If you've ever operated a barbecue grill, you'll no doubt be familiar with charcoal. These small black briquettes were created by thoroughly heating wood in the absence of oxygen. This causes a chemical reaction that chars and blackens the wood, while restricting oxygen so the wood doesn't start to burn. The same principle is applied to charcloth, a material we've discussed here many times in the past. By cutting up old cotton rags or T-shirts and charring them, you can have a supply of instant tinder material on hand. This can be a real life-saver during the cold winter season.
Last week, we talked about how to char cloth in an unconventional vessel — instead of a hard metal container, a few sheets of aluminum foil will suffice. Today, we'll turn the tables and show how to use a traditional charring vessel, but some very unconventional materials. Since it's possible to char wood pulp and cotton fabric, logic dictates that it should be possible to char just about any type of plant material. Then again, some substances may work better than others, so testing is necessary.
In a video titled “What else can you Char? Beyond Charcloth”, popular YouTube survivalist AlfieAesthetics documents the effectiveness of various charred materials. These include spruce needles, two types of fungus, damp moss, tree bark, pine cones, acorn caps, chestnut husks, and even some scraps of meat. Check out the video below:
The fact that all materials aside from the meat burned relatively effectively shows that charring isn't restricted to coal or cloth. Pine cones seemed to be especially valuable, as they tend to burn well even before charring. If you're out in the woods and have an air-tight and fireproof vessel, you should be able to create some charred tinder with relative ease. It sure beats struggling in vain to ignite some wet bark shavings or twigs on a cold day.