I don’t live in the past—I only visit—and so can you!

VIKING HIKING X

WARMTH & ILLUMINATION Part Two

Tinder

Everyone should have tinder in their possession during a trek. Tinder is the foundation of your fire. Your sparks sets the tinder afire with careful handling and that then ignites kindling. There are several types of tinder, and more than one type can be used; carry multiple types of tinder if possible, and use them as needed. Good tinder lasts for at least one to two minutes and still works even when damp.

Charcloth

Linen fabric that has been burnt until it is very brittle an flammable. It is created in a method of controlling the air and keeping the combustion level controlled. It remains controversial, since some say that fabric during the period was too valuable to waste for charcloth.

Shavings & Fuel Cubes

Modern woodworking methods produces plenty of sawdust but few shavings. Sawdust or flammable fibers can be mixed with wax to form fuel cubes. However, these are of doubtful accuracy.

Rather, use planers or drawknives to produce wood shavings. These were often used and can be found in some tinder boxes from the period. Whether you add any wax to help flammability is up to you. The wood should be one that easily combusts.

Tinder Fungus

Atlas Obscura notes that “Archeological evidence reveals that at least 7,000 years ago, humans were using several types of dried tree fungus for their fire-starting properties.” In fact, Ötzi the Iceman carried a fungus known as “touchwood” or “punk” as part of his belongings five thousand years ago.

Several types of fungus are classified as tinder fungus, including “horse’s hoof” fungus or fomes fomentarius. They grow in forested regions around the world and are tough and inedible. While there are many ways to prepare the fungus for maximum smolder, the quickest way is to slice away the outer layer of the fungus. Once lit, the slice should smolder for long enough to catch the larger kindling.

From the early medieval period until the invention of the lucifer, a treated fungus product called amadou was widely used to speed the ignition.

Tow

Tow is the fiber of flax, hemp or nettle before it is spun into thread. Cotton works well also but is definitely not period.

Wool is a flame retardant and will not work for fire-starting purposes.

Candle or Wax-Soaked Shavings or Wood

This was mentioned before. Wax is recommended because of the smell of store tallow. A separate candle set on fire at the base of the kindle is also very effective.

Do Not Use Paper

Paper also provides a useful and practical tinder, but since paper was not yet introduced into Europe, so do not employ it.

There are both articles and videos readily available that go into greater depth on the details of any process. Some might work better for you than others, so you should try several methods before decided on which is best for you.

Whatever way you decide to bring, practice first. Be adept at it before venturing into the wilds! However, causing a spark is only the start. You need some kind of tinder to catch any sparks.

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