How to Harvest Tree Sap and Use It [Step-by-Step Guide]

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:

1. Pick Your Tree

trees to harvest sap from

Here are 27 trees that are amazing for extracting sap from:

  1. Sugar Maple trees
  2. Black Maples trees
  3. Red Maple trees
  4. Silver Maple trees
  5. Norway Maple trees
  6. Boxelder trees
  7. Bigleaf Maple trees
  8. Bigtooth Maple trees
  9. Rocky Mountain Maple trees
  10. Gorosoe trees
  11. Paper Birch trees
  12. Yellow Birch trees
  13. Black Birch trees
  14. River Birch trees
  15. Gray Birch trees
  16. European White Birch trees
  17. Black Walnut trees
  18. Butternut trees
  19. Heartnut trees
  20. Buartnut trees
  21. English Walnut trees
  22. White Ash trees
  23. Apple trees
  24. Southern Yellow Pine trees
  25. Black Pine trees
  26. Loblolly Pine trees
  27. 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

uses for harvested 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

Self Aid

  • 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.

Candling Device

  • 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.

Fire Craft

  • 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.

Final Thoughts

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.

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2 thoughts on “How to Harvest Tree Sap and Use It [Step-by-Step Guide]”

  1. 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.

  2. 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!


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