Introduction: Survive in Style (1) - Softboiled Eggs

Picture of Survive in Style (1) - Softboiled Eggs

A while ago I fell over a video on the net, about a man who managed to boil water.

Said like that there's nothing to panic about, but it was the container itself that took all my attention.

It was a bowl, made of birch bark.

True, birch bark bowls are as old as the day aliens came to earth to drop the first humanoids. But using these to heat water - those bowls, not the aliens - sounded at least quite paradoxal.

Birch bark is yet one of the best firestarters out there, right? It still is that stuff that burns even when it's almost wet, right?

I din't believe that video. It was like washing white shirts with black soap, for example. Ridiculous.

But too late it was, my curiosity was reveiled and so I hàd to test this before I was going to make a fool out of myself in a potential survival situation...

Step 1: Once You've Got Some Birch Bark

Picture of Once You've Got Some Birch Bark

The main ingredient in this amazing experiment is birch bark, obviously.

The best season to extract this is in spring or early summer. Later in the season it will be more difficult to peel it off the trunk and you'll have more 'pieces' than 'sheets'.

To get this birch bark you need to find a birch with a diameter of at least one hand - the smaller the birch, the smaller the bowl. This instructable is full of logic, in fact.

Knots are not what you want, so leave the rough bark at the bottom of the tree for what it is and climb as high as necessary to find this smooth silver knotless barkzone that makes these trees visible from very very far - unless there are other trees growing between you and them. Watch out for bears, also.

Carve a nice vertical cut in the bark and two horizontal - one at the top of the vertical and one at the bottom.

Start to peel off one side of the cut with the tip of your knife, and once you've got the whole cut done you can just peel off the whole zone with your hands. No knife needed, but be careful for knots.

Roll the pieces of bark together and put them in cold water - mountain stream or bath tub, whatever.

No, the tree won't die after your intervention - unless you've been so idiot to carve a 20mm deep groove to extract that 2mm thick bark sheet. The tree will be not more damaged than it would be after you cut off a branch, for example.

Step 2: You Can Make a Nice Bowl

Picture of You Can Make a Nice Bowl

Making a birch bark bowl is just great fun. Cut a square out of the bark sheet, ply the corners together and keep them in place with self made willow twig clamps.

Use wet hemp cord - one of those have-to's in your survival kit - for the clamps, and keep your creation soaking wet.

Step 3: Then You Need a Small Roaring Fire

Picture of Then You Need a Small Roaring Fire

To make this experiment a winner, you need to clamp your lovely birch bark bowl between four freshly cut twigs that you smashed with a lot of love in the ground. That said, a hammer or heavy piece of wood can be more helpful.

Fill the bowl with water and ignite that professionaly set up teepee fire.

Step 4: And Some Eggs

Picture of And Some Eggs

If you just want to make coffee: do nothing.

If you just want to make tea: do nothing.

If you want to make soup: add potatoes & vegetables.

If you want to make stew: just like soup, but with beer instead of water and some meat.

If you want to make boiled eggs: get some eggs & add them to the water.

Like I said, this instructable is so full of logic.

Keep watching out for bears.

Step 5: And Also a Little Bit of Patience & Good Luck

Picture of And Also a Little Bit of Patience & Good Luck

Once the eggs are added, you just have to wait. Really.

After a few minutes the flames will start to eat your bowl.

Don't panic - I'm a pro, you know - since the fire will miraculously stop just above the waterline.

Instead of chasing miracles, it's better to get those flames exactly UNDER the bowl. Much better & less risky, I discovered.

A few minutes later bubbles will form and the water will start to boil.

Add carefully a few sips of water to compensate the loss and let the whole thing go until it all collapses - like I did - or get those eggs out the bowl just before. Or just leave the bowl from the fire, like any normal person would do.

In theory, those eggs should be boiled.

Let them cool a bit, and crack the shell.

When I removed the shell, the interior was white - which I considered as a good sign.

I took a bite in the white, and then the yolk poured warm & smooth in my mouth and gave me that satisfying feeling that Das Experiment was not so impossible as it seemed.

What the man with no fear had done hàd to be true.

Next time you're on a survival trip: no more excuses for not offering a romantic breakfast to your partner. You've got the coffee, you've got the eggs.

Next instructable: SURVIVAL CROISSANTS!

Stay awesome!

Step 6: Pro-tips

Picture of Pro-tips

- try to get the largest sheet you can find

- make the bowl as good as you can - the better it's made, the more liquid it'll be able to store

- make that fire less violent, but more precise - build a wind-shield, if necessary

- small eggs are better than big ones - there comes that logic again

- keep watching out for bears, anyway


sabu.dawdy (author)2015-07-07

Congrats axe man lol. I like your idle.

bricobart (author)sabu.dawdy2015-07-08

Thanx Miss Sabu! Thanx to you I noticed that I won, since I checked my comments before my mails!

