STEP 1 Make a small hole in the top of a metal tin or box that closes tightly.
STEP 2 Fill the tin with scraps of cotton or linen cloth (it needs to be all natural; no synthetic fibers).
STEP 3 Place your container in the coals of a fire. Smoke should start streaming steadily out of the box’s vent hole. Keep it in the fire for 5-6 minutes.
STEP 4 When the time has passed (or it stops smoking), use a stick to roll the tin out of the fire and onto the ground. Don’t open the can until it cools completely. The resulting cloth should be all black and have a silky texture but not fall apart. Now you have tinder that you can carry with you until you need it for fire starting in almost any situation.
STEP 5 When you need tinder, pull the char cloth out and strike sparks onto it. You could also concentrate sunlight through a magnifying lens onto the char cloth. Once lit, it should burn slowly and steadily.
STEP 6 Place the burning char cloth into a bundle of tinder and blow into flames.
And if that’s not enough, you can:
Follow Tim on Twitter @timmacwelch
Take one of his survival classes at www.advancedsurvivaltraining.com
and check out more of MacWelch’s outdoor skills and survival articles at Outdoor Life Magazine’s survival site, The Survivalist.