How to Peel Birch


No other tree has bark like the birch, and its thin, paper-like skin makes this tree a popular ornamental. The bark of the paper birch, also known as the white birch, is often used for organic crafts. Certain northeastern tribes of Native Americans used birch bark for a variety of functional purposes. They often peeled away sections of bark from living birch barks to weatherproof their homes and make storage containers or eating utensils. Harvesting a live birch's bark harms the tree, and you should not peel its bark unless absolutely necessary.

Step 1

Use a sharp, clean knife to make a vertical slit down the trunk of the birch tree to harvest a section of birch bark longer than 2 feet. Do not penetrate its dark inner bark. If you only need a small section of birch bark, simply examine the tree for already-peeling sheets.

Step 2

Wedge your fingers and hands (a butter knife can coax a stubborn section) between the peeling or cut birch bark and the darker wood beneath it to separate it from the tree.

Step 3

Grab the loosened bark with your hand, and gently, slowly pull it away from the tree. Do not force it. If it does not come readily, insert your hand between the peeling bark and the trunk of the tree again to loosen it.

Things You'll Need

  • Butter knife
  • Knife


  • Native Tech: Uses for Birchbark
  • Native Art in Canada: Building a Birchbark Canoe
Keywords: peel birch, paper birch, birch bark

About this Author

Emma Gin is a freelance writer who specializes in green, healthy and smart living. She is currently working on developing a weight-loss website that focuses on community and re-education. Gin is also working on a collection of short stories, because she knows what they say about idle hands.