Natural Tinder – Cattail
Cattail may possibly be one of the most useful plants in a wilderness self reliance situation. It can be used in one way or another for all of the following priorities out in the wild outdoors: Shelter, Fire, Food, Water. Today we are going to look at one aspect of how Cattail can be used to make fire. The fluffy material on the seed head at the top of the Cattail (sometimes called Duff) is one of many items that nature provides that can be easily ignited as a tinder when it is dried out later in the year. Although it does ignite easily it doesn’t typically burn very long. It should probably be used in conjunction with other tinders and/or some really good thin and dry feather sticks. Its best use may in fact be for carrying an ember in case you needed to move fire. Cattail duff can also be used in conjunction other dry natural tinders in a “birds nest” and blowing that material into a stronger more sustainable flame. You may want to use Cattail to carry an ember in the following type situation. For example you had only one match left and you got a fire started but then realized you needed to move to affect self rescue. You could use the fire you started with your match to ignite one end of a cattail head and allow that to smolder while you move your camp. In this video I let a piece burn for about 15 mins total and it had about another 15 mins to go. So you may be able to get thirty mins or more of time out of just one cattail head. Obviously if you had several pieces you could move the fire quite aways. You could also use the Cattail duff to make a charred material that could later be ignited into an ember using a spark (I will try to do a post on how to do that soon).
Take a look at the following short video to see how use Cattail as a natural tinder and how to prepare the Cattail for ignition and how it can be used to carry an ember.