Collecting and Processing Raw Pitch

Pine rosin is getting more difficult to come by but don't let that stop you because it is so easy to collect and process your own pitch.

Here in eastern Washington and northern Idaho there are lots of ponderosa pine trees. In other areas trees such as balsam fir, spruce, etc. will do the trick.

In some areas up here I can just go for a walk with a plastic bag and collect enough pitch for a canoe in a couple of hours. The other day with my students from the Advanced Class we filled a bag in less than an hour. I just use a hunting knife to pry the pitch from the tree. In most cases it is attached to bark but you will see that is no big deal.

Once you have collected a decent amount take a big coffee can or one of those big cans you can get from restaurants that vegatables, etc. come in. Take cheese cloth - you can get this at your grocery store (it costs about a buck) - and place it over the top of the can. Let is sag down into the can and then take a string and tie it tight.

Put the pitch in a fry pan, pot or some suitable container (best to have a handle). Heat it up until it is liquid. Slowly pour the pitch through the cheese cloth into the coffee can. The bark and debris will collect in the cheese cloth. You may want to squeeze the glob of pitch and bark that collects in the cheese cloth against the inner side of the can to get all of it out. Don't throw this glob out, just let it cool. You may want it for a torch :-)

The pitch will cool and will look just like pine rosin. Now all you have to do is mix it with fat and you are good to go. The best fat of course is bear grease, but you can use lard or even Crisco. If you aren't a bear hunter and want to make bear grease check with butchers that process wild game and set it up for them to save you the fat. It is technically illegal to sell bear parts but we are talking about a gift here. In an upcoming newsletter I will go over how to process that fat into bear grease. To figure out the correct ratio of fat to pitch go to the "Tips" section on the web site. This has been covered in earlier newsletters. Good luck!

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