Saturday, May 10, 2014

Making A Pine Pitch Torch

Bushcraft Torch
I got a request to post a blog on how I build my Pine Pitch Torch's the other day, so here it is.
First your gonna need some Pine pitch, look for a White Pine or Pitch Pine tree.
The pitch oozes out of the tree wherever the tree has been injured.

I use my knife and pry the pitch off the tree and put it in a container to carry back to camp.
Make sure you take lots with ya, it's burns up fast.
The best woods to use for torch making are green hard woods like Hickory, Oak, Black Walnut, etc. I'm making this torch with green White Pine because it was plentiful and it will work good but doesn't last as long as other woods.

You'll need a straight stick 2 to 3 feet long with a point sharpened at one end to plant into the ground.
A small clump of Spagmated Moss or wet river clay to shield the inner torch chamber.
Six or more pieces of wood 4 to 6 inches long, a length of cordage, knife, and saw are optional for 
the building. I've made them with out any tools with good success before. Raw cordage can be made with braided plant matter, small pine roots and small vines.

Take your cordage and tie a small hoop to one end, then take the 6 smaller sticks and place them around the longer stick or torch handle that we place into the ground and tie it as tight as you can.
Keep the handle stick about half way between the smaller sticks to make a good size inner chamber.

Now that the chamber is tied together, stuff your Moss down into the bottom or coat with wet clay all around the inner chamber, just make sure that while using clay, you poke small holes around the sides and bottom for air intake.

Now just fill the chamber with a good clump of Pine Pitch and stake the torch down into the ground.

Lighting the torch is simple, just lay a lit match on top and away it goes.
I've had success using Magnesium Fire Starters and flint and steel as well.

As you can see, the Pitch will melt down and out of the torch, so be very careful as it's mighty hot and could ignite dry leaves on the ground.
This torch with one filling of Pitch lasted me 15 minutes. When it starts to burn low just stick in some more Pitch being careful not to extinguish your flame in the process.
Pine Pitch Torches are a fun Bushmans project and can be very useful tool in a survival situation.

Use a small can as a torch as I've done here.
Photo - J Michael Mann
Photo - J Michael Mann

Photo - J Michael Mann
Photo - J Michael Mann
Last Fall I found a Bear Scratch Tree, I took some survival trinkets with me, a hand full of hard Pine Pitch with Black Bear Hair stuck to it for a true Mountain Mann Torch with essence of Barr Fur, a candle that you will not find in any store or potpourri boutique!, a flame Lady Liberty herself would be proud to hold on a long winters night.