Easier amadou?

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rmsmith

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Jun 20, 2018
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Hi all,

I had a quick question for those that make amadou. I'm in the process of making a very small amount at home. It's not proving particularly easy in South East London. Can't use the kitchen, so I've been putting a billy can in a chiminea in the garden with lumpwood charcoal to keep it on the boil without too much smoke.

My question is, does amadou need to be on a rolling boiling for these really long periods of time? would steeping in really hot water in an old Thermos flask get a result?

Cheers,
Rob
 
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Hi all,

I had a quick question for those that make amadou. I'm in the process of making a very small amount at home. It's not proving particularly easy in South East London. Can't use the kitchen, so I've been putting a billy can in a chiminea in the garden with lumpwood charcoal to keep it on the boil without too much smoke.

My question is, does amadou need to be on a rolling boiling for these really long periods of time? would steeping in really hot water in an old Thermos flask get a result?

Cheers,
Rob
Rob I have never heard of this method being used for Amadou, so I can not advise. I do not use Amadou because the horse hoof fungus does not grow here. There are many other plant & fungi tinders that are much easier to find & use. Punkwood probably being the best, but there are others.
If you want to know more let me know.
Regards, Keith.
 

Sundowner

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There's a video by Rune Malte Bertram-Nielsen on YT. HE BOILS IT FOR AN HOUR but the important thing seems to be to boil it with a good portion of birch ashes.
I never tried that, but will sometime soon. So far I cut off the outer hard layer, then cut the amadou. What I did differently is get the bits and put them into a tin and treat them like char cloth. However, you really should cut very, very thin layers
 
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Toddy

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I boil mine, but I only boil it up enough to let the ash water really soak the pieces. Then I just leave it to soak overnight. Heat it up again the next day, lift it out and let it drain, and then I bash it on a stump with a rounded bit of wood.
If you're careful with the bashing it'll spread out the amadou without shattering it into shreds. It should end up as thin as suede leather. At that point you sit down and work it with your hands, working fine ash into it. Hardwood ash that is. You do this until it's as soft as that aforementioned suede leather. It ought still be soft when it dries out too.
Takes a spark really easily and will glow beautifully.

I know folks say to boil it in urine, but all that does is give salts to the piece, well with the tannins too I suppose. It's not 'necessary'.
I have theories as to the origins of that process, and it's not to do with firelighting but natural dyeing. We use ammonia to extract dyes from difficult plants, like fungus, but if you use fomes for dyeing (browns, muted greens) then the resultant stuff is still pretty good to use for firelighting amadou :)

Incidentally, don't dump the grainy/fine tubular parts, slice them up thinly and let them dry. If you finally get an ember going (and it can be a tidy catch plate beneath the cone of hot dust coming from the firebow/drill) get the ember to give an edge of glow to a bit of the dried stiff stuff, set that into a fork of a split stick stuck into the ground and any breeze will keep that quietly glowing while you blow the ember up into flame. If the attempt doesn't work you've got another ember to give it an other go.
The dried stiff stuff also makes a decent nest to keep an ember alive for hours if need be.

M
 

rmsmith

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Jun 20, 2018
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Thanks for the tips everyone. Lots to experiment with.

I know folks say to boil it in urine, but all that does is give salts to the piece, well with the tannins too I suppose. It's not 'necessary'.
I have theories as to the origins of that process, and it's not to do with firelighting but natural dyeing. We use ammonia to extract dyes from difficult plants, like fungus, but if you use fomes for dyeing (browns, muted greens) then the resultant stuff is still pretty good to use for firelighting amadou :)
M
This is very interesting!

Have you tried soaking hoof fungus (over days) rather than boiling? I've read that boiling speeds the process up but does the same thing. I just can't see our ancestors using a pot in this way, boiling for hours on end for a bit of tinder. Soaking makes more sense.

Mixed results at my end. To start with, this batch isn't actually Horses Hoof but I think a chunk of Ganoderma, so my expectations were low. I did end up boiling for about 8 hours. It's ended up with more of a leathery (very slightly suede) surface. I haven't been able to get it to light with flint and steel. On the plus side it takes a ferro rod spark so not a total waste of time.
 

Toddy

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If you don't have a lot of pots, and mind in the past every pot was hand made, so rather more intrinsic value that mass produce like ours, then the shorter time one is tied up doing something, the better. Though I suppose it could be done in a bladder :dunno:
Anyhow, if the fire's lit, then a pot sitting simmering in the hot ashes is not a bother, while one sitting just steeping might be an annoyance.....I know, I know, I'm a housewife and one whose husband has been known on occasion to lift a pot lid and ask, "Dye or dinner ??", :rolleyes:
Soaking does work well to release the dye of things like lichens, or berries which are really better fermented, long and slow. It doesn't seem to make much difference to the dye from the fomes, or the chagga either. When working and demonstrating the dyebaths are often left for weeks at a time, so I do see where you're coming from, just that I don't find it makes enough of a difference (any, really) to deliberately have it hanging around. It's not going to harm it if you leave it sitting for a while though.
If I need the amadou, I just get it over and done with, and mind and add the ashes.
 
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rmsmith

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Great info, thanks.

I assumed that the boiling + changing water for 24 hours was the only option but seems like there's plenty of ways to go about it. Hopefully I'll be able to find some hoof fungus one day to test it out!