Chaga tincture

Recently I have made some Chaga tincture.  Chaga (Inonotus obliquus), also known as True Tinder Fungus

chaga natural lore

is renowned for its medicinal properties which include; anti-tumor, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-viral, anti-septic, anti-inflammatory and it helps to strengthen the immune system.

It is recommended that you crush the mushroom into a powder and use to make a tincture (a tincture is an alcohol extract), but I wanted to use the fungus after to teach firelighting, so I broke it up into small pieces and placed in a tar which has an air-tight seal.  I then covered the pieces of Chaga with 40% vodka.

chaga tincture recipe

I sealed the jar and left it in a dark cupboard for two weeks, agitating the jar everyday.  After two weeks I poured the jars contents through a coffee filter, into a bottle.

chaga tincture

Then I put the pieces of Chaga back into the jar and filled the jar with fresh vodka and repeated the hole process again.  Eventually I had a vodka bottle full with Chaga tincture.  The Chaga pieces I have dried and use for firelighting and some of the tincture I have transferred into small medicine bottles and I take a dropper full of tincture two times every day.

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June at the cabin – Part 3

We are thinking to convert the wood store at the end of the cabin into a bunk room for 6 people and so using old materials I had lying around and timber we had removed from the wall in the cabin, myself and Ingvar decided to build a new wood store.

We nailed together three pallets and set on stones as the base

For the walls and roof we used timber from the cabin wall and old timbers I had stored

and we covered the roof with corrugated zinc

I used the old sliding door as a wall to divide the store in two.

Now I am busy collecting wood from an old forest clearing, cutting it up, splitting it and stacking it.

While out collecting wood I found a new bird species for the cabin list; a Whinchat (Saxicola rubetra) singing from a tree in the forest clearing.  I also found hundreds of these Morel fungi…..though actually I think it is more likely one of the False Morels

as here in Lapland they boil it in four changes of water before eating it to remove all the toxins.

Lapland Spring 2009 – 18th & 19th May

I arrived at Gallivare airport at 21:20 having left my home at 07:20 the same morning.  My friends Teres and Jenny were there to greet me and took my to the home of their parents and my friends Anki and Ingvar.  They had a meal ready for me and after a brief chat with Ingvar he headed off to bed as his next shift working in the mine commenced at 4am.  I went to bed just after midnight and here is the view from their window at 00:15

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Next morning I was expecting to travel to my cabin but Anki had a surprise for me.  Ingvar had arranged for me to visit and go down into the mine to see how they extract the most important component for steel axe and knife blades…..Iron.  The visit was arranged for the following afternoon (Wednesday) and so I had an extra day to spend in Gallivare.

I decided to go for a walk in the nearby woods and soon found a fine example of True tinder fungus Inonotus obliquus, used for firelighting and to make a tea and treat some forms of cancer.

True tinder fungus (Small)

Fieldfares and Pied Flycatchers were also nesting in the trees.  Ingvar finished his shift at 14:00 and we headed into town to buy some alcohol as they were planning a party for my birthday later the same week.

In Sweden the sale of alcohol is state controlled and to purchase wine and spirits you must visit a “System Bolaget”

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This is from their website;

“Systembolaget, the Swedish Alcohol Retail Monopoly, exists for one reason: To minimize alcohol-related problems by selling alcohol in a responsible way, without profit motive.

The first alcohol monopoly ever started in the mid 1800s in Sweden. It worked so well that the model was spread all over the country. In 1955, the local companies were merged to form a single, national Systembolaget company, a concept which still works.

Systembolaget’s product range is actually one of the most comprehensive in the world. It is being developed continuously to match changes in trends and in the consumers’ tastes.”

The rest of the day was spent chatting and eating and I went to bed that evening with the visit to the mine on my mind.  Not only because it was happening the next day, but also between 00:00 and 04:00 explosives are set off in the mine and you can feel the ground shuddering as this takes place!!

Weekend away

I have been away with friends this weekend and this provided the ideal opportunity to test out my new knife.  For such tasks as cutting and splitting wood it worked just fine but as a more challenging test I used it to carve a cup.

I used a spoon gouge to carve the inside bowl of the cup

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I secure my work against something with my foot and with the aid of a baton I can quickly remove large amounts of chippings to form the bowl.

I used my knife to do all the other carving work, shaping the cup and handle.  Here is the end result;

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The wood I have used is Birch and the beautiful patterning in the wood is caused by Birch Polypore.

The knife performed very well, although the top section of buffalo horn became a little lose, but when I got home I used a centre punch to rivet over more of the tang and now the handle is solid.

Winter in Lapland 2009 – 2

I was greeted by the sight of a new bird species in the garden on Monday morning.  There were many Mealy Redpolls feeding at the bird house

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and two of these were Artic Redpoll (Carduelis hornemanni).

After breakfast we were sitting in the living room chatting about fire and tinders and Anki showed me this wall decoration incorporating a False Tinder Fungus (Fomes fomentarius).

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Ingvar has many fishing nets and some in need of repair so I took my netting needle and gauge with me to show him how to make and repair nets.  He picked it up very quickly and I was soon surplus to requirement.

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In the afternoon myself and Ingvar went for a walk in the forest (skogen in Swedish) using the snowmobile trails as the snow is compressed and easier to walk on.

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Ingvar was teaching me some of the animal tracks and signs in the snow, and then we walked along a road

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to see  the Gallivare Ski jump where several well known jumpers have trained, including Anki’s brother.

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Checking fences and paths – 19th November

After strong winds we have to check all livestock fencing and paths on the reserves to ensure no fallen trees have damaged or blocked them.

As I was walking along checking sheep fencing I noticed a movement from the corner of my eye. I looked around to see a Common Darter Dragonfly (Sympetrum striolatum) landing on a fence post.

The latest date I had recorded one of these previously was the 14th November and with the cold weather we had had recently I was surprised to find one on the 19th.

This particular site also has a lot of Horse Hoof Fungus AKA False Tinder Fungus (Fomes fomentarius) growing on Birches.

To obtain amadou I find it best to collect young specimens like those on the right of the picture as they are almost all amadou, with almost no spore tubes and the outer layer is much easier to remove.


This specimen was interesting as at sometime a small Birch twig had broken away from the tree and had then been engulfed by the fungus.

If however you have a specimen with a lot of spore tube do not discard it as this too once dried will take a spark if the surface is roughed up with a knife.

To find out what I do with the amadou layer take a look here http://fenlaners.blogspot.com/2008/08/false-tinder-fungus-amadou.html

Shaggy Polypore

This is Shaggy Polypore (Inonotus hispidus)

It is quite common on the reserve at this time of year

I have only ever found it on Ash trees but it can also be found on Beech.

The top has a very velvety feel to it.

Eventually it turns black and after several months will fall from the tree.

It can be dried and used to take a spark but it is by no means one of the easiest fungi to ignite.