Making Mycelium





Introduction: Making Mycelium

I am interested in bio materials that can return to the earth to support a circular economy. This project is the start of a larger project that will look at home made tools and products using waste food and bio materials to engage people to understand more about the product journey of the items they have in their home, ultimately reducing their consumption and impact on the environment.

Mycelium is the reproduction part of a fungus, consisting of a mass of branching, thread-like hyphae.

Mycelium is a fast growing organism and one of its primary uses is to decompose organic compounds. Petroleum products and some pesticides are organic molecules as they are built on a carbon structure, so they can be a potential carbon source for mycelium. This means it has the potential to consume such pollutants from their environment, (unless the chemicals are toxic to the fungus) which is a great potential for the circular economy to reduce the impact of plastics on the environment. As part of my research I will continue experimenting with the potential of this material to make a big difference to the material world.

This instructable guides you to making a material that is open for experimentation, it is not an end product. Get creative, and share your results.

You will need:

A sealable container - a glass tupperware is perfect

Corrugated cardboard

mushroom with a large base - I used King Oyster mushrooms

A scalpel or small knife

A dark place to store - a bucket is useful

Step 1: Prepare the Growing Environment

Cut the cardboard into pieces that fit well into the container.

Stack them up inside and fill with water, you may need to weight them down so they are fully immersed under the water. Soak for 20-30 minutes so the layers of the cardboard will separate easily.

Drain then separate the layers so you have sheets of corrugated layers and sheets of flat card.

Step 2: Cut Pieces of Mushroom

Take your mushroom and scalpel to cut tiny slices of the base. Only use the base as this is the reproduction part which will grow within the cardboard.

The third picture gives you a sense of scale to guide you with the size of each piece, make sure they are thin layers.

This will take you a while. I will be experimenting with using a food blender to see if this process can be sped up and if it effects the growth of mycelium.

Step 3: Add the Layers

Add a layer of cardboard to the bottom of the container, as you form the layers you need to have a corrugated sheet and a flat sheet, the corrugated layer gives the mycelium space to grow into. Alternatively you can use corrugated sheets for all layers.

Spread the little pieces of mushroom evenly and fairly close together and cover with a sheet of cardboard.

Repeat until you have filled the container and the layers are filled with mushroom.

Step 4: Store and Grow

Now you have the container ready, close the lid and store in a dark place at room temperature. Each day open the box to let some air out. Without any air exchange carbon dioxide levels build up and your mycelium will have stunted growth.

I put the container in a black bucket so it was in a dark place.

Step 5: Watching It Grow

This is the exciting part. After a few days the mycelium will start to appear through the edges of the cardboard, this is why a clear box is the best as it allows you to see whats happening. It appears to seep through the cardboard, filling in all the gaps and holes.

Once the mycelium has reached a level you are happy with (I am still waiting for mine to completely surround the cardboard) you can heat the block to stop it growing any further. As my mycelium hasn't stopped growing I am yet to experiment with the heat process and the end product, when that happens I will update my instructable to explain my development. As I said in the introduction this is a work in progress project.

Thanks for reading.



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    32 Discussions

    Hi Ashley, one quick question as the instructions are unclear, do I allow the soaked cardboard to fully dry before layering? or is it ideal to have the cardboard damp or simply drained of the excess water?

    Thanks and all the best!

    2 more answers

    yes the whole point of the soaking is so it holds valuable moisture the mycelium needs to grow. happy growing

    awesome, I started the process last evening....let's hope my mushroom stem bits had some existing mycelium!!! Your process is hands down the easiest and straightorward around. Thanks for posting this instructable!

    Sir , i m mayur pawar from india n i want full information about making of mycellium in detail for my project pls help me with it...

    Hi Ashley, I wanted to do something like this for my science fair. You will be credited for any info that you can give. About how long does it take for the mycelium to grow? Is it in the time period of 2-3 months?

    2 replies

    Hey, its much quicker than that, this took about 2 weeks to grow. it depends how much your trying to grow and what type of spawn you use. I hope that helps.

