On Discovering Self

"Walk in Peace... Learn from Nature... Find Yourself...

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

On Making Char Cloth

   Another good element or tool to put in your firecraft kit is the combination of flint and steel. This is one of the most primitive means of starting fire, and dates back to the beginnings of the iron age, around 1200 BC. Although  the flint is not the important part, any hard and non-porous rock with a sharp edge will do. It is used to chip off very small pieces of carbon steel off the striker and as the fine particles break off, they oxidize and ignite immediately in the air with a yellow to white spark. The trick is to catch these sparks on a medium that is almost on the verge of igniting itself. This is where the char cloth comes in.
   Char cloth is made, usually from cotton cloth, by heating it in an enclosed container to limit the amount of oxygen that is around the material. The cloth "bakes" without air around it and gets toasted to black "char" and is ready to take a spark that will grow to an ember that can be used to ignite a dry tinder.
   This past weekend, I completed the BushclassUSA elective, "Student Practice for Flint and Steel with Charred Cloth." It was a great lesson in first making charred cloth, then cooling it down and using the freshly made char cloth to start a tinder bundle on fire. Here is the video submission I made for this lesson and it was a great adventure and fun to do. I hope you enjoy watching.

    Please check into learning this great fire starting skill and consider putting together a fire tinder kit that includes a steel and a good piece of flint or chert. Even a piece of quartz can work. This will really add to your adventures in the wild and that my friends is what it is all about. Happy Exploring.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Just Your Basic Twig Bundle Fire

   One of the most used skills in bushcraft is the subset of skills called firecraft. Learning how to "build" a fire, to ignite it in a thousand different ways and to fuel it and to keep it going under all conditions takes hours of practice. The importance of fire is without question and the ability to build one in a hurry can be the difference between life and death.
   Back in 1975, famous grandmaster of bushcraft, Mors Kochanski, did a demonstration and video (read "movie film") of the "Twig Bundle Fire". He showed the advantage of putting together all the twigs and sticks and pieces of wood in the right order and tying them all together so that it was fully transportable, could be ignited at anytime and could be handled in such a way as to get it burning faster, granting the woodsman a great deal of control.
   Flash forward to 2012, and BushclassUSA has made the twig bundle fire part of the skill set being taught through the online course. The lesson, in case you want to look it up, is "Student Practice for the Twig Bundle Fire".
   So this last weekend, I completed this elective and here is the video I submitted for the lesson. I hope you enjoy it.

   As always, I enjoy practicing firecraft and having this twig bundle fire idea in my firecraft tool kit is a great skill to have. It is a great thing to put together and have on hand, especially under conditions that may turn hypothermic. Please consider learning this technique as well and adding it to your firecraft kit and please check out the great lessons at BushclassUSA, found at the BushcraftUSA.com forum site. Until next time, Happy Exploring.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Using Natural Tinders

   This last Sunday, I worked on completing my first lesson for the BushclassUSA Intermediate Certification. It was entitled, "Student Practice for Five Natural Tinders" and it involved finding five natural tinders and then lighting them with a firesteel. I went out on a beautiful spring day and collected all of my tinders and then some. I wanted to experiment with a few others as well as those needed for the lesson, so it was a great adventure gathering all the possibles. I did actually explore a couple of different areas and gathered a good amount of material to play with.
   So here is my video submission for BushclassUSA Student Practice for Five Natural Tinders. It shows the process of gathering and then lighting five natural tinders. The five primary tinders are birch bark, eastern red cedar bark, cottonwood bark (inner layer), cattail seed head and thistle down. I also tried a paper wasp nest (failed to light), golden rod pith (failed to maintain a ember), a bird nest (great success), milkweed seed silk (success) and the pith of the mullen stalk (success). If you want to skip ahead to where the lighting of the tinders is started, that begins at the 6:35 point on the timeline. This was a great lesson and it is always good to become familiar with natural tinders in the area you spend your bushcraft time. I hope you enjoy the video. It is a bit lengthy, but I wanted to share the whole process for those who have no idea where some of these tinders come from.

   There are of course many more natural tinders out there and I will continue to share with you some of my discoveries as I come upon them. So you might consider this part I of a multi-part series. Consider searching out natural tinders in your area and do some experimenting. It's fun and is very much a part of your primary skill set when it comes to bushcraft. Learning to make fire should be at the top of your list. Happy Exploring.


Monday, March 19, 2012

A Day Out With My Bush Buddy Part II

   It was about a week ago, when I was able to get out with my bush buddy for an adventure in firecraft. My mission was to begin to find natural tinders for my next Intermediate BushclassUSA lesson. His mission was to gather the right tinders he would need to build a twig fire from scratch and all by himself. We had a great time and I am so proud of his efforts and how far his bushcraft skills have developed.
   So here is the video of our adventure and his amazing show of skills. Good going buddy...

I hope you liked the video and I am sure we will have many more adventures, as he is growing into a fine bushcrafter. I am hoping he will become one of the youngest to graduate BushclassUSA. Until next time, Happy Exploring.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Bushclass Basic Completed

  It is hard to believe that March is upon us and it has been a strange winter for all of us here in southern Minnesota. The strangest of all of course is the small amount of snowfall we have had so far. I guess I can not complain to much, as it has made for some great outings and has allowed me to finish my BushclassUSA Basic certification. As I have shared with you all in a previous post back in February, it was a great success and a good finish with my final Outing #5. So with that, I celebrated with something that has been a tradition with me since my days in the Boy Scouts. I was able to finally put together my BushclassUSA patches on my day pack, and I must say they look pretty smart to me.
It took a little effort to get the velcro sewn onto the pocket, but now it will allow me to move my patches from one pack to another, depending on just what kind of an outing the day will bring.
   I have found patches to always be a good way to mark a particular event, expedition, adventure or training. I have collected several patches from many of Minnesota's State Parks, and a few from some National Parks and Monuments and also a few showing completion of certain skill sets.
   Although not so bushcrafty, patches are somewhat akin to the very earliest means of recording the passing of events and that was with cave paintings and petroglyphs. The symbols and drawings and carvings found in paleo-lithic times were markers of events and observations by the people of those times. They were important enough to record and remember and pass on, as part of the sharing of experience and to show growth and to add to the collective wealth of knowledge and wisdom that formed their communities.
   I like that my patches show a shared experience and when I meet other members of the bushcraft community at large, if I see the same patch, I will know we have traveled down similar paths to bring us to this place. I hope this will encourage you to find new adventures, and maybe even begin to collect some patches for yourself. Show others how you are getting out there and doing things, getting in some "dirt time" and learning the ways of bushcraft. I can think of no better way of sharing the experience with kids, then rewarding them with a patch for their experience. I think I need to get a few patches for my bush buddy and his day pack. Until then, Happy Exploring.