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Thread: A Pine Pitch Thread

  1. #1
    Certifiably Bushed Supporter WoodsJack's Avatar
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    Default A Pine Pitch Thread

    A search didn't turn up any topical threads specific to this.

    Recently, a tree went down in a storm here. Unfortunately, it was on someone else's property and they got to harvest the wood. Fortunately, they allowed me to have at it a bit and harvest some of the pitch deposits on it:



    It's a pretty good batch. Now I'm looking for methods to strain and clarify it, to produce cleaner, smaller pieces.

    I'm finding some online descriptions of ways to do so, but wanted to check with folks here about their ways and experiences and maybe consolidate the info in an easily identified thread for this purpose.

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    Guide Bush Class Intermediate Certified Jonah L. Archer's Avatar
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    This is an excellent article on the subject.

    http://primitiveways.com/pine_pitch_stick.html

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    When I have made pine pitch before, I usually just boil it in a container over a fire or camp stove, and the scum comes to the top and I just scrape it off.

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    Tinder Gatherer bwise's Avatar
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    Default Purifying pine pitch

    Woods Jack,

    The easiest way I have found the purify pitch is to take two containers that will only be used in preparing pine pitch, and an old T-shirt with two sticks (about 2 feet long). First I tie a stick to the base of the T-shirt, you can use either tape or any cordage you want to. Next I run another stick through the armholes of the T-shirt and secure each arm with tape or use cordage so that it doesnít fold in whenever you pour the pitch mixture through it. Next start a fire using one container to place the pitch you wish to purify in and place it on the fire. Also, I donít know if this is true or not but I have been told you should not allow your pitch to come to a rolling boil, I only allow it to come to a boil and start the next process. The next step is easiest with two people. You should already have your secondary container ready to receive the mixture and have your T-shirt strainer nearby. As soon as your pine pitch begins the boil, take it off the fire (carefully so that you donít get burned) and pour it through the T-shirt. You twist one way, and your helper twist the other way over the container you wish to catch the material in. The T-shirt catches all the debris and your container is left with purified pine pitch. I did not invent this method, this is the way I was taught. I hope that I have explained this well enough for you to understand it, I was born without the teaching bone.

    Edit; there are quite a few videos on YouTube that shows several methods of doing this. This man does his primitively but I enjoy his videos. gotrocksinhead
    Mods. If I'm not allowed to name someone on YouTube just delete it.

    good luck,
    bwise.

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    Put it in a sock or something that can take the heat of melting it

    Then once liquid just remove the sock that's filled with the junk

    works for beeswax

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    Certifiably Bushed Supporter WoodsJack's Avatar
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    Thanks for the tips, so far, everyone. Some here, along with others I've seen elsewhere have raised a coupla' questions/concerns in my mind. Granted, I haven't yet tried any of these, but before I do and in the process of choosing which way(s) to go, I'm wondering:

    1. Some folks seem to be advising mixing the pitch with other substances in the process, before making "ingots", cakes, etc. Stuff like beeswax, charcoal, critter poop, etc.

    2. Some folks caution about both the pitches high flammability and noxious fumes when heating.

    3. Some folks describe heating/boiling the pitch in water and then somehow "skimming" it off/out, rather than just pitch boiling.

    4. Some advise wrapping pitch in some type of cloth before/during immersion and then pressing that down while in the solution to squeeze filter the pitch out in the container. Others advise pouring melted pitch through filters or lifting filters from bottom of pot once heated/melted.

    5. Etc.

    Lots of these seem sensible to obvious, which is why I'm hoping for more actual personal experiences and, of course, a disasterous but hilarious account or two.

    Again, thanks all.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jonah L. Archer View Post
    This is an excellent article on the subject.

    http://primitiveways.com/pine_pitch_stick.html
    Now I have to redo my resin stick. Didn't think about sharpening the end.
    That article was amazing. I can report that pine resin, rabbit droppings, and charcoal work
    very well together also.

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    Scout Murat V's Avatar
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    My experience has been with the heating & filtering method. Here are some pics from '08 when I harvested trays of raw pine / spruce gum for pitching my birchbark canoe. Would've been easier and faster with a second pair of hands but I was working solo. Setup was simple enough. Used a pot bought for $1.99 at a thrift store to melt the gum. You have to consider the melting pot a write-off...no way to get it clean ever again. Went to my local park and set up simple alcohol stove rig (open tuna can with methylated spirits) between some stone bricks. Also got a disposable roasting pan from the dollar store meant for the purified resin.



    No way I could do the whole load in one shot, so melted the supply in batches. Doesn't really give off "noxious" fumes but extremely pleasant to my nostrils. Very flammable though so you need a lid for your pot to quickly snuff out any flames. Prepped some cotton cheesecloth with sticks stabbed into each end to form a crude hammock. This was laid over the roasting pan and the melted gum poured in.



    Twisted the sticks and extracted the gum best I could.




    Repeated about 4 times to get the purified resin.




    Let it cool then brought it back home and put in the freezer. Busted up the chunks and put them into ziploc for storage.



    Freezing the resin prevented any stickiness on the hands when handling the stuff. From here you can add whatever else is needed for your pitch mixture - powdered charcoal, grasses, animal droppings, lard, whatever.

    The cleanest method I've ever seen was recently shown in this post from a 1946 film showing the making of an Algonquin birchbark canoe. They stuffed the resin in a burlap sack, pressed it under boiling water, skimmed the melted gum, dumped it into cold water and then worked it cleanly into a twisted package. That footage starts around the 6:55 mark.

    Let us know about your pitch technique too

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