Introduction: Boost Your Immune System With Birch Sap

Picture of Boost Your Immune System With Birch Sap

YES! Spring is here and anyone living somewhat close to the northern hemisphere should know that the season for tapping birch sap is nigh.

Birch sap is rumored to be some kind of "holy forest water", curing anything from scurvy to pollen allergy. I don't really know about that. All I know is that it has a lot of vitamins and antioxidants in it. Which ones? Dunno.

You can think of it like this: This is the juice the tree produces to kickstart itself after a long winter of hibernating. It has to have a lot of really good boosting power in order to get an entire tree going.

For this project you will need:

A bottle

Strong string

Sharp knife

Drinking straw

Some kind of drill with a drillbit that matches the diameter of the straw.

A couple of hours

Let's go!

Step 1: Find a Good Birch Tree.

Picture of Find a Good Birch Tree.

You will want to find a tree that has a fairly decent size. A good rule of thumb for the right time for harvesting is when the leaves on the tree just barely started to unfold.

Bring out your drill and make a hole in the bark. You will know that you are through, when sap starts to drip out from the hole.

A good tip is to find a really old tree. Decent size on the trunk and a really thick bark. The thickness on the bark provides a good support for your straw.

Another tip: The bigger the treetop, the higher the pressure. If you can find a nice old tree that grows on its own, with no other trees close by to "compete" in length, it would most likely give the most sap, filling your bottle faster.

Step 2: Add the Straw.

Picture of Add the Straw.

Nothing more to it really, just plug it in.

After a short while, if you made sure to match the drillbit with the diameter of your straw, you will be able to see the sap running through the straw.

It is always good to have your prime instructor with you as well. My daughter was a good coach.

Step 3: Tie Up a Bottle.

Picture of Tie Up a Bottle.

Take a piece of string and have it go around the trunk. Then tie the bottle on the string and make sure the straw won't fall out. Then you just let it drip.

Step 4: Give It Time.

Picture of Give It Time.

There are many ways to drain the sap from a birch, but this one is the most gentle way of doing it. The little wound you have aflicted on the tree can easily be healed up. Obviously, it will take a little longer to fill a bottle, but if you like birch sap, you would want to be able to tap from it again, so letting it bleed out is not a smart move, plus, you should treat nature with respect. Chances are that the tree is more than twice as old as you, so do this with a bit of reverence.

Step 5: Behold Your Harvest!

Picture of Behold Your Harvest!

Well, I only let it drip for about 45 minutes, so obviously you can't expect that much from such a small effort.

Step 6: Tidy Up (VERY IMPORTAINT!)

Picture of Tidy Up (VERY IMPORTAINT!)

OK, so this is the most importaint part of the process. You have to make sure that you close the hole you made. If you don't, the tree will keep bleeding, and that is a little disrespectful, concidering that it just shared some of its most vital juices with you.

Simply carve a small branch (preferredly birch) and make it slightly pointy. Then clog the hole.

Step 7: Enjoy Your Drink!

Picture of Enjoy Your Drink!

I really like the taste of birch sap. It has a fresh taste with a twist of something i best would describe as... cucumber? I haven't tried it yet, but I think it would be perfect with slice of lemon in it.

Some use the sap and let it ferment to make either wine or some sort of scandinavian champagne of it. However, I don't drink alcohol, and honestly think it would be a shame to let all those good vitamins go to waste.

It stores in the fridge for a couple of days, and can be frozen. How about a good sip of natures own vitamins in the middle of winter?

Good luck!


goldenskyhook (author)2015-04-28

VERY cool instructable! will give you the nutritional information on birch sap.

treenerd (author)goldenskyhook2015-04-28

VERY cool link you gave me there! Thank you so much! I will quote some of it here:

"Birch sap contains fructose, glucose, fruit acids, amino acids, vitamin C, potassium, calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, manganese, zinc, sodium and iron. All substances of the sap have their own important functions also in the human body."

Indeed you boost your immune system.

