Just strike a spark onto a very small piece of this finest quality charcloth: quite literally, one single spark is enough to get it going. Blow gently, add your smallest twigs and dried grass, and within seconds you will have flames.
Also perfect for all those historical re-enactors out there with tinder boxes that won't work properly, or who need to start fires in front of the public at Living History events. So, throw away those safety matches and take a step back in time....
Lots of information about using charcloth, including preparation, permission, Hints and feathersticks below - just keep scrolling down.
To Order: The Charcloth is packed in a resealable air-tight grip-top bag, and posted in a custom-made cardboard postal packet, to ensure that it arrives in perfect condition. It is best kept in the air-tight bag as it must not be allowed to get damp. It is also fragile, and easily crushed (although it still works perfectly well) so while you are travelling, it is best kept in a box.
Each bag contains three pieces of charcloth, totalling over 50 square inches per bag.
The price is £5.00 per bag, including post and packaging. If you require more than one bag, just multiply up.
To order, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your full name and address and your requirements.
You can pay by internet bank transfer, by PayPal, or by posting a cheque: let us know which payment method you prefer and we'll send you the payment details.
For PayPal, we'll invoice you, so if you have an account just send us that email address: if you don't have a PayPal account, you can still pay that way: PayPal allow you to pay as a "guest" with your own credit card. Simple and quick! Just email us at email@example.com and we'll invoice you: when you receive the email from Paypal, just follow the simple instructions to use your own credit card to pay the invoice.Don't forget to include your full postal address on the email.
This is an essential first step. If you don't own the land, then you must find out who does, and ensure that you have their permission to light a fire. Don't assume that "it will be ok" because all land is owned by somebody.
NEVER light fires on moorland, not even camping stoves or barbeques, the risk of a spreading fire is very high. Likewise, lighting a fire on peat can be massively dangerous, as the underlying peat can catch fire, and can start a fire which spreads underground. (Not sure if you can recognise peat? When you ask for permission, if the area is peaty, you will be told "No!")
It is also illegal to light a fire within 50 feet of the centre of a carriageway, that being defined as any way over which the public have right of way for the passage of vehicles: that means BOATs, RUPPs, and (to be safe) any track that looks as though vehicles have been along it.
Firstly prepare your fire site: ensure the ground is cleared back to hard earth, and is away from overhanging branches. If there is grass, lift turves in blocks and stack well away from the fire. If the ground feels damp, arrange a bed of dry branches to insulate your fire. Check that the ground is not full of roots - especially near pine trees or birches - otherwise the ground may catch fire. This would be bad.
Collect a good pile of dry wood and arrange in piles according to size, ready for use. Dry wood can be found as fallen branches, or as "standing" wood, where branches have broken off a tree but not quite fallen to the ground yet. You will need:
- Tinder: being dry bark, shavings, tiny twigs, dead and dry plant stems, dead grass: pocket fluff and cotton wool can be used if necessary.
- Kindling: pencil sized twigs, dry enough to snap easily.
- More kindling: you always need more than you think you will.
- Finger-thickness branches.
- Wrist-thickness branches.
Branches with the bark still on them will not light as readily as split wood, so use a knife or axe to split a good handful, to help estabish your fire. Prepare a good double handful of tinder: it should be about the size of a grapefruit when compressed in your hands. Make sure it is really dry, otherwise it won't light.
Having made the "grapefruit", split it open a crack with your thumbs, place a small piece of charcloth in the centre, and use steel and striker ("flint and steel") to drop sparks down onto it. One spark on the charcloth is enough: lift the "grapefruit" up to your face and blow gently into the centre: you will see the red glow, instantly. Start a rhythm of blowing gently into the centre for as long as you reasonably can, then using your thumbs to fold the grapefruit closed as you take a breath in. Having inhaled, open the grapefruit and blow again - steadily, rather than hard - and continue to do this until flames appear.
