Its wood is used for woodturning and veneer, as well as for wood pulp, plywood, furniture, coffins, coffee stirrers, clothes pegs, toothpicks and broom handles. It makes good firewood because it gives off plenty of heat even when still green. Birchbark makes a good fire starter even when wet.
Paper birch was unquestionably the most useful tree for indigenous peoples in northeastern North America. First Nations used its bark for making baskets, mats, writing paper, shelter (including wigwams) and their famous birchbark canoes, which allowed them to travel on lakes and rivers. The bark was sewn onto a cedar frame with lashing made of spruce or larch roots. The canoe was then coated with spruce or pine gum to make it waterproof.
Like sugar maple, white birch may be tapped in spring to make syrup. The sap flows freely, but is not very sweet. The sap quickly turns to vinegar when placed in the sun.
The inner bark is edible. It must first be dried, then ground into flour, which can be made into bread or pancakes or used to thicken soup. The bark can also be cut into long ribbons and boiled to make birch noodles. It can also be eaten raw.
The young buds can be made into a tasty tea to treat cellulite, fever and arthritis.