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Thread: My First Charcloth

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    Default My First Charcloth

    Wise Guru Monkeypork he say:

    Quote Originally Posted by monkey_pork View Post
    Two things will fulfil everything you seek:

    Charcloth.

    Ziplock-bag.
    Ah yes, ziplock bag I have heard of, but what on earth is Charcloth?
    However a quick google later, I was well on the path to enlightenment .

    First I cut up an old T-shirt into small pieces, and stuffed them into an empty syrup tin. I then made a couple of small holes in the lid, and sealed it up.



    I obtained the required bed of hot coals in the traditional manner



    and set the tin on to cook.



    Oh well, Mrs B's out at a hen night tonight, so I might as well be doing something irresponsible .



    After the smoke and flames had stopped, I took the tin off the heat, plugged the holes with a lump of blutack (what else!? ), and left it to cool.



    The results look about right - the only question is, will it take a spark?

    One strike later, and my question was answered.



    RESULT !!!



    Now, does anybody have a spare ziplock bag I can borrow?

    Blutack.
    The Canoeist's prayer: "Lord grant me the serenity to walk the portages I must, The courage to run the rapids I can, And the wisdom to know the difference".

    John Muir Trust - Wild Places for Nature & People.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Blutack View Post
    and left it to cool.
    I remember seeing someone skip this stage. as he opened the tin the charcloth spontaneously burst into flames and was all gone in a second.

    Still it was fun to watch
    John

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    That's an excellent write-up Blutack.



    Charcloth is great, and it'll go from the tinyest of sparks (unless it gets wet). Old, (but clean) denim works very well too, although finer fabrics (finer woven/smaller strands) work better, as there is just more to catch I guess.

    A useful n' quick way to crank some out is to use a blowtorch.

    Make your cooker thus:
    ~120mm of 15mm copper pipe, with about 30mm bashed closed at one end (but around a nail or similar, which you then pull out to leave your vent).

    Roll up a bit of cotton drill / denim / whatever, and push it into the tube, but not too tightly - if it's too compacted in there it won't work.

    Plug the end of the tube with earth, hold the flat end in some split greenwood, blacksmith tongs, err, or I pliers or moles, and heat the tube up with the 'torch by running the flame along the section containing the cloth.

    After that, the same 'watch the flame', 'wait for the smoke to change' and 'hold your nose against the stink/don't do it indoors' things apply.

    Give it a bit longer until it's stopped burning to avoid the whole lot going up in one go, ... tap the earth out, and bag your charcloth.

    If it's not done, shove it back in for a bit and heat it again.

    It is annoyingly amusing when it does all go in one lot because the air gets in too soon. I still loose a few batches like this.

    Now the next question is ... how did you generate the spark ?

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    Quote Originally Posted by monkey_pork View Post
    Now the next question is ... how did you generate the spark ?
    Why, using the traditional bushcraft method of course!



    Only joking. I used my fire steel. I already use it for lighting my stove. IMHO this is the only way to light a whisperlite (unless you don't mind singed knuckle hairs and eyebrows that is ).

    Blutack.
    The Canoeist's prayer: "Lord grant me the serenity to walk the portages I must, The courage to run the rapids I can, And the wisdom to know the difference".

    John Muir Trust - Wild Places for Nature & People.

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    Ha ha, you say that but ...

    Using charcloth with a ferro rod must send it off a treat.
    You know what's coming next I'm sure, but try flint n' steel too. Nicely satisfying.

    Wandering a bit OT now, but as an alternative to lighting propane/MAPP appliances I can wholeheartedly recommend the 'cup safety lighter' you'll pick up from your local welding deopt. Cheap, safe n' does the job and for almost no money. I've used them for ages and can't see any reason not too now.

    ... and going completely OT now, but your picture did bring back memories of the day when ...

    I 'brazed' some 2.5mm FTE mains cable to the engine bay panel of an old Alpha Romeo trying to jump start the bloomin' thing a while ago.

    The only jump leads "wot we had was what we made" from the aforementioned mains cable as that was the thickest cable that I had on the van at the time - it should have been fine - rated for 30A at 240v should have given us what, ooh ... 600A at 12v give or take, plus I doubled it up to give me even more capacity.



    uuhu, uuhu, uuhu was all the Alpha said, stinking of fuel and really struggling to even turn over, and that was with the van attached to it and running at at least 10k RPM to give me the juice.

