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#95865 - 05/28/07 09:07 PM Char cloth and a frensel lense
billym Offline
Addict

Registered: 12/01/05
Posts: 616
Loc: Oakland, California
I was out playing with a frensel lense this afternoon and tried it out on a few types of tinder that I had laying around the house.
By far the best was a piece of char cloth. It took less than three seconds to get an ember once the lense was focused correctly.
I tried Tinder Quick and it did not work at all. I tried char cloth once again to see if it was me but the char cloth went up in less than three seconds again.

Last weekend I was at Damascus Trail Days in Va and there was a youth related outdoor school using bow drills and flint and steel to make fires. The char cloth was key in getting a fire with flint and steel. They aslo used it at times to nurse the ember from the bow drill set ups.

While not waterproof char cloth is by far the best material I have seen to land even the smallest spark onto if you want to start a fire. I have seen the tiniest spark from a flint and steel turn into a glowing ember and then a fire when using char cloth.

I wonder what methods the pioneers and Mtn Folk used to keep their tinder dry without plastic bags and such?

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#95866 - 05/28/07 09:25 PM Re: Char cloth and a frensel lense [Re: billym]
MDinana Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 03/08/07
Posts: 2184
Loc: Deep south... Carolina
Can you explain "char cloth" a bit? I imagine a half-burnt T-shirt or something.

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#95870 - 05/28/07 11:49 PM Re: Char cloth and a frensel lense [Re: MDinana]
raydarkhorse Offline
Addict

Registered: 01/27/07
Posts: 510
Loc: on the road 10-11 months out o...
They sometimes used a waxed leather wallet or a small waterproof tin like the ones that #11 percussion caps come in.
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#95875 - 05/29/07 12:08 AM Re: Char cloth and a frensel lense [Re: MDinana]
Frankie Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 09/19/03
Posts: 734
Loc: Montréal, Québec, Canada

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#95877 - 05/29/07 12:21 AM Re: Char cloth and a frensel lense [Re: MDinana]
billym Offline
Addict

Registered: 12/01/05
Posts: 616
Loc: Oakland, California
Half burnt blue jeans to be exact. smile

Char cloth is pretty much smoldered cotton. It never actaully catches fire. The end product catches the slightest of sparks.

Old school tinder.

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#95878 - 05/29/07 12:25 AM Re: Char cloth and a frensel lense [Re: billym]
OldBaldGuy Offline
Geezer

Registered: 09/30/01
Posts: 5695
Loc: Former AFB in CA, recouping fr...
"...I wonder what methods the pioneers and Mtn Folk used to keep their tinder dry without plastic bags and such?..."


Many used a tinder box , some with a "burning glass" in the lid...
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#95895 - 05/29/07 04:16 AM Re: Char cloth and a frensel lense [Re: billym]
dougwalkabout Offline
Crazy Canuck
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 02/03/07
Posts: 2580
Loc: Alberta, Canada
Just curious:

I notice a lot of cotton T-shirts and jeans are actually 30-40% polyester.

Has anyone noticed a difference in spark-catching ability between "pure" vs. "blend?"

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#95911 - 05/29/07 01:28 PM Re: Char cloth and a frensel lense [Re: dougwalkabout]
OldBaldGuy Offline
Geezer

Registered: 09/30/01
Posts: 5695
Loc: Former AFB in CA, recouping fr...
In my very limited experience, and from what I have read, if it is not pure cotton it doesn't work nearly as well...
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OBG

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#95924 - 05/29/07 03:20 PM Re: Char cloth and a frensel lense [Re: MDinana]
jamesraykenney Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 03/12/04
Posts: 315
Loc: Beaumont, TX USA
Originally Posted By: MDinana
Can you explain "char cloth" a bit? I imagine a half-burnt T-shirt or something.


Ok, let me repost my tutorial from Survival HQ, SERE International...



Lets do this the way that I first did it, because it works, is clean, fast, cheap, and simple...

Get old 100% cotton(vital!!!) t-shirt.
Cut about 6 to 10 1.5"x1.5" squares...
Stack them neatly on top of one another.
Set them on a square of aluminium foil about 6"x6".
Fold the foil around the cloth tightly and crimp tightly around the edges...
Take a needle and punch a small hole in the top of the stack, NOT all the way through...
Hold IN open flame... I use kitchen tongs for this...
Smoke will start pouring out of the hole...
Despite some recommendations to the contrary, I prefer to let the smoke ignite...
When smoke plume stops burning, give it another 8 to 15 seconds in the flame and then remove it from the flame...
Do NOT open it yet... In a normal container, you must wait quite some time before opening it, because the heat will cause the charcloth to spontaneously burst into flames as soon as the air hits it... This is not QUITE so important with the foil method(and such a small batch), because, the whole thing will cool off in a minute or two...That is one of the reasons to start out this way... Nearly instant satisfaction! laugh
Unwrap, and enjoy!!!

If you are right handed...
Try holding the flint in your left hand(palm up) with a piece of charcloth on the left side of the flint, RIGHT along the edge... Hold the steel in you right hand (with the curve down to protect your fingers) and strike down FAST(not hard) the edge of the flint should direct the burning metal(in a real flint and steel, it is the steel that does the sparking) right into the charcloth...

When you get a spark in the charcloth, you will not think much of it...
It will just be a little speck glowing dimly on the cloth...
But, if you blow gently(so as not to blow it away, the stuff is lighter than a feather), it will get very bright and radiate a lot of heat...
The idea, it to put the charcloth in a tender bundle, and blow into that, it will then ignite the fine stuff in the center, which will then ignite the bigger stuff around it, and it will burst into flames... The first time you see it done, you will be surprised at just how fast it goes from nothing into a ball of flame... I am very glad I saw someone do it before I did it, because I would have thought it would just start with a little flame licking out of the top of the tender bundle... It is often anything BUT a little flame!!! Sometimes it even makes a little 'whoosh' sound as it bursts into flame...
You then(QUICKLY) transfer the tender bundle from your hands(by this time, you will not need ANY coaxing to do this! eek ) to your fire lay...

There you have it...
It is a LOT easier in practice, than describing it...


Edited by jamesraykenney (05/29/07 03:26 PM)

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#95925 - 05/29/07 03:23 PM Re: Char cloth and a frensel lense [Re: billym]
jamesraykenney Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 03/12/04
Posts: 315
Loc: Beaumont, TX USA
Originally Posted By: billym

<snip>

I wonder what methods the pioneers and Mtn Folk used to keep their tinder dry without plastic bags and such?


Char cloth is pretty much waterproof... By that, I do not mean that it will work when wet, but that if it GETS wet, it does not destroy it... You can just let it dry out and it will work again.

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