Introduction: Making Plasters/band-aids in the Woods
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!
Step 1: 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
Step 2: Removing the Polypore
A swift tug is all you should need to move fresh poly pore.
Step 3: Cutting Strip
It's not difficult to cut fresh polypore, it's quite tough through but don't put too much pressure, you don't want to stick your knife through into your hand. Make four slices the width and length you require your plaster, then slide the knife under the cut (start a little further back than the first incision.
Make sure your knife is clean, you won't be using the top surface but the freshly cut surface which should be clean and relatively sterile.
My knife technique is a little shoddy - I wasn't using any pressure when I was cutting towards my hand, so be careful.
Step 4: Application
I wasn't going to cut myself for my instructable...
But I did put one on to show you the method in my madness.
When applying, stretch slightly and gently squeeze and the polypore will bind to itself. You can reinforce with cordage/grass/bark whatever you've got on you really.
There are otherways - using pine resin etc but birch polypore is nice neat and less sticky to deal with.
Have fun in the woods and don't forget :-
- Always take a first aid kit,
- Take care
- and most importantly leave no trace!