Saturday, July 26, 2014

It was Sap/Pitch for Salve

If you happened to wonder by
a week or so ago,
I posted this picture to see if you could tell what it was.
The prior weekend, we went and got a load of firewood.
We found a red fir which burns well.
The kicker was that it was full of pitch.
I saved it and later heated it.
As it heats, it becomes more liquid.
And more transparent.
It will be infused into olive oil for salves and balms.
Pine (& fir, tamarack etc.) pitch has natural antiseptic properties.
So after 3-6 weeks,
I will pour the oil off and use it.
The ratio is 1 part pitch to 2-3 parts olive oil. 
The pitch pretty much ruins whatever you put it in
so I bought a very cheap pan from the thrift shop, a clean stick
for stirring, and am using jars that I had for recycle.
Also, when I was working with it and had it heating,
I had a brown bag on the counter.
I still managed to drip a few drops on the stove
then the olive oil ran down the side of the container.
The pitch need to harden to remove it more efficiently,
and the oil cleans up with warm water,
so it was one or the other.
This is a first attempt for me.
I am thinking as the pitch cools, it will solidify
and settle to the bottom.
I will have to keep you posted.
The other perk is that heating it indoors made the house
smell absolutely wonderful:)

Until next time,
Nimble Fingers and Even Stitches


  1. This may sound silly but how do you know it's full of sap? Is it sticky and layered inside or does it come out as your burn the wood?

    1. It was a standing dead tree that was pretty good sized. When we fell it, there was a ring that started seeping from the trunk. Hubby bunked it, then we had to roll the rounds down a cliff (or might as well have been) and through briers & brambles so we decided to split it there. As hubby was splitting it, the outer portion fell away from the inner 'core' and I scooped up the sap with a spork because that's what we happen to have. I just mentioned your question to him. He said, "You can't tell until you cut into them, but fire burned trees usually have the most as the roots are alive feeding a dead tree." He said back in the day, they would get tamarack and had mason jars ready because it would run out as they were cutting. Not good for the saws, but oh well.
      Sorry for such a long answer.

  2. I had no ideas what it was, thanks for enlightening us, what a good antiseptic you now have

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  4. I would never have guessed! I tried to get pine pitch for salve from our tree one year and with no luck... It seems to run when I am not ready for for it and when we wanted to harvest it, it was gone :( You have me inspired to try again! Can't wait to see what you do with it!

  5. I'm really enjoying looking thru your posts. I've never heard of pitch or tamarack or "hubby bunked it". So much learning to do still.

  6. Where can you get pine sap/pitch?

    1. Hi Nana, gathering is the same for pine, fir, tamarack, etc. We actually got this from a red fir for this but it smells the same:) We were getting firewood and there was a dead standing tree that had been dead for a year too long as far as firewood goes, but was perfect for gathering sap. There was about a 1/2 inch ring between the core of the wood and the outer layers. I used a spork and a grocery bag since that's what was in the pick up. Just scooped it up. You can also find where a tree has been injured and has a large clump of dried sap/pitch on the outside of the bark. You can cut (with a saw) or pry it off and melt and strain it, then infuse it in oil for using. I have never seen it available in a store. Hope that helps.