Well, not really 1001.

This is partly from a post on Frontier Folk (http://frontierfolk.net/phpBB/index.php) by Michael Galban asking about charcloth alternatives (not necessarily documentable, just alternatives).

My response:

I’ve tried about anything that doesn’t run away. Sometimes using a relatively scientific method to test . I was keeping up with it pretty well, but I lost the excel spreadsheet storing all the data to stupidity — don’t keep your only copy of something on “removable media”. It can get removed when you aren’t around.

Not sure if you mean “not charred” or “not cloth”. I’m assuming the latter for this reply, though commenting on the former. I have found that a lot of things that won’t catch and hold a spark will work after being “charred” like charcloth or after just burning a lot of the volatile gasses and probably just plain water out of them.

Here’s a random list: Yellow dried yucca fiber (vs. the still green scraped), basswood, thistle and dogbane fiber that are prepped for twine making, makes great char. They don’t work so great before charring, though dogbane comes closest. Thistle fluff makes a good spark catcher whether charred or not, but has to be really dry if not charred. I need to try cattail charred — didn’t have much luck with it. The light fluffy stuff on top of phragmites reeds works like thistle down when charred.

Finely shredded river cane leaves work if you char them. (This learned after a stringmaking experiment went bad). Have thought of trying corn silk, leaves, or shucks the same way. I tried these – the silk and shucks work, not the leaves.  The shucks are hit or miss, but the silk works pretty well, at least the already brown and dried parts.  Char carefully, and it’s really delicate when charred – you’ll want a tin or foil or something.

Cypress bark does not catch a spark, whether charred or not. Cedar isn’t great to catch a spark with, but is my favorite tinder.

Various fungi (not good at IDing them) with the thick pithy centers seem to work well once sorta charred — basically dried to a deep chocolate brown. We don’t have many real birch trees, so it’s not the genus that Amadou is, but it still works. The original color ranges from cream to light brown to nearly black with a chocolate center. Puffballs added to tinder make tinder catch better, but don’t catch sparks.

To teach people (especially kids), I’ve been using charred “fluff” — shredded string, cotton or linen thread pulled from fabric, castoffs from twine making, etc., put in a “charcloth tin” and cooked off. If I were in a survival situation, I think this is what I’d want around, as it catches on the first or second swipe with my steel, and you can’t make it go out.

Just found a suggestion from the PaleoPlanet boards – use mullein leaves (not native to NA, but all over now): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aShFULVWkYc

Edited Aug 18, 2012 to add additional suggestions and hands on research.

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