Instructables
You've done something stupid, you've cut yourself in the woods and haven't gone a walking with a first aid kit.

You silly silly person!

But never fear, what you could do if you've read this instructable is make your own!

After comments on Life Hacker, perhaps it's prudent to put a warning on this. There is a saying:

There are old mushroom pickers and bold mushroom pickers. There are no old bold mushroom pickers.

I'm in the UK - the fungus is particularly prevelant in English woodland and in other countries such as the US may be bad for you. So before rushing out and rubbing any old fungus on your wounds, make sure you make a positive ID. Such help can be found on all sorts of forager forums. This fungus has antibacteria properies. Other fruits may kill you.

Please read the comments here and also on http://lifehacker.com/5360855/make-an-emergency-band+aid-from-tree-fungus. I'll leave it up to you to decide which are the crazy ones. NB, sucking your finger (as suggested by experts) is wrong. Take it from me, I'd have first aid training and that is definately advised against!) your mouth is full of bacteria!
 
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Step 1: First, identification & history

Picture of First, identification & history
Silver birches are perhaps the most recogniseable of the woodland trees. It's a pioneer species which is often found in new areas of woodland. They grow quick and have several bush craft uses - namely their bark but you can also tap a birch tree in the spring for a fresh sugary drink.

Birch polypore (Piptoporus betulinus) is a bracket fungus found often on (here's a surprise here!) birch or oak trees. It is quite destructive - parasitic even - and you'll often find it on already fallen trees or in dying groves of birch trees. During my morning walk today we found several groves of dying birches - most of which had snapped in half and come tumbling down. There's nothing you can do about this, it's nature clearing the woods for a stronger species.

The fungus starts out budding like a ball, but soon folds over to make a distinctive, smooth rim around the pore surface.

Taking bracket fungus really isn't going to harm the tree or the spore - though you should only ever take what you need.

Its uses go back centuries as a firestarter*, but it can also be used for sharpening razors (as a strop) or as we've said, as a plaster!

*5,300 years ago (approx) a guy named by the researchers as Otzi was murdered in the alps. Preserved perfectly, among his possessions was powdered birch poly pore which was used in fire lighting

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antioch3 months ago

Not entirely sure which side of the cut-out you used to face the wound. Does it matter?

At first, I thought this would just be a waste of my time, for I don't live in the UK, but in the last bit you mentioned pine resin! I've been gathering pine resin on and off during this week, or at least what I think is pine resin, and I just have no idea what the difference between sap and resin is. I'm planning on making my own incense; that is mainly why I am asking. Is resin just dried sap, or is it the same thing?
Thanks, even if you don't know.
the pine resin will burn really well and it does smell quite nice although it can be a bit strong. I am afraid I don't know the difference either.
tim_n (author)  Andrew McClellan4 years ago
Hi Andrew, I'm afraid I know nothing about making incense...

Sap is a liquid, usually quite thin which caries nutrients around the plant.  It's not quite the full story, but for laymens purposes thats what it does...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sap

Resin is a very thick sticky substance excreted by a tree and it has protective properties.  Amber is fossilised resin.   It's a bit like a plaster/band-aid for a tree.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Resin

I've been told that if you mix pine resin with ash and apply that to cloth you can use it to pull the edges of larger wounds together, but as a first aider, I'd rather use my first aid kit or get myself on an ambulance quick. 
lax01312 years ago
This is a great discovery! I have found that it doesn't exactly absorb the blood from the cut though. 4 stars!
That's really cool, especially that it binds to itself.
tim_n (author)  Weissensteinburg4 years ago
It does bind but it's a better idea to use something else as well to bind it because if you catch it, it'll pull off. As mentioned in the 'ible use a couple of lengths of grass/cordage/etc to secure it.
have you ever tried using a cobweb?
I think this is a bad idea-- the whole point of bandages is that they are sterile, and form a barrier between the wound and the non-sterile world.
So...you're letting your own prejudices decide what's sterile and what's not. Most fungi are actually antibacterial, especially if it dehydrates the bacteria, as wood does. This technique in fact has more merit than a "sterile" bandage, as it is sticky enough to actually deter dirt and possibly water, where most bandages I've dealt with do not do either.
you cut your finger in the woods- trust me it isn't sterile! bandages are sterile to minmise risk in a clean environment, you don't have that in an outside situation.Something antibacterial is of more use, assuming that you are going to be in that environment for some time. Infection takes a while to set in.
tim_n (author)  greatpanda4 years ago
greatpanda - quite correct. Some of the birch polypore are indeed antibacterial, this I believe is one of those species. If there is a fungus expert out there and I'm wrong, please tell me!
IX Smith XI4 years ago
How strong dose the band aid gets after a while
my_key4 years ago
I never really got the point of a plaster or bandaid. If the wound is big bandaids don't do much good and you'll need to resort to something better (compresses and some tape maybe). If it's a small wound then it's better to leave the wound exposed to the air for faster healing. Maybe licking it for beneficial enzyme workings. Only if you have these (mostly stupidly small) wounds that drip annoyingly much blood, plasters are useful. And that's precisely what I wouldn't care about in the woods. Which doesn't mean that this isn't clever. I still like it, if only for the fact that it's possible to do if so desired :)
lampajoo my_key4 years ago
I concur, bandaids are kind of useless.  any wound which you can use them on will close by itself.  also you want your wounds to get oxygen, sunlight and to stay dry, which they will prevent. this all assumes you have a strong immune system and blood clotting. 

this is just my experience, I live in missouri, north america, maybe there are parts of the world where the climate and terrain make the germs much more virulent but I find it hard to believe that the people there haven't evolve resistance to these.  Natural selection, it's a powerful force.  This is why humans need large families so that there is good genetic variation and people who survive disease outbreaks can quickly propogate their resistance.  Also, other mammals have these same microbes to deal with and they certainly cannot put bandaids on.  yeah I know a lot more of them die of infections but not from little scrapes.  deep wounds which abscess are what I worry about. 

I wouldn't lick your wound, though, our mouths are super dirty with only a slight amount of antibacterial properties.  if you have good skin and hair then ear wax, which is antibacterial also, would be a better choice.
tim_n (author)  my_key4 years ago
In some areas of the world, a small cut without medical attention can kill you. We're lucky to have such a range of treatments and vacinations these days as well as an understanding of hygiene that means most our children live to see their first birthday and most of us haven't dropped dead by the age of 24.
Steelsmith14 years ago
Very interesting and nice Instructable, BUT I live in the South, a rural area in the Ozarks that does not have silver birch! So it is not so beneficial where I live!
I live in the same area, but this information is interesting to know, nonetheless. Although, I have to admit that having hiked many a time, it's been rare that I've not had a small first aid kit on me. And if I haven't, I've just gone about using other methods to cover a cut: A tiny bit of fabric from the hem of a t-shirt, or a strip of duct tape with a little square of toilet paper also serve the same purpose, I can attest. (Duct tape, the hiker's friend...)

But should I ever be in an area where silver birch grows, I will duly take note of the possibilities of making a bandage using the fruited fungus per fallscrape's instructable. :)
kleer0014 years ago
Hmmm, looks like you didn't need to break off the fruiting body from the tree. You could have cut your plaster off without wasting the rest of it. And it would have grown back, leaving more plasters for everyone else. If you have the time I humbly suggest redoing this instructables or at least adding a note that you don't need to break off the fruiting body. I only say this because this has been linked through lifehacker and will get lots of traffic. I do understand that the fruiting body, the part that you're breaking off, is basically the fruit of the mushroom, it's reproductive part, and not its main body. I know that taking a mushroom does no lasting harm, and is actually beneficial because it helps spread spores. My only wish is to quash waste.
tim_n (author)  kleer0014 years ago
Kleer001 the fungus becomes prevelant in the last stages of the birch or oak trees life. The fungus will grow from many parts of the tree and will not suffer from harvesting. You will find it difficult to strip the tree of the fungus as many examples were about 10ft up. I'm no expert but it is believed that this fungus gradually kills the tree. I'd only take them from trees bearing more than one fruit. You could get several plasters from one fruit or dry it to use as a strop used in sharpening knives. Eventually I'd use it as a firelighter which you'll see in the next instructable. Featured on life hacker? That's really cool - I love that site!
kleer001 tim_n4 years ago
Sweet, excellent! I hereby revoke my ultra conservative recommendations, but leave the comment up to demonstrate your knowledge. I thought it was a slow growing and/or rare fungus like some of the conks. Psffft, shows what I know.
And don't forget, the shelf he's pulling off is just one "fruit" of the larger fungus that's running through the tree. It's more like picking an apple than harvesting an entire plant.
DEADMAU5FTW4 years ago
Sorry to mess up the comment board but its called a BANDAGE, a band-aid is the new of a brand(just sayin').
If there is anyone on this site who has not heard of th' "foxfire" books , google it ! Th' info in there is amazing , and if you are lost in deep woods (or anywhere else for that matter) some of th' info could be lifesavin' !
skunkbait4 years ago
Great instructable. I never carry first aid kit, and always end up regretting it! I'll pull out my mycology book and learn the proper shrooms (from my area) that'll suit this purpose. Thank you for the idea!!
katiezilla4 years ago
ever sense forever when i went camping my dads rule was leave it cleaner than when you first came...its good to see that others care as well =)
I always heard that to when I was in boy scouts--I quit though it got boring
tim_n (author)  billythebob4 years ago
Sounds like a bad scout leader. My scouts get sick of my moaning about tidying up after themselves or getting them to do the washing up!
Notbob tim_n4 years ago
im not a scout leader myself (im an explorer), but i help out with the local scout group, and the bad leader story is one ive heard many, many times.
15zhangfra4 years ago
cool, do these dry out later on? i know that after a long time it completely dries out for use as a knife sharpener, but what about one or 2 weeks? be great if you could store some.
tim_n (author)  15zhangfra4 years ago
yes they do. You can use it as a knife sharpener or a firelighter - there's different bits for different uses. The bit we've used in the instructable isn't the bit you use in fire lighting.
SeaLion4 years ago
That's clever, but I don't think I can find the things around where I live...I guess I'll use plastic ones after all...
tim_n (author)  SeaLion4 years ago
Fabric plasters allow the wound to breath more freely, plastic ones are generally used for swimming/bathing.
trgz4 years ago
I always leave my cuts and grazes open to the air - for those that bleed a bit freely then I'd keep pressure on them until to flow stops. If you need to clean out a wound with something sterile then there's always the age-old tip of urinating on it - a bit tricky for certain body parts ;-)
tim_n (author)  trgz4 years ago
The below comment should be quoted in full if it is used elsewhere. A good idea trgz - I'm a trained first aider (used to drive ambulances) and I would recommend letting it bleed if you don't have access to clean water or sterile wipes. Cold clean water will help stop the bleeding and will wash dirt out. Never stick a finger in the mouth. As a trained first aider, don't use the above method if you've not got a first aid kit. I mention this at the top - you should always carry one (I always do!) The above is only really for an emergency and whilst you may now have some of the knowledge that enables you to do this, if you're not in a life threatening situation where you'll be away from clean water and real plasters you should wait till you get home to treat minor wounds. Lost days away from civilisation and can't afford to get crud in your wounds, maybe then you should try the above - but I'll point out now, that is not part of my first aid training and you should consult with a mushroom expert that you've got the right one!
Leave nothing but foot prints Take nothing but time
tim_n (author)  huntervort074 years ago
knowledge is the lightest tool of all!
Arghus4 years ago
if not mistaken when dry its even a good "fine" knife sharpner
tim_n (author)  Arghus4 years ago
Quite correct - used to be used as shrops?!
cool that's interesting
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