The polypore birch mushroom is an incredibly useful and interesting forest resource, the use of which is a great historical priority, but is too little used in today’s outdoor community. Birch polypore is mainly known by its nickname “tinder mushroom” in terms of its great utility in the production of traditional fire. After being used for thousands of years to the present day, it was famously discovered in the Otzi Iceman pack.
Although the epithet polypore birch has been applied to several species of mushrooms, for the coffee-loving birch, we discuss here Fomes fomentarius, also commonly referred to as the horse’s hoof mushroom in terms of its physical appearance.
As the name polypore birch suggests, this species grows on several species of birch in its area of distribution, especially the paper birch in our region and in most parts of North America. It will grow in other ways, including beech. The birch polypore is locally abundant throughout the northern hemisphere, where its host species occur, and, in his opinion, may be one of the most common plateau fungi.
Using Birch-State Farm:
The main use of birch polypore is to create a substance called tinder or mushroom felt. This is a suede material made from a processed mushroom. Tinder can be used for a wide range of wound dressing applications for making hats, but its most convenient use is similar to tinder for making fire. Well prepared, this tinder can catch a spark just like a char cloth, but it’s also much better to hold that spark and feed the coals.
Creating tinder for use as tinder from birch polypores, or possibly other preserving fungi, is a relatively simple process. First, we need live mushrooms. The old slackers won’t work. They can be broken by the trees they find. Try to choose the largest specimens and let the smallest ones ripen.
Birch polypore has three layers: a hard, woody outer layer, a tubular porous layer, and between these two layers a soft, suede layer called the tram layer. For tinder, we want a trama layer. The cuticle (outer layer) and the hymenium (tubular layer) can be separated from the tram layer with a thin and sharp knife. This can be a bit tricky because the mushroom really doesn’t want to separate.
The process is easier with fresh mushrooms. Dried mushrooms become quite tough, but they can be soaked to make them soft. I’ll put them in hot water and leave them overnight. After you trim the cuticle and hymenia, you will end up with pieces of trama of different sizes. Try to clean them as best you can.
Once the trama layer is isolated, it needs to be prepared. I like to take all my pieces of trama and cook them in a weak wood ash solution for about 20 minutes. Clean water will also work, but wood ash will make tinder better to use than tinder.
After about 20 minutes of cooking, rinse the tinder. Now he only needs to be beaten. I usually use a small wooden hammer or just a nice round stick and carefully set it to the desired thickness. If you treat it, it will spread and lighten. Be careful not to handle it too roughly and not to separate it. Once it is treated in this way, let it dry and it will be ready for use.
To use tinder as a tinder just take a small piece, rough a little, and apply sparks. Expertly made, it will catch and hold the sparks and start to glow. At this point, it can be added to some fibrous material and burst into flames.
Alternatively, it can be used as an extension of the coal to help create a friction fire or to transport the fire from one place to another. Once it has started to multiply, the tinder is relatively difficult to remove and will burn for a long time if it does not get wet.
Although birch polypore requires a bit of work to find and treat, tinder is a functional and fun way to create fire, and a springboard for an interesting conversation. Tinder has become one of my favorite fire escapes,and birch polypore is one of my favorite finds!