Flint and Steel Kit Review (and How to Make Charcloth from Nature)
In this latest post on the TI website I’m going to be reviewing another flint and steel fire-making kit created by Mikhail Maletkin of flint-and-steel.com. I will also be showing you how to make your own natural charcloth that takes a spark just as easy as — but creates a longer-lasting coal than — traditional cotton or linen charcloth.
A few months ago I had the opportunity to review a flint and steel fire-making kit made by Mikhail Maletkin of flint-and-steel.com. If you’re at all interested in primitive and ancient forms of fire making and have never seen his kits before, they are truly a work of art. Mikhail comes from a long line of artisan blackmiths, so the skills and methods used in the manufacture of these kits has been preserved and passed down from generation to generation. The latest kit he sent me is no exception…
Flint & Steel Kit Review
This kit, which is described as “Set No. 3”, is housed in a circular fabric cloth (it feels like linen) that is embroidered with a tasteful design, adding to the overall quality and attention to detail that Mikhail puts in all his kits.
Similar to the leather kit I reviewed, this one also contains two rolls of natural jute twine, two chunks of flint, a tin of linen charcloth, a firesteel striker, and easy-to-follow directions. You can watch me demonstrate how to make a fire with one of his kits in this video:
If you’re at all interested in primitive or ancient firemaking methods, and would like to learn a firemaking method that has been used for literally thousands of years, then I highly recommend you pick up a kit from Mikhail. There’s something special about making fire with the same tools our ancestors relied upon to warm their homes and cook their food, that the modern ferro rod and lighter can’t quite reproduce.
If you’d like to pick up one of Mikhail’s kits, be sure to head on over to flint-and-steel.com and pick one up.
How to Make a Long-Lasting Natural “Charcloth”
I thought in addition to providing a review of the kit, I’d take a moment to show you a natural material that makes an incredible “charcloth” you can produce when you run out of the charcloth included in the kit. When converted to char it will take a spark just as easy as — but creates a longer-lasting coal than — traditional cotton or linen charcloth.
The material you’ll use is called is amadou. It’s taken from a bracket fungus found on sweet-sapped trees like birch, maple and beech.
Here’s the process for gathering and preparing this material:
Step 1: Gather “horse hoof” fungus. This bracket can be found on different sweet-sapped trees like birch, maple and beech. In my area, they’re mostly on birch trees that are just starting to die. You’ll want to gather these either on standing dead trees or live trees:
By the time the tree falls, these are usually too rotten to process. Here’s a look at the rotten (black) and fresh (grey) kind:
Step 2: Cut off the hard outer shell. Once gathered, the next step is to shave off the hard top crusty layer with a knife. Here’s the finished fungus after shaving:
Step 3: Slice away the spongy, flexible, soft outler layer. You’ll find this between outer shell and the inner woody pores.
Here’s what the slices look like:
Traditional amadou is processed by placing the slices made above in a mixture that is half wood ash, half water and letting it boil for about an hour. After the boil, you flatten it and let it dry out and what your left with is a very effective tinder that will catch a small spark and smolder, very much like charcloth. While this process is very effective, I find it a bit time consuming so what I prefer to do is simply convert the slices into char by following the steps below:
Step 1: Step one is just to prepare your heat source if necessary. If this is an open flame than make sure it has burned down to a decent amount of coals for a coal bed. Other wise you can just use your grill or stove.
Step 2: Punch a hole in the top cover of the tin with a small nail
Step 3: Fill your tin with your amadou and cover it up.
Step 4: Place your tin on top of the heat source
Step 5: After placing your tin on the heat source you’ll notice smoke starting to come out of the top hole. This smoke will continue until it stops at which time you’ll know the charcloth is complete.
Here’s a video of this process using cotton cloth (the process is exactly the same):
Once your amadou char is created, it can be used like any other piece of charcloth, with the added benefit of the coal lasting much longer than normal charcloth. Here’s a video showing how quick it catches a spark: