How To Make SHTF (charcoal) Pencils

September 1, 2016

Survival Skills

SHTF, survival skills, how to make SHTF pencils


In this video, my new hero, Kirsten Rechnitz (man she’s awesome!), demonstrates how to turn small twigs into little charcoal pencils to use for marking maps, writing messages, and anything else you might need a pencil for in an emergency situation.

SHTF, survival skills, how to make SHTF pencils

How To Make A Primitive Pencil

Check out how to make a primitive survival pencil in these five super easy steps. All you need is a few small twigs, and Altoids can, and a fire.

SHTF, survival skills, how to make SHTF pencils

Step One: Break a twig into small pieces.

Look around and find a pretty straight, thin twig. Since Kirsten suggests using an Altoids tin to create the charcoal pencils, break the stick into pieces small enough to fit inside the tin. She didn’t say what type of wood to use, so it probably doesn’t matter too much. Whatever you can find.


SHTF, survival skills, how to make SHTF pencils

Step Two: Put the sticks into an Altoids tin.

Place the broken twig pieces into the tin, fitting as many as you can inside.

SHTF, survival skills, how to make SHTF pencils

Step Three: Let it smolder.

Place the filled Altoids tin into a bed of hot coals, covering with coals. You don’t want to have a blazing fire going for this, just the remnants of a fire. Allow it to sit for a while so that the heat turns the sticks in the tin into charcoal.


SHTF, survival skills, how to make SHTF pencils

Step Four: Cool to touch.

Use a couple of sticks to retrieve the hot tin from the coals, and allow it to sit and cool to touch before attempting to open the tin.


SHTF, survival skills, how to make SHTF pencils

Step Five: Use your new pencils.

Take out one of your new charcoal pencils and use it to write a message. If you’re lost in the wilderness and want to leave a note for search parties, use the pencil to write down all of your pertinent information: where you’re headed, your name, the date (if you know it), your hair and eye color, your age, gender and height, your shoe size and what kind of shoes you’re wearing, etc. Anything to help your rescuers locate you more quickly.  And if you’re looking for more ideas, make sure you also check out Kirsten’s video on making Yucca root soap.  It’s one of the two videos she’s giving away to promote her new DVD series.

Want 54 More Desert Survival Techniques?

Pick up a copy of Kirsten’s new, 3+ hour DVD series on High Desert Survival, that outlines in detail, 54 other Survival Techniques for staying alive in the Desert.

Click here to Snag A Copy Of Her DVD Series



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About Kendra Lynne

Kendra shares all of her homesteading adventures on her website, New Life on a Homestead. Also be sure to check out her popular Canning DVD: At Home Canning For Beginners and Beyond!

View all posts by Kendra Lynne

4 Responses to “How To Make SHTF (charcoal) Pencils”

  1. JJM Says:

    Basic Charcoal recipe – wood inside not completely air sealed metal canister then baked in a fire. Great suggestion to use pencil sized sticks to make writing tool.


  2. Brad Speck Says:

    Thank you Kendra, for the valuable & very possibly life saving info.
    One “red flag” that went up in my head when you were talking about giving a bunch of personal information about yourself in the note, was that (human) predators could also use the information to stalk & find you, especially if they thought you were easy prey. Best wishes with your home schooling & homesteading etc. Wish I could do the same.


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