Pine Sap Candle

It seems there is very little if any information about home processing of pine sap. I have read multiple times that pine sap makes a very good fire starter so I figured why not try to make some kind of candle. There were a few pine trees in a park near me that had some wounds covered with thick layers of dry sap. I pulled off a few chunks from each tree and put them in a plastic bag.

Back at home base, I took the chunks and heated them up in an tin can over my pocket rocket backpacking stove. I was careful not to let to mixture get too hot (it seemed to want to start bubbling as soon as it was liquid). The reason was I simply wanted to melt the sap, not distill it or change it too much chemically, that will come later when I "play" with the processing steps.

Once it was liquid, I tried pouring it through a coffee filter --> no luck. I switched to a cotton "shop rag" available at any auto store for next to nothing. The sap did filter through this material pretty well. It was clean and had a very nice honey color after the filtering step. I imagine that if you cut a tree and collected liquid sap you could skip the filtering step, but I did not want to hurt a park tree (at least not one right on a trail where everyone would see my collection bucket...).

For wicks, I used some cotton rag with some regular hair beeswax product worked in.

To keep the wicks in place, I used a twig. After letting the sap harden, and for the sun to go down, I lit one of them.

It lit pretty easy and it burned quite well for about 5 minutes. It did throw off a lot of black smoke though. Once the wick got near the sap, it started the sap on fire. So I basically had a pool of burning sap and a burning wick. Eventually the wick became a smoldering knob and the pool of sap and the wick went out. so prototype 1.0 was a failure. The next iteration will employ a different wick material, perhaps a fiberglass wick.

In the end, you will end up with a cotton rag soaked in pine sap and full of pine bark bits, I can not think of a better fire starter.