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Sunday 10 April 2011

Traditional Amadou prep (part 1) Lye solution

We can make our amadou very easily with potassium nitrate and it works every time, but out in the field with next to no true tinder fungus in this part of the world how can we get artists conk to take a spark easily? Now I've heard guys say they just fluff it up and it takes a spark straight away but that doesn't work for me and I've noticed a few other people also tell the truth and say it doesn't work for them either, and that they have to prepare it before hand, and that's what works for us. So to prepare amadou in a traditional way we first need to prepare a lye solution, and this is how we do it although you may do it differently and if you do, let me know your recipe!!

Main component is some very well burnt down wood ash, any excuse for a fire!

Next we remove the white wood ash from the charcoal, I know some guys who just boil it in the wood ash but we've found after numerous tries that the ash can block the amadou and prevent a clean long lasting smoulder.

Next we boiled up 2 litres of water with the wood ash to form the lye, you can also just pore the water over the wood ash and collect it in a bucket but we've found we get a more concentrated product this way.

Then strain the solution to prevent any material clogging the amadou, at this stage we are hoping for a urine coloured liquid to show that enough ash has dissolved in the water, depending on the wood used this colour can vary between green/brown/yellow. Once we have the liquid strained we reduce it to about 1/6th of it's original volume and we've found this is about the right strength for the amadou.

The finished product. Now all you have to do is soak the fungus in this solution and pound it flat and once it's dry you're all set to go.
Please note that this finished solution can be very caustic so don't get any on your skin and if you're going to keep it for later use store it very safely!
If we come across any good ganoderma next time we're out I'll put up another post showing how we finish prepping it, but really it's dead easy from here on!


  1. Good post,ill have to give this a try.

    Fluffed up amadou does work but is not easy and by saying you have noticed other guys that tell the truth you are as good as saying those that say it works are lying.?

    I have heard guys say they couldn't get a spark to take on crampball fungus from a flint and steel,its not easy but I have gotten cramballs to take a spark on numerous occasions.

  2. Excellent post, I have never heard of this method being used for Amadou. Have you tried simply charring it like other plant tinders?
    Regards, Le Loup.

  3. The thing is that one needs to be clear when stating that a certain tinder will take a spark. There is a certain well known video bushcrafter/survivalist who tends not to show & tell everything, this can make it very misleading for beginners. IF a steel is working properly & delivering good sparks and it is still difficult to catch a spark on certain tinders, then they should state that fact.
    A tinder that will not catch a spark easily under favourable conditions is as bad as a tinder that will not catch a spark at all. Because in unfavourable conditions it probably won't catch a spark.

  4. Great one, I have to have a go at that!

  5. When you say that the liquid is reduced to about 1/16th of its volume, do you mean that it is concentrated by boiling off the excess water?

  6. Yep, thats exactly what I mean.

  7. Thanks for the info. Got some fresh Horsehoof from Wilderness Gathering last Friday (doesn't grow down here down southwest). Am going to give this a try.