Tar, Resin and Glue Resources

I was answering a question about pine oil on one of the forums I frequent and thought I would collate the various resources mentioned here.

Pine Oil
It has something of the character of an essential oil and has disinfectant and antiseptic properties. It isn't for internal use however as it can be poisonous. It is made through steam distillation -  the oil is too fragile to be distilled like tars. If you've ever made pine needle tea I'm sure you've observed the slight oil that comes out of the needles - what you need is some method of condensing the steam to collect this oil.

Pine Tar
Pine tar is made through destructive distillation - think along the lines of making charcoal and collecting what is a kind of liquid smoke from the container. The most resinous bits of pine seem to be most favoured in its manufacture - you can see Ray Mears watching it made here from 8:15 in.

It was used extensively for preserving timbers and ropes in the days of sailing ships and is at the root of referring to navy sailors as Jack Tars and North Carolinans as Tar Heels. Pine tar is also used in some all natural soaps.

Is made from the distillation of pine sap. It also has cleaning and antiseptic properties but is not safe for consumption. It has actually got some similar properties to pertoleum products and was used in Honda motorbikes in post war Japan. It's not as efficient but it worked. It was also burned in lamps, though the smell can be rather strong. There are a series of videos looking at pine tar soap and turpentine here.

Birch Bark Tar
This was one of the great inventions of the mesolithic age and there is still a lively debate as to how it w\as extracted in that era as pottery was not yet in use. There are some modern day primitives making it with containers as seen here
It was also used as a chewing gum and there are modern ethnographic techniques for distillation (PDF)
If you want to try making it the best tutorial I've found is at Jon's bushcraft.
I shall include a couple more similar resources as they're also good, Primitive Ways and Practical Primitive are two sites I visit often anyway.
Birch tar is also used in the production of "Russian Leather" which I've not found a wealth of information about apart from this PDF.

Pine Pitch
Aside from it's use as a spluttering and spitting fuel for fires and torches pine pitch, the hardened resin from old wounds of the tree, can be used as a glue or varnish. There's a good primitive tutorial here for the glue - it's usually mixed with charcoal as otherwise it's too fragile to use. The varnish is apparently made through dissolving the pitch in alcohol or turpentine, although it seems to be used more by violin makers than bushcrafters.


Post a Comment