If you ever find yourself lost in the wilderness, the pine tree is a gold mine as pretty much all parts of the tree can be used in one way or another to aid in your survival. Whether you need to bandage up a wound, in need of a drink, making fire, or you get a little hungry, the pine tree can do it all. Today, however, we are looking to the sap of the tree and more importantly, how to use it to make our own glue.
You may not think that glue is going to help you get very far in a wilderness setting but actually it can be invaluable when it comes to making repairs, waterproofing your shelter, and creating tools. Believe me, this stuff is super strong!
How to Identify a Pine Tree
It has been estimated that there are over 126 species of pine trees around the world and they are native to most countries in the Northern Hemisphere. I am sure that if you have spent any time wandering through the wilderness, you will have come across these trees before and can be easily spotted by their needle-like leaves, cones, and their bark.
The leaves of the pine tree are referred to as needles due to their long, thin shape. If you look closely at the base of the needles you will see that they grow in clusters at the point where they grow from the branch.
- If growing in clusters of 2 then it is a red pine
- If growing in clusters of 3 then it is a yellow pine
- If growing in clusters of 5 then it is a white pine
The bark of the pine tree is usually either a light-gray in color or a reddish-brown. This bark will be smooth to touch in younger trees but as the tree ages, the bark becomes rough and flaky.
The pine trees that you may come across will have either male or female cones that you will often see scattered around the ground. If the cone is female it will be fat with rounded woody petals that shoot from its thick middle. When you think of a pine cone it is usually the female that we all have the image for in our heads. The male cones are soft and only appear in the Spring before they die away once they have released their pollen with the help of the wind.
How to Make Glue From Pine Resin
The sap is easiest to collect in the winter months as it will be hard but can be collected in the warmer months too without any issue. If collecting in the warmer months you can follow this tutorial to tap a pine tree for the sap. In the winter months, you can simply chip it from the tree in it’s hardened form.
You are also going to need charcoal which you can take directly from the fire. You won’t need much so just a few small pieces will do just fine. You need to grind this charcoal into a coarse powder. This will help to temper the resin and reduce the stickiness.
The third ingredient you will need is filler material that will be used to strengthen the glue compound. The best choice is to use rabbit droppings although the droppings from any vegetarian animal will do perfectly fine. If you can’t find any suitable droppings you could use dead dried brown grass but you will need to grind it into a fine powder.
Now that you have all your ingredients prepared you can move on to melting the sap that you collected from the tree. You have to be very careful here so as not to overheat it which will destroy the compounds. Once melted, you can go ahead and slowly add your charcoal with one hand while stirring the mixture with the other hand. The mixture will start to resemble a hard batter which is when you can add the powdered droppings. The ratio that you want to aim for is:
- 4 parts sap
- 1 part charcoal
- 1 part droppings
The resulting mixture is your glue which you can mold into any shape you like as it cools for easier storage. When you need to use it you can simply reheat it to turn it back to its liquid state.