Knowing how to harvest tree sap and use it is an essential skill for preppers and survivalists alike. So, in this article, I will cover exactly that step-by-step.
It can come as a surprise, but the sap is an essential thing a tree can produce. When most people think about trees as tools, the first thing that comes to mind is a tree being cut down for its timber, which is then used for construction, carving, and paper goods.
The sap that runs through a tree, on the other hand, can be extremely helpful. Minerals, enzymes, proteins, and nutrients, to name a handful.
There are numerous trees that provide valuable sap that will support your home and family.
However, if you are not an expert in this area, getting started can be difficult. Read this step-by-step guide to help you learn how to extract sap from your plants, whether you’re harvesting sap from pine or a birch tree.
The first step is to gather all of the sufficient equipment for the job! You will need the following items:
- A holding tank (i.e., a gallon sap bag or a bucket)
- Drill tapping bit – my recommendation
- Rubbing Alcohol
- Spouts – my recommendation
1. Pick Your Tree
Here are 27 trees that are amazing for extracting sap from:
- Sugar Maple trees
- Black Maples trees
- Red Maple trees
- Silver Maple trees
- Norway Maple trees
- Boxelder trees
- Bigleaf Maple trees
- Bigtooth Maple trees
- Rocky Mountain Maple trees
- Gorosoe trees
- Paper Birch trees
- Yellow Birch trees
- Black Birch trees
- River Birch trees
- Gray Birch trees
- European White Birch trees
- Black Walnut trees
- Butternut trees
- Heartnut trees
- Buartnut trees
- English Walnut trees
- White Ash trees
- Apple trees
- Southern Yellow Pine trees
- Black Pine trees
- Loblolly Pine trees
- Improved Slash Pine trees
Now that you know what kind of trees are good for extracting sap from let’s go to the next step.
Find some mature tree(s) to which you have access. Before continuing, you must obtain consent from the landowner to make it known what you want to do. Tapping the trees would not significantly harm them if handled correctly, although it will reduce the trees’ worth as timber is harvested in the future. To get the best results, look for big, tight-barked trees, as shag barked trees would be difficult to get a tight fit on with your holding tank(s).
2. Choose Your Side
To extract sap, you can choose either the south or north side of the tree. Although several experts believe that the south-facing side runs sap faster, the north-facing side is preferable if you want to save the sap.
You can use your compass to ensure you’re facing the side you want.
3. Drill the Hole
Chopping the bark away from the sap (live) wood about 3 feet (0.9 m) above the ground and 10 inches (25.4 cm) high with your ax, machete, hatchet, or another chopping device. Scrape away the bark to reveal a 6-inch (15.2-cm)-tall portion of sapwood.
Then, make a hole about one and a half inches deep with your drill. And sure to do this as soon as possible and at a moderate upward angle. After that, double-check that the wood you drilled through is clean and not brown. If it’s orange, try another tree. If the shavings are white, remove the shavings.
4. Install Your Spout
The first and most important move is to sterilize your spout with rubbing alcohol. Then, with the hammer, tap the spout into the drilled hole. Do it softly so as not to cause too much damage to the tree.
A simple rule of thumb is to make sure the spout is tight enough to support any weight (like a collecting bag) but not so tight that it splits the wood. You’re able to harvest sap until the spout is in place!
5. Be Patient
The whole cycle normally takes between 14 and 21 days. However, some trees emit sap even faster than others, so keep an eye on your bucket or bag. Otherwise, any of your efforts can go to waste! To put it in context, trees yield anywhere from 3/4 to 1 gallon of sap a day.
How to Use Tree Sap
Here are some common trees with the listed benefits.
This miraculous sap can be used as a home remedy to heal cuts, avoid bleeding, and treat rashes. It is a natural antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, and astringent that both cures and bandages wounds.
For colds and sore throats, the smoother sap may also be chewed like gum. Pine sap may also be used to seal seams in boots, vessels, and containers. Indians used it to waterproof canoes and patched their teepees in the past. Despite its waterproofing properties, dry globs of the resin can be used as a moist fire starter.
Birch tree sap is known as one of the finest juices to drink. It contains xylitol carbohydrates, proteins, enzymes, and amino acids and is slightly sweet with thin syrup consistency.
Birch also has incredible soothing powers, detoxifying properties, and advantages for specific organs in the body, such as the liver and kidneys. Also, birch cellulite oil is said to help remove cellulite over time.
While maple syrup is most often associated with biscuits and pancakes, strictly extracted maple sap has been shown to enhance osteoporosis-like symptoms, prevent the development of gastric ulcers, and also lower blood pressure, and prevent hangovers.
Other Common Uses
- Treat wounds by applying them to bruises in the same way you can superglue. First, follow the first-aid technique for cleaning/flushing.
- Stop the bleeding by applying a soft glob (heat if necessary).
- Ointments, tinctures, and salves should be used to treat skin rashes and eczema. Since resin will not dissolve in watered-down alcohols, use 190 proof Everclear for tinctures.
- For sore throats and colds, chew smoother sap straight from the tree-like tobacco. You could produce “gum” ahead of time with beeswax, pine sap, and honey.
- Others from common trees discussed above
- Pitch sticks can be made from pine resin.
- Making arrowheads, fletching bows, and gluing rudimentary equipment and weapons.
- Boot seams, canoes, and containers are all waterproof.
- Repair rips and tears on tents and tarps.
- Pine pitch is the tool to use when you choose to glue or repair something in the woods.
- To increase the burn time of a fatwood torch, add globs of dried resin.
- Pitch sticks, as previously mentioned, may be used as improvised candles.
- To make a torch, melt sap and soak a cotton bandana or rag wrapped around a stick.
- A candle/torch may be made by pouring melted or liquid sap over a dried mullein stem.
- In a wilderness survival situation, fire is everything. Even on a weekend camping trip, a fire will provide central temperature stability, heating, and hot cocoa! In wet weather, the resin is your hidden tool for starting and maintaining a burn. Anyone who has used resin-rich fatwood in wet environments understands its importance in fire craft.
- Resin is very flammable. You will dry marginal tinder and small kindling until it’s lit.
- To make a makeshift torch, collect liquid sap from a fresh-cut in a pine tree and pour it into a jar. To extract the sap, place the jar under the exposed bark. As a torch fire, use this liquified sap.
As the last point, if you want to play with tapping new tree varieties, ensure that they are not poisonous. Often, be certain that it is not an endangered plant such as butternut or elm. Stick to deciduous trees, which shed their leaves in the winter.
In this article, you learned exactly how to extract sap from trees and how to use that sap for you and your family. Now, here are a few good resources I would recommend checking out.
- 11 Plants that are Edible & Nutritious for Survival
- Survival Medical Kit (The Ultimate Guide)
- 26 Survival Knots To Know Now (Most Essential Knots)
Let me know if you found this post helpful in the comments below! Please consider following us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. Also, consider sharing this content and subscribing to get 100+ free survival ebooks.
The inner bark of a birch tree is orange. I have been involved in tapping trees for sap since I was a child ,we absolutely never stripped the bark in a six inch swath. We simple drilled a hole and set a tap.
I like the notion of extracting sap from a branch since it’s less intrusive. I’m going to attempt that strategy for the first time. Thank you for this blog!