Purifying resin

By plantigrade on 2014.10.10 In Ancient skills Resin

I stumbled over a video on youtube from 1946, called “How Indians Build Canoes”. The title totally gives away the plot of the film, and though only 10 minutes long, I found it quite rich on informations. 7 minutes in, they show how Algonquin women traditionally purified spruce resin to mix with tallow, to seal the seams of the birch bark canoe. That made me think that it might be a great way to clean the resin before making pitch glue, and today I gave it a go. Basically what you do, is put the resin in a roughly woven bag of any sort and boil it in a pot of water. The bag will keep the impurities in, while the melted resin will flow through the fabric and rise to the surface. You the scoop up the hot resin and put it in a pot with cold water to cool. Now the resin is clean and ready for further processing.

Here is the video:

I’m quite pleased with the result, though I ended with both hands and my camera covered in sticky resin. The heat of the fire was too fierce and the water constantly boiled over, spilling the resin that rose to the surface. After a while I grew impatiant, took the pot off the fire and started squeezing the resin out of the bag by hand. It was effective, but messy. The cool side effect is a Spiderman like grip. You definitely shouldn’t use your best pots for this. Unless you really enjoy cleaning them. I made two bags. One with pine and one with spruce. 

resinResin in a net bag.



resin4During the squeezing process. Couldn’t take as many pictures as i hoped, due to sticky fingers.

resin3The result of my sticky struggles. Pine to the left and spruce to the right.




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    This blog is about my deep fascination with nature and wilderness living. The technologies, skills and crafts of “primitive peoples”, and the pre agricultural world. This won’t be without modern materials, but is for sharing my experiences/adventures with the full extent of my feet placed solidly and responsibly in the natural world.