    Thank you very much your easy expression with picture

    Hi Ashley, I am a jewellery design student in London, looking for advice on how to grow mushroom mycelium to then go on to grow a sustainable material. This post was really helpful, is there any update as to what happened after you grew the mycelium in the container for you? Are you able to peel off the mycelium and use it to make a mushroom material? Any advice/help would be much appreciated :)

    3 replies

    Hi, what do you mean peel off? The mycelium is very imbedded in the substrate it grows on (in this case cardboard) so it depends what type of material you are trying to make. if you could explain what you are trying to do then i might be able to help. which school are you at?

    What are you then doing with the mycelium after you've grown it on the cardboard? I want to try combine it with other things to produce a material that i can make objects out of. Like this stuff

    bellesmith, maybe this video will be helpful (or at least inspiring and interesting) for you: Growing it with woodchips or even -powder (in some kind of mold maybe) seems like a good idea/place to start.

    Hi Ashley!

    Thanks for the great instructions. Hoping you answer this one.

    If I want to add the mycelium to organic waste, in this case probably saw dust as there's a wood workshop where I am, how do you transfer it from the cardboard into the new "host"?

    I want to test making different shapes and objects.

    All the best!

    1 reply


    Hmm, you could simply swap out the cardboard for the sawdust in my example. or you could turn your cardboard version in to a liquid culture (im sure you could google how to do this) or you could probably lay some of your sawdust on the top of the cardboard, let it colonise with the mycelium and then break it up and mix in with the full amount of sawdust for your shapes. its a little bit like using a sourdough starter if you know what that is, where you keep adding nutrients to it and it will mulitply.

    Hope that helps

    Let me know how you get on! would love to know what you grow.

    What about the contamination? It seems that you not use any precautions toward that. I always end up with green mold (Trichoderma to be more specific) How is that it isn't in your case?

    2 replies

    Hey, well with this one I didn't get any contamination which was surprising as since then i have been working with sterilisation processes to stop potential unwanted bacteria and molds. In all honesty I am quite surprised this worked so well. Now I sterilise in an autoclave for 3 hours, i used filter bags with a vacuum seal and grow in a Laminar flow, some work fantastically but some do still get contaminated. I think it depends on what substrate as I was using spent beer grain which was much more vulnerable to contamination than straw was.

    did you build your own flow hood? i use a still air box at this time but would love the freedom of a Laminar flow but don't want spend as much as they cost as its just a hobby at the moment.

    awesome job on the instructables by the way

    Don't throw it out! If you leave it long enough you might grow some mushrooms (something I am currently trying to do with white button mushrooms.) Also you can get spores from store bought mushrooms by cutting off the stem, exposing the "frills" and place the mushroom cap on a piece of paper with a bowl covering it. Leave it overnight and spores will fall out. In the morning you will see a spore print underneath the mushroom cap, put the paper in some moist cardboard and you should get the same result, over a longer period of time.


    2 years ago

    Wow! I already recycle left overs into sculpture (was in a building fire so can no longer use any synthetic chemicals even perfumes as most made from petro oils and all tested on animals) but due to subsequent low income can no longer afford the vitamin/mineral rich variety of mushrooms. I had heard of a person on Coast to Coast with regard to his ability to grow hard to grow mushrooms (developed into a business, and sorry long ago, so forgot his name and it was beyond my limitations - space so on) but this can allow me to grow my own and is an extension of my "paper" sculpture - even collections I find during walks (which cleans up the area as well).

    I am so thrilled this came in my inbox today - thank you for sharing.

    I know as well certain cities like Philadelphia have created a project whereby an old abandoned building was used to create sustainable food sources - ie plants, fish (waste nourishes plants) nothing new but being put to use rather then let the beautiful buildings decay. This might be an area they or others in other cities could use in such programs (Detroit would be a great place with all the raw material).

    Please keep us posted on your developments! Thanks again!