Chipmunks and Charcloth

While camping in Algonquin Provincial Park recently, I needed to make some charcloth. Charcloth is what I use to catch sparks from my steel fire striker.

Prior to the trip, I cut up an old cotton work shirt into small 1-inch squares, and placed them in an empty zinc oxide ointment tin (used for the baby). After the campfire had burned low, leaving just embers, I poked a hole in the lid of the tin with my knife. Then I closed the lid, and placed the tin onto the glowing embers. White smoke began to pour from the hole in a hypnotic laminar flow.

Within a few minutes, the white smoke began to appear more transparent, as the water content of the cotton and pyrolosis began to take place. As soon as the smoke cleared, I took the tin off of the embers, and poked a twig into the hole to seal it off.

Sealing it off prevents oxygen from entering the tin, stopping the charcloth from smouldering and ensuring that carbon compounds remain within the fabric matrix.

Making charcloth is very satisfying.

As this took place, an Eastern Chipmunk (Tamias striatus) made an appearance.

Tamias is Greek for one who stores, striatus for striped.

We had scattered little pieces of granola bar on the ground for him to eat.

He stuffed the pieces in his cheek and then ran off quickly in various directions, hoarding and storing the food in small caches.

This little fellow thought he could stealthily sneak up and take pieces of granola bar we had scattered on the ground for him, without being noticed.

We noticed him.



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