Black poplar (cottonwood) seed fluff as tinder

In my recent Juhannus 2013 post, I showed some pictures of the large amounts of seed fluff released by some black poplar (cottonwood) trees around town. Naturally (well, for me), one of my first thoughts when I saw it was, “Hmm…I wonder if it’ll take a spark from a ferro rod.” I recently found out. 🙂

The equipment: one carbon-steel knife, one ferro rod and one pile of compressed black poplar seed fluff.

I scraped the ferro rod with the back of my knife once and the fluff caught fire instantly and burned very quickly. The best shot I could get was this smoke:

Actually, the outside of the pile burned quickly. I fluffed it up a little more and lit it again. This time it burned slightly slower, but still way too quickly to get a picture. The aftermath of a few scrapings:

I’d have to say I wasn’t too surprised that it burned up so quickly, as I have found other seed fluffs to do this as well. Anyway, I’m always happy to add a new tinder to my “mental tinderbox”, so I consider it a success. If I were to use it for lighting a fire, I’d light a large amount of the stuff while it’s still fluffy and have a secondary tinder at the ready.

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4 comments on “Black poplar (cottonwood) seed fluff as tinder

  1. Doug. says:

    Nice post and blog… I like to use seed fluff as a char rather than a direct light tinder. I carry a small tin ranger banded to my knife. thanks for the post.

  2. Conrad says:

    I got a good tip awhile ago, if you mix a little lip balm (I know it sounds crazy, bare with me) it slows the burn time a little making it more useful. Here in the U.S., we have Karmex brand which is in a soft paste form and pretty easy to work with. Haven’t tried it myself yet, but a few people I know say it works well.

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