    This went on for a bit, when we'd noticed that there was a bit of a funny smell ... then there was a bang, quite a loud bang, and the van stopped.

    Luckily the cable exploding where the insulation had melted, and burnt the cars paintwork off on it's way to shorting out on the now exposed metalwork of the car, had only taken out the fuse in the van, and nothing more.

    As we decided that was enough of the days luck used up on that one job, I left a dead Alpha and a pile of stinky, floppy and very hot cable behind.

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    Default First use in anger!

    Had my first chance to try out the charcloth properly on Tuesday.

    It had been raining the night before, so I struggled to find anything dry to use as tinder. However, I found a clump of moss that was only slightly damp, and some fallen oak leaves from under a bush.

    One strike from the spark stick, and I had a nice ember. A couple of puffs, and to my amazement, the oak leaves caught first time!



    However, I'm tempted to put this one down to beginner's luck, as had it actually been raining at the time, I'm sure I wouldn't have found things so easy.

    So, can anyone advise the best source of dry tinder when everything else is wet?

    Cheers,



    Blutack.
    The Canoeist's prayer: "Lord grant me the serenity to walk the portages I must, The courage to run the rapids I can, And the wisdom to know the difference".

    John Muir Trust - Wild Places for Nature & People.

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    Belly button fluff, pocket fluff, birch bark and the stuff you should always carry with you in your other ziplock bag.
    Chris


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    Excellent!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by monkey_pork View Post
    I 'brazed' some 2.5mm FTE mains cable to the engine bay panel of an old Alpha Romeo trying to jump start the bloomin' thing a while ago.

    The only jump leads "wot we had was what we made" from the aforementioned mains cable as that was the thickest cable that I had on the van at the time - it should have been fine - rated for 30A at 240v should have given us what, ooh ... 600A at 12v give or take, plus I doubled it up to give me even more capacity.
    Here lies the problem

    30A at 240v cable is only rated as 30A at 12V. The 240V rating relates to the insulation quality while the amount the cable heats up is determined by the amount of amps going through it, and an amp at 12v heats the cable up just as much as an amp at 240v.

    Doubling up the cables to give you a theoretical 60A capacity was a good idea, but by the sound of it not enough, or maybe one was better connection than the other and took most of the load.

    Don't do this at home kids
    Happy paddling ,
    Rob.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Blutack View Post
    Had my first chance to try out the charcloth properly on Tuesday.

    It had been raining the night before, so I struggled to find anything dry to use as tinder. However, I found a clump of moss that was only slightly damp, and some fallen oak leaves from under a bush.

    One strike from the spark stick, and I had a nice ember. A couple of puffs, and to my amazement, the oak leaves caught first time!

    < -- snipped -->

    However, I'm tempted to put this one down to beginner's luck, as had it actually been raining at the time, I'm sure I wouldn't have found things so easy.

    So, can anyone advise the best source of dry tinder when everything else is wet?

    Cheers,

    < -- snipped -->

    Blutack.
    You did well there, I don't think I've ever had oak leaves catch.
    I'm afraid the best place to find dry tinder in the wet is indeed in another ziplock bag in your pocket/bag ...

    You may get away with the inner most seeds in fluffy seed heads, and if you can get going from there, pine cones are usually pretty reliable. If it's saturated tho' - you are pretty much out of luck (until you dry it off a bit).

    I'd gather stuff when it's dry (or almost dry, then take it home and dry it), pack it, and then use that as required (and replace it as you go along).

    There was quite a useful thread on tinder over on BB in the last week or so which can be found here.

    I have to say that your fry up looks a bit sketchily balanced on the stones there...


    Quote Originally Posted by gwing View Post
    Here lies the problem

    30A at 240v cable is only rated as 30A at 12V. The 240V rating relates to the insulation quality while the amount the cable heats up is determined by the amount of amps going through it, and an amp at 12v heats the cable up just as much as an amp at 240v.

    Doubling up the cables to give you a theoretical 60A capacity was a good idea, but by the sound of it not enough, or maybe one was better connection than the other and took most of the load.

    Don't do this at home kids
    To be fair I probably needed much fatter cable, as that Alpha was probably pulling 100A+in that initial slurp to turn it over. I can't even recall what it was now, some kinda large saloon from the late 1980's/early 1990's, bad design and happily quite dead.

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    Default Awesome stuff - a 'must have'

    Well I had heard about charcloth but never seen it, or even seen it used, but Blutack's excellent 'how to' post spurred me on to have a go. And I am so pleased that I did.