Love that nickname, btw ;)

sabu.dawdy (author)2015-07-07

Oops I meant ible*

sabu.dawdy (author)2015-07-07

Oops I meant ible*

Outdoorsmenn (author)2015-06-25

Upset with this instructable you killed that tree and show that it is ok


bricobart (author)Outdoorsmenn2015-06-25

For someone who has 'outdoor' as name you seem to have a lot to learn about your family, yet.

And stop with those pills, I already told you they make you paranoid.

Outdoorsmenn (author)bricobart2015-06-27

i enjoyed your instructables , i didnt not mean any harm or did you need to chirp me for that matter if u would remember that i am only 14 so im still learning(just concerned for trees)... and if u want to you should search up ray mears he makes a really good birch bark bowl and other cool too

If you're only 14 then perhaps you shouldn't be so confrontational without doing your research. That's what makes old people stupid, don't grow up into one of them.


deluges (author)2015-06-12

When I was a kid my dad got me a simple experiments book in which there was a similar trick, boiling water held in a cup made of simple printer paper over a candle. Thanks for reminding me of that!

antioch (author)deluges2015-06-22

Regular printer paper? Wouldn't it soak and rip within a minute?

deluges (author)antioch2015-06-22

Try it!

bricobart (author)deluges2015-06-25

Looks like the perfect recipient for french fries! And mayo, heavy lurks of homemade mayo, yummmmmmmmmmm...

bricobart (author)deluges2015-06-12

Awesome, I really need to try that!

elkliko (author)2015-06-22

Very nice Ible another way to boil your water (used for cooking, not your own water) and your eggs, is to make a hole in the ground, preferably a Clay surface, and put the water and the eggs in it.

Find some dry rocks and heat them in the fire don't use rocks from a stream, they can explode because of the water that is in them.

When the stones are hot you can put them in the water filled hole and bring it to a boil. Add new hot stones to keep it boiling. and extract the stones that cooled of from the hole. Be carefull if you want to heat those rocks again.

bricobart (author)elkliko2015-06-25

Very clever way to do it, thanx for the idea!

antioch (author)elkliko2015-06-22

you didn't notice that triple posting.

elkliko (author)antioch2015-06-24

thanx, they are deleted

LegoMiner590 (author)2015-06-25

Awesome tips, instructions, and pictures! Really helps if your trying to do something off of here.

bricobart (author)LegoMiner5902015-06-25

Go for it mate, and live it!

antioch (author)2015-06-22

just in case

antioch (author)2015-06-22

There is a button to delete your posts

xxxCHICAGOxxx (author)2015-06-11

This Instructable sounds like it was partially written by Yoda. Salutations to you descendant of Yoda.

bricobart (author)xxxCHICAGOxxx2015-06-12

Grateful I am, Great Padawan.

Wow, this is really cool! I want to try making birch bark bowls now! And I really want soft boiled eggs...

Thanx ;) It's one of those activities that make you just wanna go on survival trip! The only weak point of this ible is finding those eggs...

deluges (author)2015-06-12

Now that I think of it, here are two more ways of cooking eggs while in nature :

1 - Find a flat rock, nice and smooth, heat it and you can fry your egg on that like it was a pan (tested and approved)

2 - (This one I read about but never tried, so someone should get around to it) Using a skewer or fine twig, pierce a hole on each tip of the egg and cook it "a la broche" above a fire (pic related)

Jobar007 (author)2015-06-08

As always, a good read and well documented. Perhaps do the same thing but instead heat rocks and put the hots rocks in the bowl? That way your vessel survives with you!

Also, watch out for bears...

Tarun Upadhyaya (author)2015-06-07

This is amazing :). I can never think of something like this :). Glad the tree made it :)

It is ;) Don't worry about the tree, it's just the external layer of the bark that has been removed, not the entire thickness.

Yup, I read that. We should totally plan a Himalayan hike sometime Bro :)

I agree, totally! I did some treks in the Himalaya many years ago and going back is on the very top of my bucket list. I stayed in touch with some guys out there and it's just a matter of time that I'll pick up that old backpack again! We'll talk about it my friend!

Attmos (author)2015-06-06

What about fitting a flat rock under the bowl to divert the flames, kinda like a pizza stone. Cool instructable, I'm saving this in the brain bank for camping fun, or the dreaded survival experience.


bricobart (author)Attmos2015-06-07

Thanx Attmos! The idea wasn't mine, btw, but I never thought that it would be so easy...

Kittenfluff (author)2015-06-06

I would try to find a large piece on the ground, and not harm a live tree.

bricobart (author)Kittenfluff2015-06-07

Respect for your point of view Kittenfluff, I understand.

You know, this is a survival setup 'what to do if'. Harvesting bark from 'large pieces on the ground' is nearly impossible since you'd only get chunks - not very useful to make a bowl.

In a 'survival situation' you harvest what you can get on the trail. Getting your eyes open, picking here, gathering there, digging elsewhere. And when there's good bark to peel, just do it. Good birch bark can be a life-saver.

About This Instructable




Bio: I made a beer mug with only a knife & a hatchet. I think that says a lot about me.
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