Using Tinder Fungus To Survive
You'll see tinder fungus, resembling large black botches, growing on trees, usually birch trees. When we see fungus on a tree we usually think of it as being rather harmless, unless it's not good for the tree, though most are indeed harmless, or as being somewhat useless and unimportant. After all, what can one do with fungus that grows on tree?
The simple answer is - make fire! Tinder fungus is one of those things that a survival expert will often spot right off the bat, and gather some for later use when a fire is going to be needed.
There is also a type of fungus called false tinder fungus. False tinder fungus is usually more recognizable as it forms a shelf of sorts on the trunk of the tree. Whether you come across true tinder fungus or false tinder fungus doesn't really matter a great deal, as they are both equally useful when it comes to starting a fire, with or without a match.
A Spark Of Pride - If you've never done it before, making a fire for cooking or building a bonfire starting from a bit of tinder can be a fun thing to do, something that leaves you with a definite sense of accomplishment, and feeling a bit more ready to tackle the wilderness on your terms.
Usually tinder consists of very fine wood shavings or pieces of dried grass, arranged in either a tepee-like structure or a bird's nest like configuration. The trick is to get a part of the little bundle started burning and then feed it with more pieces of tinder, then small twigs of wood, and eventually add larger and larger twigs until a nice flame is established.
Of course there needs to be something to get the tinder starting to burn on the first place and that something would normally be a live coal, a spark, or even a match. If you start with a coal, which might be at the end of a the stick of a bow string you've heated by friction, or if you're striking sparks from steel and flint, the two things you have to do is either gently blow on the coal to keep it hot until the tinder starts to burn, or generate enough sparks to get the tinder going.
The Fun Part, Nursing The Flame - Then it's a matter of blowing gently enough to get the tiny flame to spread, while at the same time not blowing too hard or letting a passing breeze put the flame out. As the flame gets larger and larger it becomes easier and easier to keep going, and in a few minutes, if you've been successful, you can break out the marshmallows.
Tinder fungus, when dry, will catch sparks and begin to burn, with either a small flame or more likely will glow like a hot coal. The latter is just fine, because you can place it in some tinder and blow on it to get a fire started. It's the reddish interior of a chunk of tinder fungus which is the useful part. It can be cut into tiny chunks and kept dry until needed.
While survival is the key thought here, a nice feature of tinder fungus, be it true tinder fungus or false tinder fungus, is that it burns with a very pleasant smell, like an outdoorsy incense.
Slightly Ugly, But A Potential Life Saver - Tinder fungus is a good example of one of those things a survival expert will notice and make use of, while most of us wouldn't give it a passing glance. It seems that sometimes even the most unglamorous things, and tinder fungus certainly fits into that category, could in certain circumstances literally mean the difference between life and death.