One of the big debates over jute twine and its properties is whether it is considered a natural tinder or a man-made tinder. After doing some research, the answer to the question is clear. Jute is a natural fiber and the process in which we buy it from the store is man-made. But whether this resource is all it has cracked up to be from a woodcraft or survival perspective is what I want to prove to you.
The challenge overall is not just the properties of tinder. You know the ones: it should have enough mass to catch a spark, it should be able to hold flame long enough for you to add kindling to the fire, it should be light and transportable, it really should have fine fibers in order to be easily lit through various methods, and I am sure the list goes on. The challenge comes from the last one in the list, “be easily lit through various methods”.
I was able to take this challenge and light jute twine via three separate methods: ferro rod, solar, and flint and steel (with modification). There were two difficult parts of this challenge. One was just the monotony of processing the twine. First you have to unwind it, then separate it, then unwind the smaller strands, and finally pull them apart into something that looks like it might have come from an Angora Cat. The second, more difficult one, was actually lighting jute twine with flint and steel, but more on that later.
Taking my three softball sized balls of processed twine outside, yes outside. I did the processing to kill time while listening to a conference call. I then lined them up easiest to hardest.
First, the ferro rod. I purchased the 1/2″ x 6″ version of what I like to call a fire stick from Self Reliance Outfitters and this thing throws sparks better than a box of sparklers on Independence Day. It took two strikes for me to light up the day with the jute twine. Yes, two. I did not have the angle right on the knife on my first strike. So this one was definitely the easiest.
My second feat to obtain fire was to ignite the puffed up ball with the sun. Since all resources are consumable, we must also think of a way to conserve resources when we have the chance. By using a magnifying glass or fresnel lens, you can save the matches, lighter, or ferro rod for days when it is cloudy outside or if you have to light a fire at night. Always using our instincts, we must use our heads as well as we use our resources and not just use the next best gadget.
The last one, and in my opinion, the most difficult, was igniting jute twine the real old fashioned way with flint and steel. I have a great steel from Wolf Creek Forge and a good box of flint, so causing a spark is not an issue. What I found to cause me the most problems, and cuts on my hands, was the jute not taking a spark. I fluffed it and reprocessed it, nope. I took some and added lighter fluid to it, nope. I made a new ball and started over, nope. Finally, after an hours worth of attempting to force the ball of processed twine into taking a spark, I used char cloth. I caught an ember almost immediately and added it to the tinder bundle and poof, up in smoke.
What I learned from this is, although you do all the things right in a perfect setting, it does not mean you will accomplish the goal one hundred percent of the time. It also means, I need to keep trying. I will try this challenge until I cannot get it wrong and it will be one more thing I can add to my skill level and know that regardless of the situation, a fire will be made.
You can watch my adventures in the attached video. When you are done, hit the Like Button and certainly subscribe to the channel.
Use your instincts to survive