DuxDawg, Thanks for advice and sharing your experience with milkweed fluff. Hasn't gotten a little late here to collect but will check for ovum not ruined by snow and rain. Most pods opened and release the seeds and fluff. I had boxes of dogbane and milkweed pods saved. some of them opened up and spread like popcorn popping. Unfortunately I didn't save them. Another fluff I had problem getting any flame with is cattail down. Anybody get it to flame well as a tinder, not uncharred spark receptor?
You betcha! That's what we're here for.
Some of the MWF & ovums that I've collected from late August through the winter well into May have worked. Earlier is better as weathering (mainly moisture and sunlight) has a significant impact. Yes, most of the fluff has flown away months ago. Yet some pods only partially open. These can still have useable fluff for many months yet.
Oh man! What a treasure trove of fluff and ovum! Dogbane fluff and ovum work almost as well as Milkweed in their uncharred state. Though being so much smaller they are a lot more difficult to collect in quantity.
Cattail fluff (or down as some call it) is an excellent coal extender (aka CE). One of the best! Thus far it has not worked as an uncharred spark catcher for me yet. Nor for anyone that I have ever seen. (Still referring to F&S here.) It will hold and grow an ember quite well. The tight heads will smolder for hours without any attention. (Which is rare. Most CEs need to be nursed or they go out.)
On the other hand, cattail fluff (aka CF) takes sparks from a ferrocerium (aka ferro) rod or catches fire from an open flame extremely well. I often mix 1/3 of a good tinder (dry grass, conifer needles, strips of birch bark, etc) with 2/3 CF when teaching ferros to newbies. Gives them easy success.
The keys with CF and ferros or flame are fluffiness and the other tinder(s) being well distributed throughout. Wind permitting get as much air in there as you can. CF by itself it will flash then go out. Not very useful! Indeed, quite frustrating. When mixed 1:2 as described above, it works very well and is a lot of fun.
As to producing flame from CF after an ember has been transferred to it... yes it can be done. Be warned that hot mini embers are likely to fly everywhere, including onto our faces. In general every coal extender will produce flame if we use enough. Usually takes a huge amount when compared to a decent tinder bundle. Charcloth, punkwood, chaga and many more have for me.