Tapping sap from a pine tree

V-shaped notches used to tap sap from a pine treePine tree sap can be tapped and used to make paint and resin products. It makes a great water-proof sealant for buckets and tarps and can be used as an adhesive (boil it to reduce thickening and add ash to it to strengthen its waterproofing qualities). Pine tree sap can also be used as stove fuel and it can be boiled and mixed with ash or sand and compressed to make concrete. Fortunately, tapping a pine tree for its sap causes no permanent damage to the tree.

To begin, find a mature, live, good-sized, tight-barked pine tree for the best results. Pine trees most suitable for tapping include Southern Yellow Pine, Black Pine, Loblolly Pine, and Improved Slash Pine. Even though pine trees are evergreens, sap will run faster in the early spring and early fall and in warm weather.

Using a machete, hatchet, or similar tool, hack the bark away from the live wood about 3 feet from the ground to create a 10 inch wide by 6 inch high cleared area.  It is in this area that we will score the tree to reach the sap.

Place a bucket flat against the bottom of the cleared area and tie it tightly against the tree so it remains in place. The bucket will need to fit tightly against the tree to collect sap as it oozes from the tree. If the bucket is not flexible enough to conform to the shape of the tree, use a piece of metal flashing to form a funnel leading into the bucket.

Next, hack “V”-shaped notches in the cleared area above the bucket. The bottom of the scored “V” should point towards the bucket. Leave the bucket attached to the tree to collect sap as it drains from the tree wound. It may take days for the sap to ooze and collect in the bucket. If the sap flow decreases, cut additional, fresh “V” notches in the tree.

When you occasionally check the bucket, remove any debris that has fallen and collected in the container.

A pine tree that has been tapped repeatedly for sap over a period of many years

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