Re: Pine Tar / Naval Stores
- Dear List,
I would disagree a bit with the directions supplied by those folk from up
North on making pine tar (er, that's north of central Georgia and Florida).
They seem to think one needs the heartwood of a pine tree.
Further south, resin was collected by scraping the bark off a four to six
inch wide strip some two feet long on a living tree at slightly above
waist height and hanging a container -- rough clay pots were common -- at
the bottom of the gash to collect the resin. Sometimes a "V" of metal was
driven into the tree at the bottom of the slash to channel the flow. The
resin was collected and taken to a distillery, where it was boiled up in
order to distill off turpentine, with the residue being pine tar. In my
youth, finding whole stands of large pines in the woods bearing such scars
was common. The practice didn't seem to have harmed the trees very much,
and would have been much easier than cutting them down and then hacking
them up to get heartwood.
As for resin-impregnated heartwood when found on the ground, usually in the
remains of a tree which has fallen and otherwise rotted, it has two prime
uses. If it's long enough and large enough, it makes a superb fence post
-- it will never rot, and termites won't touch it. Smaller knots and
pieces can be chopped into small splinters and used for firelighting --
even in the rain. Indeed, in Florida it's called "lighter'd", or "lighter
wood", and is as good a birch bark for the purpose.
Oh, yes -- my sainted mother's cough and sore throat remedy: Take a lump
of clear, hardened pine resin. Crush it into a powder. Mix half-and-half
with granulated sugar. Take about a teaspoon of the dry mix and drip one
fair-sized drop of kerosene on it. Er, then consume it. (I should note
that thiswas during the great Depression, and we lived well out in the
country, but it obviously didn't kill me or my sisters, and it doesn't
taste any worse than Vicks...)
I have the Honour to Be, etc. -- John Seitz