Pitch and Glue
Photos and text by Rob Bicevskis
|There are many situations where one might need some glue
while in the bush. Obvious "sticky" things include the sap from
many conifers. This sap, gum, or pitch can be used directly,
but oftentimes needs to be "tuned" for a specific application. The
pitch can be too runny, or on the other hand it may crack too easily.
Various materials can be added to the pitch to adjust the properties.
Lard or fat has historically been used to soften pitch and this was
often used in sealing birch bark canoes. Materials like charcoal
and herbivore scat can be mixed with the pitch to create a more or less
universal glue. The charcoal and scat modify the pitch so that it's
not too runny or too brittle. When this mixture is stored on a
stick we have what is "commonly" referred to as a "pitch stick."
("Common" in some circles anyway :-) )
shows some of the raw ingredients.
The tin on the left is where raw pitch was heated
to separate out bits of bark, wood etc.
The jar on the right contains the "purified"
At the front of the photo are a few pieces of
No scat was used in this instance.
was powdered by rolling a stick on it.
shows some melted pitch mixed with the powdered
the finished pitch stick.
A stick is repeatedly dipped into the
The stick can be put into cool water to speed up
the cooling process, then another layer of pitch can
To use the pitch stick, the end of the stick is
placed near a heat source - a fire, candle etc. When the
pitch has melted, a dab can be place where it is needed.
To have the pitch adhere better, the parts that are to be
"glued" can be pre-heated.