ArticAkita (author)treenerd2015-05-05

don't know why I haven't done this before? Lived up here on top of the world for over a decade in Alaska & never even tried to tap a birch?!? until now! super easy just as long as nobody knows what I'm obviously doing otherwise sabotage my balancing act tied to the tree. Btw using a squeeze of fresh lemon did not give it much flavor, birch juice is fine by itself. & not really cucumbery been freezing a stash in soda bottles in the freezer. just glad moose whom love birch leaves don't go after the sap jug on the tree it don't look like a branch so thats good!...been here 13 years no bears in the backyard! just in everybody elses yard but ours! :P nice instructable!

treenerd (author)ArticAkita2015-05-06

Did this instructable make you go out and try it? In that case I am thrilled!

kimspindel (author)2015-04-29

Nice instructable! I'm surprised that not many people know about this, given the massive amount of birch trees here in Sweden (although I have heard that it is more common in other parts of Europe and Russia)

Just one question - do you think pollution is something of a concern? I have heard that you shouldn't pick mushrooms or berries too close to large roads/towns, so do you think it is a similar story for birch sap?

treenerd (author)kimspindel2015-04-30

This is a good question.
Yes, I believe that you should keep pollution in mind when picking out a tree. I have the privilege of living in a natural resort, so I can find trees that haven't been in contact with cars.

Albeit birch has a bark that makes it extremely resistant to outside influences, the ground that the trees grow in has a tendency to have a much higher amount of heavy metals, when close to dense car traffic. I could imagine that it would affect the insides of the tree.

studleylee (author)2015-04-28

Very nice and I like that you care about the tree!!! I'm in Arizona so I will try it with a cactus :-)

treenerd (author)studleylee2015-04-28

Oh, and btw I love that Fender! What is the body made of? it looks like ash?

I am close to finishing my own first bass building project. I made mine out of ash and wenge with a finger board in bloodwood. Sadly, I never took that many pictures of the processs, so I won't be able to make a proper ible on it.

studleylee (author)treenerd2015-04-28

I will very much like to see your bass when you are done!!! Sounds beautiful!
I fairly sure mine is also "Ash" wood, but with a maple neck. info:

I've had it since I was 13 or so. I made the pick guard and bridge in my first metal machining classes in the 80's, then I wanted it to look similar to a MusicMan bass( also by LeoFender design ). I was playing it this morning :-) -Best Regards -Lee
for laughs:

treenerd (author)studleylee2015-05-18

-As promised earlier. Here she is. Birthmarks, and a lot of imperfections. She plays really well, though. amazing sustain.

studleylee (author)treenerd2015-05-20

This is a piece of art! I like the angled tuners!!!

treenerd (author)studleylee2015-06-16

Thanks! Yeah, it seemed logical to angle them. It made it feel a little more natural for the hands.

treenerd (author)studleylee2015-04-28

HAHA! nice clip! I was first like: are they wearing wigs? then I saw when it had been published and thought: probably not. I will send you a pic when it's done. I drew it up in Solidworks at first. You can see a rendering here:

I bought most of the hardware from Warwick, so the saddle looks diferent, plus i chose straight up black tuners instead of the Gibson ones.

studleylee (author)treenerd2015-04-28

That is awesome!!!!

treenerd (author)studleylee2015-04-29

Hey, thanks! A little Prince inspired. I like organic shapes.

treenerd (author)studleylee2015-04-28

HAHA! good luck with that.

CJLullham (author)2015-05-26

I used to drink a lot of it when I was a child. My grandma told me how to extract the sap. But in time I forgot about it. Thank you for reminding me

treenerd (author)CJLullham2015-06-16

Happy to remind you :)

nathanaloysiusbash (author)2015-04-26

I've tapped maple trees before. (The sap is quite tasty, like water with a woody twist.) Not so sure about plugging the hole or not. It's a real small hole and I think the sap only runs when the weather is going below and above freezing, at least for maple trees anyway. I know commercial tapperies or whatever dont plug the maple tree holes. The risk there is introducing some kind of disease that will kill the tree, rot it from the inside. I read about somebody felling a tree that he had tapped and then plugged the hole and thats what he saw, right from that plugged spot the tree had rotted and thaTS what killed it. Lol about the boost your immune system. I dont know as you can really claim one way or the other about that, but then why not? It's got trees in it right? Its got to be good for you!

Birch trees don't heal themselves the same way maple trees do and can literally bleed to death if the hole is not plugged. Maples are a lot more resilient and heal themselves up with no need for a plug.

What do you plug it with?

treenerd (author)marishka.noyb2015-05-02

Hi marisha.noyb! sorry, I didn't notice your comment ealier. There has been so many, that I couldn't keep up.

I used a branch that had fallen from the tree itself. That way I know that if the branch carries any kind of bacteria, the tree probably knows how to deal with it beforehand.

