through them. Look before touching a frond (especially under the frond where the nest will be). Its a mistake you don't want to make even once. :shock: If you are walking through Palmettos you should also be looking out for Rattlers down below (we have some really big Eastern Diamondbacks here up to six to eight footers) that love to live in among the Palmettos waiting for a meal (mice or rat usually) to come by. Most of the time they may be there (we miss seeing them) and will not strike because we (large heat signature) don't look like a rat or mouse (small heat signature). But they will strike when surprised or defending themselves especially if you step on or near one. I used to always make a lot of noise knocking Palmettos, stomping, ect. so as not to surprise any Rattlers when going through Palmettos (Rattlers can't hear but do pick up vibrations). Here is a hint though, roasted Rattler tastes better than Palmetto cabbage, grasshoppers, rats and mice, squirrels, etc. This can be dangerous if you hesitate or take your eyes off the snake so you are better off leaving it alone unless you are starving hungry. It will get the nerves, heart, and blood going though because the snake can kill you if you fail and get bit (most bites are dry bites but I wouldn't stake my life on that statistic). LOL Just kill it outright though (you have to pin the head with a long stick when its not coiled), no fun running from an angry Rattler that is charging you and you can make them angry. All it wants is to be left alone. It does not want anything to do with you. They do run from you because they are more afraid of you than you probably are of them.

I can still feel the stings of wasps and yellow jackets I have had just thinking about it. :o The nests are after all just like brown dried out thin paper.
- Robert M.

"I can do all things through Christ, who strengtheneth me." - Paul, c. A.D. 60 (Philippians 4:13)
dixieangler
 
Posts: 1196
Joined: Mon Jan 28, 2008 9:24 pm
Location: Sebring, FL

Re: "Natural" char materials

Postby LDS » Fri Feb 26, 2010 6:05 pm

I stuck my hand into a yellow jacket nest in granpas barn loft back around 1958 or '59. I still remember that incident vividly. When they say you forget pain don't believe them.

I have a big nest in one of the neighbor's trees I have my eye on. One of those big cone shaped paper balls up high where nothing will bother it. I do not know why the neighbor has not cut it down this winter while everything inside it is frozen. That reminds me of the time I brought some firewood inside that had a wasps in a hollow spot inside one log. When they thawed out things got real exciting.

charging snakes, irate squirrels, stampeeding turkeys and savage deer; sometimes one is just forced to defend himself.

'scuse me, I have to fend off the cat and eat my pizza.

Ahhhh, the ultimate kindling, an old greasy pizza box!
Come to the dark side, we have cookies!
LDS
 
Posts: 1052
Joined: Sun Mar 16, 2008 3:54 pm
Location: NKY


Return to Fire

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests