Making Mycelium

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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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    38 Discussions

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    JoeH233

    Question 7 weeks ago

    Hey i am thinkimg of replicating this and have a bunch of corks from wine bottles around. Could they work?

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    TerêncioS

    Question 3 months ago on Introduction

    Hey Ashley how are you? Thank you for your time and all the answer u have given so far, I was wondering if the mycelium made from a certain mushroom would also fruit the same mushroom or how could I use that mycelium to grow other mushrooms? If you don’t have the answer I still appreciate you! Thank you so much!

    1 answer
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    ashleyscarboroughTerêncioS

    Reply 3 months ago

    Hi, The mycelium strain you use will be the only type of mushrooms that will grow (unless there is a rogue infection), for example if you use a king oyster strain to form mycelium then you will see king oysters are the only mushrooms that grow. Mycelium isnt like soil that you can use to grow all sorts of things, mycelium is the roots of the organism just like the roots of a tree and the mushrooms are the fruit. I hope that helps.

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    MinM18

    7 months ago on Step 1

    hi

    how long days need mycelium growing in container box after that which thing(straw,etc) transfer ?.

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    JacW1

    Question 7 months ago

    Can you use this method to make leather

    1 answer
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    SarahM507

    Question 10 months ago

    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 answers
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    ashleyscarboroughSarahM507

    Answer 10 months ago

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

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    SarahM507ashleyscarborough

    Answer 10 months ago

    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!

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    mayurpwr2

    Question 1 year ago

    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...

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    23godboutlil

    1 year ago

    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.

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    TayfurB

    1 year ago

    Thank you very much your easy expression with picture

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    bellesmith283

    1 year ago

    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 http://danielletrofe.com/

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    liloamorebellesmith283

    Reply 1 year ago

    bellesmith, maybe this video will be helpful (or at least inspiring and interesting) for you: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jnMXH5TqqG8. Growing it with woodchips or even -powder (in some kind of mold maybe) seems like a good idea/place to start.

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    gregpepper

    1 year ago

    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!