How To Make Charcloth

How To Make Charcloth

Tinder that can hold a dull ember from a flint and steel can be hard to come by. Charcloth is essentially charcoal but made from cotton products, not wood. Produced by burning an old t-shirt or tea towel (the thicker the better) in an environment void of oxygen (an old clean paint tin). See below for what is required and how to make charcloth.

Equipment Required

Tea towel/T-shirt (must be 100% Cotton)

Metal tin, (old paint tin is best)

Scissors or knife


How To Make Charcloth

  1. Light a fire, allow to burn down to a bed of strong embers.
  2. Meanwhile, cut the tea towel or T-shirt into long thin strips and roll into a Swiss roll shape.
  3. Pack the rolls of tea towel tightly into your Tin. Secure the lid and punch a hole in the top with a screwdriver.
  4. When the fire has died down to a steady bed of embers place the Tin on top of the embers and pull a few 1-2cm up the sides.
  5. After 15-20 mins smoke will begin to leave the Tin through the hole in the top. Do not allow this smoke to catch fire else your charcloth will ignite.
  6. Wait until the smoke stops coming out of the hole plug it with a stick, remove it from the fire and allow to cool. Do not open the Tin as this will cause the charcloth to ignite.
  7. When the Tin has completely cooled, remove the lid to expose your new charcloth

Charcloth is very dry so ensure it is kept in a water-tight container. Failing to do this will result in the Charcloth absorbing ambient moisture. When you come to use it, it will struggle to hold an ember.

There you have it, a simple tinder produced from a tea towel that would have been thrown away. This method can be replicated with punky wood, or thin twigs to make charcoal pencils.

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