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Chaga or True Tinder Fungus

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  • Chaga or True Tinder Fungus

    For those of you that have access to Birch trees take some time to look for what's called Chaga or True Tinder Fungus. It primarily grows as a cancer type fungus living off of the Birch tree. It can grow high or low on the tree. I have found it on other trees, but can not validate whether it's qualities are the same on anything other then the birch. I will tell you what I know for sure about it, but take the time to google has an amazing history! I will also state that it's medicinal qualities are better if taken off of a live tree. When removing it I have knocked it off, sawed it off or even taken it off with a knife/tomahawk. Just please make sure not to do any further damage to the tree.

    The fungus itself sets in from damaged areas on the birch and can sometimes take up to 10 years before it can even be noticed. It can be used as a tea and has one of the highest antioxident levels in nature. It has been used for centuries in the Soviet Union and states like Maine have a large following with it.

    My wife and I also burn it in the house for a WONDERFUL woodsy smell which isn't overpowering at all. I have not tried it yet, but it is supposed to be good for headaches by simply breathing it in as it burns.

    I always keep some in my fire kit because it will take the smallest spark and keep burning. It does not flame up, it only takes on a glow until it burns out, but does BURN VERY HOT SO BE CAREFUL!

    I have tried the tea a few times and it has a pretty mellow taste in my opinion. My wife very simply put the whole piece in a glass bowl she can boil with and boiled it for about 2 hours. Then she poured it through a coffee filter for drinking. (Check on-line for other methods)

    The birch tree is one of the most overlooked trees in nature for it's medicinal properties and this is why the Chaga is so exceptional. It basically sucks those qualities from the tree like a parasite.

    Once I bring it in the house I let it dry not put it by a heat source to speed up the process, let it dry at room temperature.

    I then collect chunks from it as we need it. I used to remove the blackened outside, but no longer do.

    When you see it on the tree it will take different shapes, but the most common is a blackened, cone shape almost resembling burnt wood. Do not use it if there is another type of mushroom growing on it. I have never found another mushroom on it on the Birch, but have noticed it on trees that weren't Birch.

    The outside blackened area is very hard. After removing it you will see what I consider to be an almost orange color on the inside and if it is fresh it will have a sponge-like, corky texture. This is the part that catches a spark so easily.

    We don't like waisting things so I will use the harder areas for burning in the house by touching with a lighter.

    Here are some pictures for you guys. If you have any questions feel free to PM me or google it. The biggest piece I ever found was about 13 lbs and the smallest fitting in the palm of my hand.

  • #2
    Excellent info. Thanks.


    • #3
      very nice to know, any way you could post pictures?
      Sic Vis Pacem Para Bellum


      • #4
        Random Buggy Bump!!!!

        I'm not a fatalist. I'm a realist.


        • #5
          All I can say is REALLY. Where do you get this stuff and I thought you were banned.


          • #6
            I found some pics--

            Click image for larger version  Name:	F2AEGKBIUKEVBZO.MEDIUM.jpg Views:	2 Size:	82.3 KB ID:	211053Click image for larger version  Name:	IMG_2806.jpg Views:	2 Size:	100.7 KB ID:	211054Click image for larger version  Name:	IMG_2543_thumb%25255B1%25255D.jpg?imgmax=800.jpg Views:	2 Size:	97.1 KB ID:	211055

            Glad to hear about this as there a lot of birch trees near where I am often out in the woods. Also, I wouldn't have known that this was a fungus on the tree--I'd have thought it was just sap or some characteristic of the bark. Thanks for the info, Snow Walker.

            and here's an instructable with pics and further info:
            Last edited by Schneb; 10-23-2017, 07:29 PM.
            Been there, done that. Then been there again several times, because apparently I never learn.


            • #7
              Thanks for finding the pics, Schneb. That is very helpful.
              The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary.

              Everything happens for a reason. Sometimes the reason is you are stupid, and make bad decisions.


              • #8
                I’m going to resurrect this old thread. Chaga tea is by far my favorite! I certainly enjoy the flavor and it’s ability to help my aging body with everyday aches and pains. I find it also relaxes me after a long day. Typically I switch to chaga as my go to drink once the morning coffee pot is empty. We boil the dried out chaga as described above, but we don’t filter it. There is a pot of chaga on the wood stove almost constantly during the afternoon and evenings.

                Chaga is abundant in our parts. It’s a spring ritual for my wife and I to go for hikes in the wilderness behind our home once the snow melts. A good day can supply us for the whole year. Nothing special about harvesting it. I bring a long chisel and a small camp axe to hit the chisel and my wife brings the bags to carry it in. We typically harvest about a third of it so we can come back a few years later and harvest more. We always use live birch tree and never dead or compromised trees. Never along a road system either as the wife says it will absorb car exhaust. I don’t know about that but I do what I’m told.

                The wife buys buys into all the miracle stuff that you see on the internet. Certainly the Russian communities and the Athabaskan communities in Alaska are big fans of it. From the price in the stores, some are willing to pay big bucks for it.

                Who else is is a big fan of chaga?


                • #9
                  FUNgi fan here, too! I wish I could find more chaga! (Only met it in the wild a few times.) Good to know about not harvesting it from compromised it is not the same as say, for example, harvesting delicious oyster mushrooms from a tree that may have signs of rotting inside? In what sense is it inferior? Taste? Benefits?

                  I am a devout believer in the many attributes of all edible and medicinal 'shrooms.

                  I love 'em fresh and dehydrated for longer-term pantry storage. To preserve the nutritional and medicinal benefits, I dehydrate mushrooms and other non-meat foods at between 105F/41C and 115F/46C which is a lower temperature than the typical 135F/57C to 150F/66C that is recommended for drying most vegetables, fruits, etc.

                  At these temperatures, figure on about drying for 1/3 longer the recommended drying times that you read in the books.

                  Raw foods enthusiasts also subscribe to this method of preserving foods because the enzymes and other goodnesses still retain their raw food state, although they are dry. I like not being dependent on a freezer!

                  I thoroughly enjoy dried mushrooms as a hot tea, or added to my favorite dishes during the last few minutes of cooking.

                  YUM YUM!!


                  • #10
                    GrizzlyetteAdams, my knowledge on chaga has been passed on to me mostly from my wife. She says that the chaga looses its positive benefits quickly once the tree is dead. When you look at the chaga on a dead tree, you can instantly see that it’s different. It isn’t as firm, the color is different, etc. When I say a compromised tree, it’s a tree that is dying or rotting out. We have noticed the chaga on some of these trees looked liked those on the dead trees. So her theory from observation and what she has read says simply best to avoid them.

                    Being someone with training in western medicine, I am always suspicious of some of the studies you see on the internet. So take what you see on line with some healthy scepticisim. That said, I also have learned to have healthy respect for pre-contact knowledge of the people who lived here before us “civilized” folks took over. Chaga was an important part of maintaining health.


                    • #11
                      100% + to what you said about learning certain things on the internet. Too much is parroted information, and some studies are so biased and flawed that they can become dangerous if someone takes them as gospel word.

                      And besides, millions of Native Americans, Aboriginals and other so-called "uncivilized" people know many things that science is just now beginning to learn...

                      Thank you for the Chaga info!


                      • #12
                        chaga is the in thing in our neck of the woods. Everyone and their dog seems to be collecting and selling it.