Nrgdragon (author)treenerd2015-05-12

Nice idea!

Thank you for your input candlelightbooks! You explained it very well. i have read on several sites that you should skip a year before tapping the same tree again. I suppose that the bark rebuilds itself a little slower than others.

"It's got trees in it right? Its got to be good for you!"

Glass of horse chestnut sap, anybody? Hemlock?

Or how about Cerbera odollam...?

Lol, righto kiteman. Cant even trust the dang trees.

treenerd (author)Kiteman2015-04-28

haha! Good point. Is horse Chestnut sap poisonous?

Kiteman (author)treenerd2015-04-28

Well, the rest of the plant is...

treenerd (author)Kiteman2015-04-28

Good to know. Thanks!

skipwkk (author)treenerd2015-04-28

What type of Birch tree did you tap and does it make a difference

treenerd (author)skipwkk2015-04-28

Actually, I did it from two different kinds. One is called (dirctly translated from swedish) wart birch. That's the one with the heavily textured surface. The other one was from a downy birch. I believe you call thos canoe birch or silver birch as well. They have the lean bark. They both tasted the same. I don't think it makes that much of a difference. However the warty (ew!) kind tend to get bigger trunks, so maybe quantitywise go for that one.

Actually, I just looked it up. Birch sap is packed with vitamin C and antioxidants. It's mild sweetnes comes from xylitol, which is a good kind of sugar that even diabetics can benefit from.

About plugging the hole, I suppose that the risk is present that you could introduce the insides of the tree to forreign bacteria, but for birch it is actually quite crucial, in order to maintain the pressure in the tree.

Thank you for your comment. I haven't ever tasted maple sap. I would love to try it out.

mattcintosh (author)treenerd2015-04-28

The smell of boiling sap is amazing. And up here in Wisconsin, you can buy real maple syrup at most stores.

treenerd (author)mattcintosh2015-04-28

Nice! Maybe I should go one day.

mattcintosh (author)treenerd2015-04-28

Vermont is another option...they make a lot of syrup there as well

slash51 (author)2015-04-28

I have made birch syrup from birch sap. It tasted a little like molasses. The sap does not flow well and the ratio is about 40:1. And then there is birch beer and birch soda. Yellow birch leaves have more wintergreen chemical than wintergreen plant. Now it's artificial.

BTW: Hemlock and water hemlock is about the same a pine and a pine apple.

If there were any magical healing power in birch sap it would have been exploited by now. I want a balanced immune system. I don't want one attaching my body.

Someone said birch was halucinogenic. You say yellow birch has wintergreen. Having overdosed on wintergreen before, I have the experience to say that is not any kind of buzz/halluconegenic that it worth the suffering of it. Cold burning diarhhea, near respiratory shutdown, delirium type hallucinations, and s a bonus chemically induced deafness of upper frequency and ringing in the ears lasting for days.

So I take it Wintergreen would not be good for COPD right?

Im not sure. It actually does have a lot of medicinal use like most stuff it depends on the dose whether it is a medicine or a poison. I watched my grandma go out of the world by emphesema. It wasnt pretty. I think the best things for copd are not smoking, aerobic activity if possible, even for a healthy person theyre breathing health gets a lot better from jogging or even walking depending where you are physically, just some activity to push your lungs to strengthen them, swimming probably being the lowest impact. If you have a treadmill just get on it all day long, just start at a walk then go up to as fast as your lungs comfortably go and then back down again. As far as a miracle cure for breathing problems, I will say Ephedrine. They sell it at the pharmacy typically behing the counter. You may have to ask a pharmacist for it but its not prescription. There are different brands, One is bronkaid I think. make sure its ephedrine, not the plain ephedra herb or pseudoephedrine. Search ECA stack on the internet. Thats ephedra, caffeine, aspirin. It can give people who dont have the energy to work out the will to start working. Dont just expect it to magically work forever though. It will lose its effectiveness over time unless you are working out regularly, improving your lungs and aerobic activity as well. Ideally you could stop taking it once iy given you the best to get your lungs/excersize back going again. Like any other medicine, ephedrine you get a tolerance to. Also the reason its behing the counter is because it can be abused/habit forming, people steal it, you have to be 18 a lot of place to buy it, it's also the precursor to methamphetamine, no need to take the chemical that far. Ephedrine has reasonable power, cleaner effect than the ephedra herb but not as cacked out as adderall, meth, etc. like i said though youve got to get on the excersise to, so only take it when you have time to commit to a good workout. If you take it and just sit in a chair all day in the long run it could make you worse. There is of course being a healthy weight too. That is a factor. The big kicker is yoga if you can get to that point, yoga is like the end all be all of maintaining your body working well, you do yoga hard for a few weeks then suddenly you can run farther, faster than you could before, even though youve only been training yoga, not running. As a proud 'Merican (USA) i can say it took me a lot of regular oldskool gym class type stretching before yoga was comfortable. Guaifenesin is an over the counter expectorant thats good for clearing phlegm. It may sound crazy but washing the sinuses helps, like with a netti pot or a sprayer. Use good quality water like distilled or reverse osmosis and good salt like natural salt. Dont use tap water, who knows whats in it. You would be amazed how hollowed out you can get the sinuses using a spray bottle of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide, it's too intense though. Maybe a 1 to 10 or 1 to 20 peroxide in with the salt water and increase gradually. Well I know its kind of long but thats my opinion as a shmoctor (Shmuck Doctor, NOT ACTUAL DOCTOR AT ALL. Also, a good quality high volume air filter or maybe a few for them home. (So you can at least breathe clean air in the place where you are most often. Get rid of carpet, . Its filthy, impossible to keep clean of dust, dirt. Just put your nose to the carpet and give it a whiff to see how much it is nastifying the air every time you step on it. Hope the COPD improves, remember there's not only one way to solve a problem, but many, just keep at it from all angles. Hedge your bets.

