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Making Birch Oil From Birch Bark – Ancient Medicine, Tar and a Natural Superglue

Today we bring a Bushcraft Special!


Using our land in every way we can is very important to us. We have a large amount of Birch Trees on the property.  We’ve foraged and harvested Chaga Mushroom here from our Birch Trees.  This time we’ll be collecting oil from the bark of the Birch tree. We used an old pot with a hole drilled in the bottom, filled the pot with birch bark, and placed it above an old soup can that was buried up to about an inch below the rim. A fire was kept burning around the pot for 2 hours and the end result was 50ml of birch oil.

Human use of birch tar, which is made by further reducing the birch oil, dates back thousands of years with evidence of it being used to attach arrowheads, build canoes and even being used as a chewing gum. There is also indigenous knowledge of the oil being used to treat conditions like psoriasis and eczema. The oil is said to have anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, and anti-fungal properties because the bark contains Salicylic Acid and botulin, which are part of the tree’s natural defense system.


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