Something that every survivalist, bushcraft or camping enthusiast will be aware of is the “Survival Tin”. These tins come in many forms ranging from ready made tins with survival products already in them (a company called BCB Adventure produce some really good ones), tobacco tins, etc.
My absolute favourite tin though has to be by a company called “Fishermans Friend”, now I’m sure you have all heard of Fishermans Friend and the little paper packets of lozenges designed to help sea fishermen get relief from symptoms of prolonged exposure to wet and cold conditions (and they help us normal folk when we have a cold too). The tin which at the time of writing this is available on a special offer in the UK of exchanging four empty packets of Fishermans Friends for a tin (CLICK HERE TO FIND OUT MORE) is small enough to fit in your pocket but is also robust enough to withstand a few knocks.
Now as an obsessed fisherman myself I have an untouched tin which I use to actually store Fishermens Friends lozenges in. However, I also have another two tins which have an entirely different use and these are what I will go into next.
The first use is as an emergency fishing kit something that almost all survivalist or bushcraft fans have. Now I have purchased many ready made emergency fishing kits and near enough all of them would be inadequate to a non fishing person. For example most of the hooks included in these kits are cheap and also have something called a spade end, now most fishermen need a special tool to be able to tie line onto these types of hooks so how on earth a non fisherman is expected to use these hooks is beyond me.
That is why I decided to make my own emergency fishing kit. The first thing I needed to do was get a suitable container to store the kit in and you guessed it, the Fishermans Friends tin is absolutely perfect.
So what do I put in my fishing kit? Well I have a selection of eyed barbed hooks, the barb helps to prevent the fish coming off and the eye makes it easier for people to tie a knot. I also have a length of paracord this is helpful for creating fishing rods, traps, etc and you can also make a paracord lure in an emergency. I have about 100yds of 30lb braid fishing line which is strong enough to handle most fish you are likely to catch.
There is a selection of small rubber lures which you can carefully nick onto the hook enabling you to catch fish. A selection of fishing weights are in there too as these help get the bait to the bottom or even help to right an indicator/float to help you tell if you have a bite.
Now I have a float in my kit but you can just as easily make one out of a piece of reed or floating wood if there is no room in your kit. Finally I have included a razor blade to help you fillet the fish and also a book of matches to get a fire started to cook the fish.
Obviously without any kind of permission or rod licence, it is illegal to fish in the UK in this manner but it is good practice to learn how to use this kit in the event of a real emergency.
The next use for the Fishermans Friend tin is very simple and if you haven’t guessed yet the second use is as a char cloth maker. If you don’t do much bushcraft or traditional camping char cloth is basically pieces of cloth that have been charred but not burnt.
By charring rather than burning the cloth, it means that the material becomes very flammable and the slightest spark will catch and start the material smouldering.
Once the material is smouldering you can place some tinder (dry leaves, twine, etc) on top of the cloth and gently blow on it which usually results in the tinder catching fire. You can then start adding bigger twigs, branches, etc building your campfire up until it’s as big as you want.
Now there are a couple of ways to do this, the first and most popular (probably due to youtube videos) is to put a small hole in the middle of the tin lid as this allows the gases to escape and you will either get a stream of smoke or sometimes a jet of flame and you tell when it’s ready when the smoke or flame stops. Take it out of the fire and wait for 10-15 minutes for it to cool down before opening it or the char cloth will spontaneously combust.
The thing with the tins that people use such as these Fishermans Friends tins or Altoid Tins is that they aren’t airtight and they also have hinges so you don’t actually need to pierce the lid as there is plenty of places for the gases to escape.
As you aren’t going to get a jet of flame or lots of smoke, you need to ‘cook’ your char cloth a little differently basically you need to put your tin in the fire for 20 minutes and then allow to cool for 25 minutes before opening the tin.
(in my example I ran out of fuel before the time was up but there are a few usable pieces and the rest can be redone when I get some more fuel) If you haven’t pierced the lid you can also use the tin to store your char cloth.
I always fill the tin with strips of either jeans or 100% cotton t-shirts as these work the best. One last word of warning if you have a tin that is airtight such as a shoe polish tin, make sure that you pierce the lid as there is no where for the gases and pressure to release and it could explode sending bits of metal and campfire everywhere.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my latest blog and it has inspired you to have a go. Till next time have fun. 🙂