Campfire Making Made Easy

This making a campfire information is from the camping pamphlets that were part of the fire kits that I made and sold during the rendez-vous that I attended in Michigan, Kentucky and have sold on Ebay and other Internet forums.

Making a Campfire Making a Campfire

The Colonial Woodsmen knew that they could survive as long as they had their skinning knife and their fire making kit. “Injuns” may run off with your shootin’ arn, but the knife, flint, and steel were the necessities.

The fire kit should contain everything necessary for you to become an expert at making campfire with flint and steel, and makin’ char cloth. Remember, practice makes perfect.

Campfire Kit Contents (Kit Contents Should be 1 each)

  • Fire Steel Striker
  • Flint Chard
  • Char Cloth Tin w/char cloth
  • Tinder Bundle.

These items can be purchased from many of the dealers involved with the Historical Reenacting participants or maybe even obtained from around your house.

Making the Char Cloth for the Campfire

Char cloth is made by cooking 100% cotton or linen cloth, in a tin (which can be made from candy tins or shoe polish tins). Drill a small hole in the side of the lid where it fits on the tin.  Place small pieces of the cloth in the tin. Align the holes in the lid and the bottom of the tin. Place this into the edge of a fire to heat the can until smoke emerges from the hole.  When the smoking stops, remove the tin from the fire and allow it to cool.  After it is cool open the can and remove the char cloth.

Using the Char Cloth

The most important part of making a camp fire by flint and steel is to have good char. Tear a small portion off one corner of the square of char. Place the remaining piece of char into the middle of the bird’s nest. Place the small portion of char on the edge of the flint chard and hold it in place with your thumb.

Preparing the Bird’s Nest

Using one 6″ piece of jute rope, separate the rope into 4 individual strands. Separate each strand into separate fibers.  Bunch the fibers into a ball of loose fuzz that resembles a bird’s nest.

Using the Steel to Make Sparks

Sharply hit the striker against the edge of the flint chard, creating a spark that catches into the small piece of char cloth.  The small piece of char cloth should hold a small, glowing red spot that is created by the spark.  Drop the small piece of char into the bird’s nest and on the larger piece of char. Carefully fold the bird’s nest around the char. Gently blow into the bird’s nest until flames appear. It is very important that you blow into the nest and do not suck it in – we’re building a fire, not smokin’ rope!

Alternate Materials for Making a Campfire:

Char Cloth

Any 100% cotton or linen cloth. blue jean, flannel shirts or old bath towels  will work just fine.  NO SYNTHETIC MATERIALS.


Sisal rope, jute macrame rope, birch bark, dried leaves of most kind, dried inner poplar bark, dried swamp grass, dried cedar bark.  Shred the bark up fine. Wad the leaves up into a ball.

Other Chars

Horse huff fungus – found on the side of birch trees. Cut them into 1/8” to 1/4” slices and char in the tin like the cloth.  Dried punk wood – oak, maple, birch – all work fine. Slice in 1/8” to 1/4″.

So, now you can try making a campfire the “old school” way. It’s always fun when you can create fire from something other than a match or lighter. Perfect for all pyromaniacs!

Author: Richard Smiley

Edited by: CampTrip.com

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