How to Start a Fire without Charcloth

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Preparing a fire on a repeated basis, such as someone in the field or on long journeys away from home does not readily lend itself to the constant use of the material known as charcloth. Instead, in many ways, it was far more practical to use plant fibers for tinder. There are a number of fibers used for this method from cattail heads to amadou soaked in potassium nitrate and dried (amadou is European tree fungus), just to name a couple. Another source might be punk wood, which is the spongy portion of a rotten log. Well dried tinder can be charred in a fire and smothered in a tinderbox for later use.

In this video, Keith Burgess (Le Loup – with the group New England Colonial Living History Group 1680-1760 ( discusses the rationale behind learning to start fires without charcloth and demonstrates how to start a proper fire.

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