Spalting my birch. #1: Does this really work?

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Blog entry by JeremyPringle posted 11-15-2012 04:48 AM 3989 reads 0 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Spalting my birch. series Part 2: 45 days later. »

While I am waiting for my french polish to dry on my spice cabinet, I decided to do something that has been nagging at me for a while. I have this chunk of birch….

And I heard that there is a process you can do to turn some wood into spalted wood all on your own. Take the chunk, place it in the dirt, put some dirt on the top and let the moisture and humidity take over…. and volia. How could I resit not doing this on my own?

As you may be able to tell, it is from someones backyard, not a lumber mill, thus I can say with almost 100% certainty that it has been air dried. I have no idea if that matters or not, but I am guessing that a kiln may kill those precious little tiny bugs that may be laying dormant in this wood… just waiting for the right time to start growing those wonderful black streaks. Ah spalting, you put the fun back into fungus!

So, all I have to do is go into my yard and place this chunk into the dirt and put some dirt on top? Ok, walking to the door…..

Oh yeah….. I remember…. I live in Canada… But I am not going to let a little snow get in my way, no siree. So I run back to my basement and get the next best thing…....

Thats right! A tub with some dirt in it.

So I add some water to the dirt and I wet the top and bottom of the birch and I stick it into the dirt, then I make a little mud and put it on the top as well. Put some more water in it and put the lid on. I will add a little water everyday and check its progress. Just something to keep me occupied this winter that does not include camping out downtown.

8 comments so far

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

29530 posts in 2387 days

#1 posted 11-15-2012 12:03 PM

Should work. Water being the carrier, don’t be afraid to keep it fairly wet.

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View jap's profile


1251 posts in 2103 days

#2 posted 11-15-2012 01:10 PM

i’ll be watching for the results

-- Joel

View Grumpymike's profile


2269 posts in 2365 days

#3 posted 11-15-2012 05:49 PM

I was tought that spalting in birch, alder etc is a mold process; the first stages of rot and not bugs.
Kind of like the beetle kill pine that Monte uses, ... the beetle kills the tree …by eating the water carying layer right under the bark. Then the mold sets in a bit later turns the pine to a grey color that we call blued pine.
With all that in mind, I think that your Idea should work.
In my younger days I lived in Washington state and always had a good supply of alder, if it was stacked outside for a while in Washingtons damp inviroment it would become spalted and only good for fire wood now. (Geezz, had I known then, what I know now.)
I will be interested to see if your experiment works out.

-- Grumpy old guy, and lookin' good Doin' it. ... Surprise Az.

View bonobo's profile


297 posts in 2106 days

#4 posted 11-15-2012 06:42 PM

If this works, you can start a sideline selling artisanal spalted birch.

-- “The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also.” ― Mark Twain

View Arlin Eastman's profile

Arlin Eastman

4247 posts in 2611 days

#5 posted 11-15-2012 06:55 PM


I have done this many times and it is just like making compost. I use lots of leaves from the winter and in the spring I put all the wood and leaves together for a few months and I check every 3 weeks to roll everything and it come out very nice.

If you just want some black line spulting it will only take a few weeks to do and then get it out of the pile right away.


-- It is always the right time, to do the right thing.

View a1Jim's profile


117159 posts in 3626 days

#6 posted 11-15-2012 07:15 PM

I seems you could speed up the process by splitting the log in half. I have seen a native american showing how to spalt wood just by having a split log laying on the ground water for a couple weeks.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View DocK16's profile


1184 posts in 4136 days

#7 posted 11-19-2012 02:03 AM

Spalting comes from the by-products of fungal growth. Maple is the most commonly found spalted wood in nature, but you won’t find it on/in a healhy tree. It is found in trees that have fallen and in the early stages of decay. You can spalt your own wood, ingredients: wood (duh) maple, birch, hackberry; a medium for fungal growth: damp mixture of sawdust, dirt, leaves to add tanic acid, preferably oak, and some fungal spores,(those mushroom type growths you find on rotting trees, water and a little warmth. mix them all together in a large rubbermaid container and cover it (not air tight, but enough to keep it from drying out) Store it in a warm place(any of those in Canada) and check on it every week or so add water if dry, spalting should take couple months, but don’t leave so long it rots Let me know how u make out.

-- Common sense is so rare anymore when you do see it, it looks like pure genius.

View Brit's profile


7396 posts in 2892 days

#8 posted 12-29-2012 01:44 PM

Any progress on this Jeremy or is it still too early to tell?

-- - Andy - Old Chinese proverb says: "If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it."

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