    I used one of the kids old cotton vests (they had grown out of it) and roasted it on a gas burner outside. I am pleased I did it outside as there was lots of rather smelly smoke. The cloth was heated in an old sweetcorn tin which had been opened by one of those safe can openers that means you can put the lid back on - it vented round the edges of the lid and I pushed it down hard when I let it cool after the flames and smoke were done. I think the tin was internally coated and this caused some of the smell. Anyway, I would not have been popular if I had done it indoors

    Once it had cooled I tore off a postage stamp sized bit of the black cloth. I did not hold out much hope, it all looked burned away. I struck the firesteel and shaved off a very weak spark. I generally use a knife to make a big spark when firelighting so did not expect anything from this pathetic flash. Soon after the spark landed on the cloth there was a small red glow. No flame, just a glow. The glow got bigger, and I blew on it. It created a perfect ember! I put it on some paper towel (I was in the kitchen at this point) in no time at all there was flame

    WOW I am totally converted to this stuff! It really is great, all those years using a firesteel and I missed out on this!

    In total it took about 40 minutes to make, with about 20 minutes heating, then letting it cool. I probably have enough for a year.

    My tips for making it are

    1 definitely make it
    2 make it outside

    Thanks for the recipe

    Graham

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    Obviously, I'll have to have a go at this, but it does occurr to me that if you have to carry your charcloth in a sealed container, you might as well have something soaked in petrol?

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    Quote Originally Posted by GrahamC View Post
    I am pleased I did it outside as there was lots of rather smelly smoke. The cloth was heated in an old sweetcorn tin which had been opened by one of those safe can openers that means you can put the lid back on [...] I think the tin was internally coated and this caused some of the smell.
    Sadly, that smell is the smell of charcloth cooking ... and it does stink.

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    Sorry if I omitted to say "don't try this indoors", but I hope the photos made that obvious!!

    The drawback seems pretty obvious in that you also have to bring some dry tinder with you as well, and if you're doing that, why not use cotton wool & vaseline (or something soaked in petrol for that matter Jamie ). I'm going to keep using it for a while though, and see how I get on.

    So why does this stuff work so well then? I'm guessing that because all the volatiles have already been driven off, it burns with a very hot ember, rather than a flame. Can anyone confirm the real reason?

    Blutack.
    The Canoeist's prayer: "Lord grant me the serenity to walk the portages I must, The courage to run the rapids I can, And the wisdom to know the difference".

    John Muir Trust - Wild Places for Nature & People.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Blutack View Post
    The drawback seems pretty obvious in that you also have to bring some dry tinder with you as well, and if you're doing that, why not use cotton wool & vaseline (or something soaked in petrol for that matter Jamie ). I'm going to keep using it for a while though, and see how I get on.
    True, but I guess it's less messy for one thing. I've never actually bothered with the vasaline (!) whenever I've used cotton wool, it's just been cotton wool. I kinda think that if I was going that far, I'd probably just carry a lighter.

    The biggest thing for me, is that it's also a link to a wholly imagined Arcadian idyll, possible the most immediate link. A time where most technology kinda stopped in the year 800, and we all live in a happy hippy-dippy pre-industrial age (with plastic boats of some sort and ziplock bags ... ). Err, ok, maybe forget the bit about the boats, and the stainless cookware, and the other stuff we all own - it's simply that I just enjoy lighting my fires like this, and in truth, if you were paddling past 1200 years ago, it'd make as much sense to you then as it does now (unlike me, who probably isn't making very much sense this evening).

    Quote Originally Posted by Blutack View Post

    So why does this stuff work so well then? I'm guessing that because all the volatiles have already been driven off, it burns with a very hot ember, rather than a flame. Can anyone confirm the real reason?

    Blutack.
    As to why, I guess it's because like charcoal, the material is approaching carbon, and more inclined to catch in an atmosphere containing oxygen - so yeah, kinda as the other compounds have been burnt off in a reducing atmosphere inside the 'cooker'.

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    Well now I just have to make me some of that.

    At last years Achray meet Wayland taught me how to make fire with a flint and steel.

    I was like a Kid when I got a flame, It was like hey everyone look at me I can make fire

    Wasnt so cocky next morning with the bow drill. I put it down to being tired from paddling down and poling back up the river.
    I Started out with nothing! and i still have most of it left.

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