Char Cloth

Char Cloth: What Is It and How Can You Make It?

When it comes to basic survival skills, being able to create a fire without a match is vital. Your body only needs to drop by 2° for hypothermia to start taking effect. Having the right equipment to start a fire can save lives. But, it can also help those who like to camp out under the stars. Heaving a good supply of char cloth can help in many situations.

For those beginner campers or survivalists, you may not know what char cloth is. The following article will cover what char cloth is and how you can make it at home.

What Is Char Cloth?

Char cloth is a product which should find a place in any campers equipment. It’s the perfect resource to be used as a fire starter to take you back to the traditional flint and steel method.

A single piece of char cloth can easily catch the sparks to ignite. The best part is, it’s windproof. Keep a supply of these, and you won’t have to go through a box of matches due to the wind.

Not only is it windproof, it actually uses the wind to help fuel itself into a flame. With a box of char cloth, you will be able to build a fire in almost any situation with ease.

How Do You Make Char Cloth

If you go to any outdoor goods store, you should be able to purchase char cloth. However, a wiser choice may be to save your money and convert your old clothes. Use your money on the rest of your camping checklist.

Making char cloth is actually a reasonably simple thing to do. The only equipment you need is a small tin, a drill, any old 100% plant fiber clothing, scissors, and a fire.

Create Your Char Cloth Tin

Find yourself a small tin for your char cloth tin. A popular choice would be an Altoid mint tin. This size is ideal because char cloth doesn’t need to be significant, and it is easy to store in your backpack.

Take your power drill and make a hole through the center of the lid. Continue through to make another hole on the adjacent spot on the base of the tin. If you don’t have a drill, use a hammer and nail to create the holes.

Cut Up Your Material

Take your old 100% plant fiber clothing and measure up your tin. Cut your clothing to a size slightly smaller than the tin itself, roughly around 2″ X 3″. Repeat this process as often as the clothing allows.

Make sure you don’t make your char cloth out of such materials like polyester. We don’t use such materials because they will melt under heat, and your final product won’t work.

Bring the Heat

The next step is to place the tin into a source of heat. The most efficient source is a bed of coals within a fire pit. If the source is too hot, it will ignite the cloth, ruining the end product.

Leave the tin to cook in the heat source until you see smoke coming from the hole. This is a sign that the char cloth is cooking. Once the smoke stops, flip the tin over and cook the other side.

Let It Cool

Once the final smoke has disappeared, remove the tin and let it cool off. Not only do you not want to burn yourself, but opening the tin too soon can potentially ruin the char cloth.

If the char cloth hasn’t cooled enough, the oxygen in the air could ignite it. Leave the tin closed until you are sure it’s cooled. Try burying the tin in the ground to deprive it of oxygen until it is ready.

Check the Final Product

Cooking your char cloth is very similar to Goldilocks and the three bears. It needs to be just right. Finding a piece of char cloth that is perfect can come down to a few aspects.


There will be visible sections that have maintained their original color. If you find your char cloth undercooked, rearrange them to place the uncooked ones on the outside. Cook them again.


If you have overcooked your char cloth, you will find them to be very brittle and delicate. IF they crumble easily when you pick them up, then, unfortunately, they won’t work. You will need to start again.

Just Right

The perfect char cloth is entirely black on both sides. It should also still be slightly soft and maintaining its original shape. If any aspect is slightly off then, you may need to recook or restart.

How can Char Cloth Start a Fire?

Once you have completed the process, all that is left is to test a sheet by igniting it. If you don’t already own one, you should purchase a set of flint and steel for this part.

Flint and Steel

The traditional method of igniting char cloth is by using your flint and steel. Hold the steel in one hand aimed towards the char cloth and the flint in the other. Face the sharpest edge towards the steel.

Strike the flint down onto the steel to create the sparks needed to ignite the char cloth. Repeat until the char cloth ignites. Blow the char cloth to ignite the surrounding tinder.

If you would rather use a more modern method to the flint and steel, look into purchasing a Ferro rod. A Ferro rod has the same outcome, but it is more reliable than flint and steel. Or read our comprehensive review of the best camping axes and hatchets.

Become the New Bear Grylls

Keeping your camping gear stocked with char cloth is an intelligent choice. This is a great way to keep warm, but you will also gain a new level of respect for fires.

Are you planning a camping trip in the near future? If so, make a fair few char cloth sheets first. Take the opportunity to truly impress your friends with your survival skills.

If you learned something new with this article, check out our other camping-related reads. Who knows what else you will learn. We also cover other outdoor topics such as Hiking, Kayaking, and Fishing.