Extracting Tar Pitch From Fatwood

   08.25.20

Extracting Tar Pitch From Fatwood

(Image: Screenshot from video)

Now this is pretty cool. I’ve used “fatwood” as fire-starter pretty much all my life, though this ol’ Southern boy learned about it as “lighter’d pine.” Fat lighter, fat wood, lighter knot, heart pine (or whatever you want to call it) is simply wood in which the natural resins have been concentrated. In the southern USA, it can be found lying in the woods anywhere longleaf pine trees grow.

The high concentration of resin, also known as pitch or tar, is what makes it so great for starting fires. But that resin is also great for other stuff, including waterproofing.

The guy who made this video uses it to waterproof the sinews on his homemade stone-tipped arrows, and he shows how to extract it from chips of “fatwood” from a Douglas fir tree.

He gets a big coffee can and places a couple upside-down shallow cans in the bottom as spacers. Then he chips up the fatwood and puts the chips in the can… the spacers give the pitch somewhere to go when it’s cooked out of the wood chips. Then he partially buries the can and builds a fire around it.

He left the fire unattended and the shifting firewood pierced his makeshift aluminum-foil can lid, allowing the fire inside the can… that set some of the chips alight. He smothers the fire in the can using moss and a flat rock, and finds a fair bit of usable pitch in the bottom of the can.

If you’re really interested, view the video description for more details of the process. I think it’s an interesting way to get good waterproofing/adhesive stuff from natural materials.

Ever tried anything like this?

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