Monday, December 28, 2009

Pine Pitch


Before the last  storm dropped 17 inches of snow, I was out exploring a stand of pine trees with the dogs, and came across some pitch sources.  When a pine tree is injuried it will exude a sticky resin to protect the exposed area.  Pine pitch has been used for millenia as an adhesive/filler to haft points and as a waterproofing agent - as with bark canoes.  Tightly woven baskets were coated on the insides to make water containers by the desert peoples of the American southwest.  Slowly melting the pitch in a container over the hot coals, I'll usually add up to 50% powdered charcoal, from the charred limbs from the fire to strengthen the pitch.  If a  little more elasticity is needed, I will use some ground up dung from a plant eater, such as deer or rabbit, for the additive as traditional peoples have done.  Pitch sticks, for hafting points, are made by simply dipping a stick repeatedly into the hot mixture, and then into a container of water to build up a bulbous glob on a stick.  When you are ready to haft a point you simply heat the glob over the coals, melting it somewhat, and place a small amount in the prepared notch.  The point is the pressed in and seated as the pitch cools within minutes.  Wetted sinew then further ties the point more firmly into place as it dries and shrinks.  Not wanting to waste any last pitch residue, I will usually wipe the ends of some small tinder sticks with the flamable pitch to save for  future firestarting efforts.  Pictured above is dried pitch, dart foreshafts that have been hafted using pitch and sinew,  prepared pitch and tinder sticks.  On the left is a burl of a cottonwood tree that was pitch coated to make an expedient water cup, from an excursion.


7 comments:

Murphyfish said...

Hi Mark, Possibly a daft question but why dung from a plant eater and not a flesh eater or omnivore for that matter? I’m guessing something to do with fibers but knowing me I’m way off the beaten track.
Best regards, John

Mark said...

You are right on with it being the fibrous content in the scat.

Le Loup said...

Good post.
Le Loup.

David said...

good luck your involution proyect... i'm trying to do it too many years in the woods of spain.

Your skills are too beautiful, i use original in my litlle villaje can find a lot of them, paleolitic and neolitic...
sorry my english is a root.

dave sus strofa

Chris Thompson said...

what types of pine trees are best i was noticing some types were clearly better than others?

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