Tree sponge (Fomitopsis pinicola)

The production of tinder

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In the Black Forest, tinder or fire sponge manufacture went hand in hand with the brush industry in the days when no one knew anything about matches. At that time, a linen rag soaked in oil was used to make a fire, and it was lying in a tin can. Over the can, a flint was held and sparks were struck with steel. The tinder then took the place of the linen cloth.

The tinder was also used as a hemostatic agent. Due to its softness and lightness, it was also suitable for making hats, which were often worn in the country. A tinder of special size even became a robe for the bishop of Freiburg manufactured. The tinder comes from the holey fungus (Polyporus fomentarius) or the willow sponge (Polyporus ignarius), which parasitizes on beeches, oaks, linden, willow, ash and other trees and was often found in the Black Forest and the Eifel in the past. When these areas were no longer productive, this raw material was allowed to come from Hungary, Transylvania and Southern Slavia in bales of four hundredweight each. The sponge produced pieces the size of a fist, even quite sizeable plates.

From 1811 to 1814 there were in Todtnau 4 to 6 "Zundelmacher", but this line of business was only operated later. Of the three tinder factories in Baden, two were in Todtnau. One was founded by Franz Josef Faller in 1827, the other by Konrad Kirner in 1834. They did lively business and gave many residents a reasonable income. They guarded the secret of the preparation with great timidity. The dry, hard, solid mass was made nice and pliable by long boiling in a lye solution and cooked in hydrochloric acid. The pieces intended for hemostasis were not soaked. According to desire and taste, the tinder was colored darker. A piece worked in this way was then often enlarged tenfold by beating, giving it a spongy appearance, was dried in the sun or in an oven and then kneaded by hand and then stretched. Depending on the need, the pieces were cut into thin strips or made into caps or hats without a seam. The value of the piece was based on its size, sponginess, softness and shape. The Kirnersche Zunderfabrik was run by the sons Konrad, Sebastian and Michael Kirner, the Fallersche existed until the death of Franz Josef Faller. One of the Todtnau tinder factories was still producing 1871 hundredweight tinder in 750. Then matchmaking put tinder on the extinction list. Around 1895 there were no more tinder factories in Todtnau".

To commemorate the tinder making in 1960, the clique of fools of the "Todtnauer Zundelmacher" founded.