As soon as you have flames, place the grapefruit down on the bed of dry wood and quickly place a handful of kindling over it. Gently add more, a little at a time. Once the kindling has caught the flames, start adding the finger sized wood and gradually build it up as normal.
Once you have finished with your fire, ensure it is fully out: spread the embers out and douse them with water, then scoop them all up together with your bare hands and then scatter them. If they are too hot for you to pick up, then you haven't finished extinguishing it properly.
Replace the ground covering: if grass, replace the turves that you lifted: if not; scuff back the loose covering of dirt and debris so that no-one can tell that you have been there.
Just the best invention in the world - in my opinion - of firestarting. Take a piece of split wood, and run the blade of your knife or axe down one corner of it, taking a thin sliver (the thinner the better) which should curl away from the blade, but not cutting right down to the bottom. The finer your curls, the more easily it will light.
Strike a spark onto the charcloth - here, using the basic Army Surplus sparking kit, which cost about a fiver:
If you leave it alone at this point, it will continue to quietly smoulder, almost invisibly..... but by blowing gently on it, you will see it turn bright red and glow. The trick is to blow steadily, not to blow too hard. Gently does it - once you have glowing embers, continue to blow steadily.
The fluffed-up curls catch fire, we have actual flame, and the whole feather stick can now be placed onto your fire site, and the first layer of kindling laid gently on top of it. Best of all, no need to burn your fingers as you have a handy handle!
Charcloth Tricks of the Trade
- Learn the difference between tinder and kindling....
- Your tinder must be absolutely dry, and preferably warm.
- The finer your feather stick, the more easily it will light . (But you can see in the Featherstick section above that even a roughly made, coarse, horrible one will still do the job.)
- Practice making sparks onto the charcloth: if you find that they fly outwards, try holding the charcloth down with the end of the steel, and chipping downwards with the striker. On windy days, it also prevents the charcloth blowing away.
- Prep, prep, prep: assemble all the dry wood etc that you will need before you start making sparks. Sort it by size, and get a good, big, double handful of tinder.
- This is the difference: tinder (bone dry, fluffy, small, goes in your grapefruit, eg dry grass, bark, clematis heads...) is designed to catch fire easily but won't burn for long: and kindling (small twigs, split branches etc about pencil size, dry enough to snap easily) needs to take the flames before the tinder burns out.
- Keep your charcloth in a tin or box: take out what you need then close it, otherwise one stray spark and you'll be back here buying more charcloth...
- Fire Dogs: lay two biggish logs one either side of the fire site, place your grapefruit or feather stick between them and kindling on top: larger wood can be rested across the logs to catch fire without squashing the new fire. Also creates a mini-wind tunnel for added ventilation.
- Use old embers: if you are returning to a previous site, or starting a new fire in the morning, then use any old embers, part-burned wood, charcoal etc you can find as your insulating layer. They will catch fire much more quickly than fresh wood, and will quickly create a hot heart to your fire.
- Don't make wigwams: they either create a hollow heart and go out, or they flare up then collapse, squashing the fire. Use fire dogs to support logs across your fire.
- Be patient, and keep trying. If you nearly succeed, then at least everything will be warmer for your next try. Charcloth is so good at catching a spark that you might think you have failed whereas actually you have succeeded. Blow gently to see if it is glowing.
" How much do I use? "
Normally about one square inch is enough: in the Featherstick photos, I have used a strip about 2" long and ½" wide. Practice striking sparks onto small pieces, you will soon learn how much you need. The drier your tinder, the less charcloth you will need.
" Can I use the broken bits? "
Certainly, just push them into the centre of your tinder "grapefruit" and strike a spark.
" Can I pay cash? "
Of course, at your own risk: sellotape the coins to a piece of cardboard though, to prevent theft. And don't forget to include your name and address.
If you have any queries, you are most welcome to read through the Frequently Asked Questions , and if by any chance that does not help, do feel free to Email us on firstname.lastname@example.org