Altoids Tin abuse continues: Making Char Cloth

The Altoids Tin has not fared well in our previous test. As we continue testing the limits; we've found something that it does excel in. To many Folks- making Char Cloth with the Altoids tin is one of the key attributes that is associated  with using it as PSK (Personal Survival Kit) container. I do have some concerns and I'll address those later in the article.

I'll give a quick rundown of how to make Char Cloth for those of you that do not know how. There are many methods and materials I've heard that you can use. This is the way I do it-so I know it works

  1. You will need hot coals from a fire ( you can also use your coals on your grill if you live in the suburbs or city)
  2. Then take a small nail and tap a hole in the tin. (Altoids Tin or any Tin container)
  3. Cut up small square pieces (2"x 2") of 100% cotton fabric (t-shirt or jeans work well) and place in container. Do not compress it and pack it in.
  4. Place the closed container on the coals with the hole on top.
  5. Within a few minutes the hole will begin smoking. 
  6. Watch until it stops smoking. Pull the tin off the coals once the hole has stopped smoking.
  7. Allow tin to cool. DO NOT OPEN BEFORE COOLING. The cloth may com-bust and you will have to start all over.
  8. Once the tin has cooled you will have Char Cloth. 
If you open your tin and the cloth is a brown color- place it back on the coals. You have over cooked it if the cloth is brittle and falling apart.

Char Cloth after its taken a spark
So the Altoids Tin was a stellar performer in regards to making Char Cloth. But in a survival situation would I want to use my Kit container to make Char Cloth? No not at all. Primarily because I carry tinder in my kit, that I feel is superior to Char Cloth. Reason #2 I do not want to put my gear back in a kit that has been covered in smut. Reason #3 Your Survival kit container would then become a Char Cloth container due to its fragile nature. In turn you will have to figure out how to store and secure you survival gear.

A PSK is meant to help you survive short term.I personally see Char Cloth construction as a long term survival skill. Waterproof tinder should be a priority when selecting items to place in your survival kit. Char Cloth at least to me; is inferior to many other available options. Char Cloth does has the advantage of being windproof. But Cotton balls and Petroleum jelly are much quicker to manufacture as well as being waterproof. They also has a longer burn time than Char Cloth.

Keep checking back as we continue putting the Altoids Tin to the test over the next few weeks.


  1. Good post. I agree with you. Char Cloth is a great thing to know how to make and works well, but is not my first choice in fire-starting gear.

    1. Thanks Watchful. So true, there are so many more waterproof options out there for tinder. Something else that I had thought about after the post- You would also have to use your clothing to make the char cloth. That is your first line of defense against the elements.