Making Pitch Glue

By John Campbell

 
 

This is a fun project I have done thousands of times in about as many different ways. I find pitch glue to be useful in a variety of projects. I use it to haft stone arrow and atlatl darts, bone and stone spear points, waterproofing primitive vessels that will not come into contact with heat, and even patching some primitive items. In the past I have used this glue to coat the insides of baskets and coal burned containers to seal cracks and keep them water tight. However do not add this to containers you plan on using for boiling or cooking, this makes a pretty good mess and it tastes pretty bad to boot.

100_1056 To make this you first need to find a pine tree. The sap will appear as huge globules on any injured part of the tree. This can be where another tree or branch fell and damaged the trunk. This sap will begin to ooze so the tree can begin healing itself, much like the reason we bleed. Look in highly used camping areas, the trees will have cop marks and bullet holes. This is very unfortunate for the tree but it can supply a very quick and easy way of harvesting plenty of pine resin and even fat wood if needed. Gather this stuff of the tree and place it into a container.

Cow Crap and CharcoalBefore this is prepared there are a couple more ingredients you will need. The first is some kind of plant material that has been dried, ground up, or otherwise pulverized. In this case we have cow crap. In the past I have used rabbit, deer, elk, and just about any other grass eater. I chose dried cow crap simply because it was very plentiful in the area. Adding these kinds of droppings to the glue mix is beneficial because it saves a lot of elbow grease. Using dried plant matter like dead mullein leaves will work very well too, it just have to be processed before you can use it. So why not just let an animal do the work for you? This is added to pot to act a lot like fiberglass. These fibers will give more strength to the finished glue.

100_1116The next ingredient is charcoal. This must also be worked and ground into a fine powder before it can be used. I do this by removing hot coals from the fire and burying them. If you are in a previously used camp site you can simply take some of the charcoal from the fire that was there previously.

No its time to work the pine sap. This can be done a couple of ways. I will place it into a found metal tin and allow it to melt on the fire. You can also grind the sap before hand; this will allow quicker and more uniform melting. I will then place this on the fire and allow it to melt slowly. The pine sap will also have a tendency to catch fire. I will simply remove it from the coals and blow it out.

 

Pitch Glue Once the pine resin begins to boil you can add your plant material and charcoal powder. I like to mix a 1:1 ratio of plant matter to charcoal and a half to 1 of material to the melted sap. I will then stir this until it is mixed thoroughly and allow it to simmer for around 3 minutes. This will usually result in the finished product I am partial to.

Now you’re finished, at this point I like to find some sticks and roll the glue onto them to make a type of applicator. These pitch sticks make it much easier to apply to projects like arrow points and the like. While using pitch glue it is best to work with both pieces being heated. This will give a positive bond between the surfaces. The remaining pitch can be kept in the tin and used later. This can also be melted again and used in water proofing baskets and other vessels.

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