A spore syringe is an essential tool for any home mushroom cultivator. These syringes keep spores hydrated and clean making them easy to transfer to a sterile environment. Spore syringes make it easy to make grain spawn or start new agar colonies in a snap. On top of all this, they’re very easy to make at home and only require a few ingredients.
Making a Spore Syringe
- A spore print
- Glovebox or Flow Hood
- An empty 10cc syringe
- A lighter or alcohol lamp
- Sterile water
- Two glass canning jars (half-pint jars work best)
- Gloves (should be worn for the whole process)
How to make a Spore Syringe, Step by Step:
- Sterilize your tools: Use a pressure cooker or other sterilizer at 15 psi for a minimum or 30 minutes. Your syringes, jars, and scalpel should all be sterilized this way.
- Clean your work area: Use 10:1 isopropyl alcohol. Ensure that you let excess alcohol evaporate. Your work area should either be in a flow hood or a glovebox.
- Fill one jar with clean water: Use sterile water, either purchased or made, that has been filtered. Sterile water can be purchased at any local drug store.
- Draw 10ml of water into your syringe: Draw up the water and then immediately recap the syringe without touching the opening or syringe cap.
- Transfer spores: Open your spore print and scrape them into the empty jar with your scalpel. You don’t need to take the whole print, but the amount you take will change the concentration of your spore syringe.
- Suspend the Spores in Water: Open your syringe again and transfer the water into the jar with your spores. This will suspend the spores in water and allow them to hydrate.
- Mix and finalize the syringe: Draw the spore laden water up into the syringe. Expel the water into the jar once more and then draw it up again before capping the syringe. This helps break up the spores and ensure they are not clumped together.
- Cap and set the spore syringe: The spore syringe needs to set for 12-24 hours before use. Depending on the length of time you had the spore print the spores may be dormant and will need time to “wake up.”
- Repeat this process until you have made all your syringes: Be sure to clean your scalpel with your alcohol torch after each use and let it cool completely before using it again. Never light an alcohol lamp in a glove box that was cleaned with alcohol, it will explode.
Additionally, if doing multiple types of mushrooms, use a clean jar for each spore print used.
Proper Storage of Spore Syringes
Spore syringes can expire and do not keep as long as a spore print, so they should be used within a week if kept at room temperature. If you need to store them longer they can be kept in a refrigerator for 4-5 months, but will be best within 60 days of creation. Make sure and store your syringes in a clean air tight bag, such as a zip lock. Never let your syringes freeze as the ice crystals will destroy the spores.
Using Spore Syringes
When you are ready to use your spore syringe be sure to let the syringe come up to room temperature first. This will help with a few things, one of which will be reducing condensation on the outside of the syringe which can trap contaminates. Also, be sure to clean you syringes with 10:1 isopropyl alcohol before working with them in a clean space.
To use your syringe simply uncap and deliver your desired amount of liquid to your grain or agar. A single 10cc syringe can inoculate multiple jars of grain, but the less liquid you use the less penetration and coverage you will get. This may cause the jars to propagate more slowly.
Wrap Up: Spore Syringes Are an Easy Yet Core Fungiculture Skill
Spore syringes don’t take a lot to make, but rely on careful aseptic technique and a knowledge of how to handle them. If you follow the directions here you should be able to easily create enough spore syringes to start growing a large amount of mushrooms from scratch.