Thanks for the info.I drink coffee and take aspirin already for arthritis.Moderate to severe.I was going to try Eucalyptus in a vaporizer and/or Camphor for breathing better too.Anyways I'll keep all of what you said in mind though....thank you

Thats interesting about the vaporized eucalyptus. I'va heard of alcohol, as in vodka in a vaporizer, i wonder if that would help an infection. I forgot to mention about ephedrine it is a stimulant. It can be too much for people with heart problems or high blood pressure. Walking at the mall is something good too. The mall where I live opens up an hour early before the shops do for people to come and walk. Good luck. Hope the health improves. Breathing is huge.

Yep.Breathing sure is something.*breathes*

Someone else said birch was not hallucinogenic. You must have consume a lot to get to an overdose. Nutmeg is also a hallucinogen but to get enough of the chemical you would need to eat enough nutmeg to make you sick.

Yup, did that before too. about 2 or 3 whole nutmegs ground up, takes several hours to kick in, then stoned for a few hours, then passed out asleep for the next 2 days. I would say yes sick is a good word to describe it. Even years later I cant stand the taste of nutmeg. Yeah I doubt any varity of birch is a potent hallucinogenic or has any mental effect without taking a lot or concentrating it.

Yuk! I suppose birch just have it all, huh?

lol. Yea. Wow the comments on this instructable! Good conversation. Thanks. I think when I read about the maple tree that got infected at was because the plug was not clean, it was just a dirty old stick stuck in the tree. Your plug looks nice and sterile. I didnt realize about the pressure in birch, is that for all birch or just the small young birch?

Well, if you do it on a younger birch, chances are that it won't survive the season. This is also why I advice to find a decent sized tree. They can take it. Those who exploit the trees as an industry, i would imagine do it on young trees and just drain them completely and just plant new ones. Would seem like simlest way of keeping it profitable.

You are right. the comment here have run amok. I never imagined this to happen. All this for birch sap? Go figure.

treenerd (author)slash512015-04-28

I would love to try out birch syrup. It has become a big deal lately in Sweden to use birch sugar instead of plain white. However, as you pointed out, the sap does not flow well, and only flows thoroughly for about three weeks pro anno, so magical healing powers or not, it would be a very costly procees to exploit it.

lovethebackwoods (author)2015-04-28

My son used to make birch syrup when he lived on a large lot that was loaded with countless trees. It's good stuff! We grew up tapping maple trees on our farm in the Catskill Mountains of upstate NY. I still cannot abide the artificial "maple syrup" sold in big box stores and routine grocery stores, but will occasionally buy real maple syrup for a treat. We also used to make jackwax while our maple syrup was boiling down. Does anyone know if you can make jackwax with birch syrup? Thanks for this a propos instructable TN - nice job!

About This Instructable



Bio: Danish cabinet maker and furniture designer. Now living in Sweden with my wonderful wife and two little girls. I absolutely crave creation. Any process that ... More »
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