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  1. #21
    Senior Member Darrel's Avatar
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    I was able to find several more references to the use of Cattail cotton down as insulation as well as several other interesting uses...
    I think it has been independently confirmed a Looong time ago but it would be interesting to see how it stacks up against modern synthetics and Premium Goose Down,
    Sure can't beat the price.

    Here is another quote:



    ****:CATTAIL CHEMURGY

    One of the remarkable things about the primitive American Indians
    was their use of innumerable plants for food, clothing, shelter,
    medicines and implements. The early settlers learned a lot from them
    but, as civilization progressed, much of that knowledge was abandoned
    and forgotten. Now a new science, called "chemurgy", is discovering
    that some of our abundant but neglected plants have undreamed-of
    possibilities. One of these is the common Cattail.

    This is the familiar plant with erect strap-like leaves from 4 to 8 feet
    tall and, above them on a slender stalk, the cylindrical flower-head
    which is green and velvety in early summer when it resembles a cat's
    tail. The upper part contains the male flowers which drop off after they
    have bloomed and shed their pollen. The larger lower part contains the
    female flowers which develop into a brown plushy compact mass of as
    many as 300,000 very tiny seeds, each with a tuft of fine white hairs,
    that are spread by winds when the head opens in autumn.

    It grows in marshes and wet places. In the Chicago region, near Wolf
    Lake and Lake Calumet for example, there are thousands of acres
    covered with dense stands of cattails. A war-time survey showed that
    there are at least 140 thousand square miles of cattail swamps in the
    United States.

    One Indian name for the cattail meant "fruit for papoose's bed"
    because the fluffy masses of seeds are very soft and do not mat. During
    World War II, several million pounds of them were used to stuff life
    jackets, mattresses, pillows and baseballs. Compressed into wallboard,
    they make excellent insulation against sound and heat. A drying oil
    similar to linseed, a cooking oil and a wax can be extracted from the
    seeds, leaving a by-product of meal which is used in cattle and chicken
    feeds.

    For centuries, cattail leaves have been used to caulk barrels, and
    twisted or braided into cords for making rush-bottomed furniture. The
    Indians wove them into waterproof mats for the sides of their lodges,
    and sleeping mats on their travels. Soft fibers, extracted from the
    leaves and stems by treating them chemically, can be used like jute for
    stuffing furniture and making twine, burlap or webbing. A stickly
    substance extracted from the stems may have value as an adhesive for
    paper, as sizing, or in facial and shaving creams.

    The core of the thick branching rootstock, which grows horizontally in
    the mud, is very starchy. It can be cooked and eaten like potatoes, or
    dried and ground into flour used in baking and also as a substitute for
    corn starch. This flour can be fermented to produce ethyl alcohol
    valuable as anti-freeze, as a cheap industrial solvent, and for medicinal
    purposes. It contains more fat but slightly less protein than potato or
    wheat flours, and only potato flour has more minerals .

    Some Indians made jelly from the rootstocks and they can be used for
    marmalade. In spring the young shoots, which taste something like a
    cucumber and are called "Cossack asparagus", are peeled and eaten as
    a vegetable or in salads. The young green flower-heads are said to be
    delicious when boiled or roasted. The pollen, which is very abundant
    and rich in vitamins and minerals, was harvested and used in bread by
    our American Indians.

    Cattail marshes furnish nesting places and ideal cover for red-winged
    and the yellow-headed blackbirds, marsh wrens, rails, bitterns, coots
    and some kinds of ducks. The rootstocks are important food for wild
    geese and our most valuable furbearer, the muskrat, which uses the
    leaves to build its lodges.


    -Darrel

  2. #22
    Member Wendigo's Avatar
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    12 cattails will make 1 vest.....that gives a good idea of how many will be needed for projects like OQs/UQs and sleeping bags.

    Thank you XexorZ for bringing the idea...and Thank you Darrel for your research.

    The motherearthnews link provides info on gathering and processing it for use.

  3. #23
    Senior Member Darrel's Avatar
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    You're very welcome, my pleasure.
    I live on a Lake here in Michigan and plan to give this a go. Fun project with the Grand kids.

    Cheers,
    Darrel

  4. #24
    HappyCamper's Avatar
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    That was a cool video! I can see why you are interested. Definitely keep us posted on your experiments.
    I intend to live forever, or die trying. -- Groucho Marx (1890 - 1977)

  5. #25
    Senior Member XexorZ's Avatar
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    Wendigo - No worries, glad you found it interesting. Also - 12 isn't a whole lot of cattails!

    HappyCamper - Thanks - will do!

    This is the time of year to do it - the cattails are all starting to "pop" in my neck of the woods. Please post any info about any projects you attempt using this - I'd really love to know how they turn out.

  6. #26
    Member dgmyrs's Avatar
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    Color me excited!

    Have cattails, don't have money. I hate to get overly excited about the potential for a cheap underquilt, but can't help it. Looking forward to your experiments, and when it dries up a bit here, I'm out to do some gathering.

  7. #27
    Member Wendigo's Avatar
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    From motherearthnews link

    (My first cattail-insulated item-a padded vestcost less than $10 to produce, including the cash spent in buying some ripstop nylon material, a zipper, and the pattern kit.My garment is warm, waterproof, and washable .. . and its cattail-fiber filling is almost as compressible as goose down.)

  8. #28
    Senior Member XexorZ's Avatar
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    Not that this is a problem (I half expected it) but I just found some cattail moth larva in my pile-o-fuzz.

    The cattail moth lays its eggs on cattails.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/8739502@N05/2155755275/

    http://books.google.com/books?id=94Y...larvae&f=false

    Would eventually "grow up" to become this guy:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/stylurus/615669916/

    Like I said, no big deal. Sticking all of your cattail fuzz in a stuffsack and sealing it up tight / throwing it in the drier for a bit should dry them out / cook them. . Added advantage is then they won't weigh as much then either ;-)

    I'm sure you'd have a similar problem with raw / unprocessed goose down (fleas or mites or whatever type of stuff birds carry - I'd rather plant-bugs any day).

    Hard-Freezing or drying in a dryer will kill them off.
    Last edited by XexorZ; 10-02-2009 at 19:00.

  9. #29
    in it for the naps oldgringo's Avatar
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    Before this is over, we're no doubt going to learn about the flammability of cattail fuzz in a microwave.
    Dave

    http://www.uark.edu/misc/xtimber/rna/pattonsbluff.html

    It has always been my private conviction that any man who pits his intelligence against a fish and loses has it coming.
    John Steinbeck

  10. #30
    New Member Hammockrookie's Avatar
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    I think this is an awesome idea. I've been considering using my sons sleeping bag as an uq as I don't have one yet and want to DIY, however this sounds like something i would like to try. If you do this please let us know how it works out and I'll do the same. Great Idea!!

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