Pine Pitch Glue (PPG) Tutorial

A references section devoted to the creation and use of miscellaneous primitive weapons.

Pine Pitch Glue (PPG) Tutorial

paleoarts
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paleoarts
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Joined: June 26th, 2009, 3:47 pm

September 5th, 2010, 4:00 pm #1

pine pitch glue...or PPG, for short. i get a lot of questions on this stuff. what is it, how to make it, how to use it, and so forth so i decided to put together a short tutorial for you guys. the first thing you have to do is get a quantity of pine sap. just about any evergreen tree will exude sap (pitch, gum, resin...or whatever you want to call it). some species more than others. i prefer actual pine but spruce, sequoia, and several others will do. it usually seeps out of wounds on the trees surface, i.e. broken branches or cuts in the bark. it can be viscous or hard and ranging in color from white to gold to dark brown all on the same tree. i like to collect in winter when most of it has set up and isn't as sticky, but it can be harvested any time. here is the stuff i got today, all from one tree. it's been unseasonably warm here lately so this stuff was on the whitish side and fairly sticky, but also very clean.

the next ingredient you need is charcoal. this acts as a binding and stablizing agent for your PPG. i pulled mine out of my fireplace. a couple of chunks is all you'll need for several batches. here i am using an improvised 'metate' for a grinding/pounding stone and pulverizing the charcoal into a coarse powder.

i like mine nice and fine so i run it through a screen sieve to get out the larger pieces. when i'm done it looks like this..

the third and final ingredient is traditionally the dried droppings of any grass eating animal such as deer, rabbit, and so on. these are essentially nothing more than concentrated pellets of crushed and dried grass that, when broken up and mixed in, act as a structural agent much like rebar does in concrete or gravel in cement. i don't know about you, but i have a slight aversion to handling poop, so i usually just collect and use plain dried grass that i then crush up into a near powder. today, however, i realized that i was out of it and looking out my window i realized that all the grass around here is green! oh no! what could i do? i desperately need PPG for several unfinished projects. well, i was standing in my garage thinking what might be a good substitute, when a buzzer went off. it was my clothes drier and, looking over, that's when it hit me. drier lint! of course! i couldn't believe i hadn't thought of it before. essentially it's nothing more than very fine natural fibers. i quickly grabbed some and got to work.

alright, the first step is to melt and clean the sap. it's very important that you don't overheat your pitch at any point or it will become brittle. i use a heat gun set on low power and held at enough of a distance to simply melt the chunks into liquid which i strain through a sieve to remove any bark, insects, or other debris. you could also use a standard hair drier for this or a double boiler.  




once you've melted and cleaned all your sap, start adding charcoal a little at a time, stirring constantly and reheating it from time to time to keep it viscous. it should take on a nice black, silvery sheen and have a consistent texture like heavy batter. now, add your grass (or lint!) and mix well. the exact proportions are more of a personal preference but the general consensus is 4:1:1 sap, charcoal, grass. i suggest you mess around with it until you find what you like. when it's done, it should look something like this...

it should be silky and smooth and stick to just about anything when warmed up and hardening when cool. here, i am making 'glue sticks' using the cut quills from turkey feathers...


when warmed, pieces can be pulled off and molded with the hands for all kinds of applications. here i have rolled it into strings and pressed it into my sickle blades then reheated it so it forms around them.


i usually keep several of these 'glue pops' handy at all times. a quick pass over a low flame is all that's needed to soften them for use.  
well, i hope this answers some of your questions and inspires you to make your own primitive adhesive. for an even better video version of how to make PPG, check out Paleoaleo's (Tom Mills') youtube video.  
 
Chris Henry/Paleoarts 
 
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peridexis
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peridexis
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Joined: August 31st, 2010, 8:33 pm

September 6th, 2010, 9:26 pm #2

I tried this earlier today, also using dryer lint and it kind of worked. It wasn't a consistent texture though, a bit lumpy, but it works: it's very, very sticky and dries hard. I just need some more practice.

Thanks for the tutorial!
Peridexis
In Life's name and for Life's sake, I say that I will use the Art for nothing but the service of that Life. I will guard growth and ease pain. I will fight to preserve what grows and lives well in its own way; and I will change no object or creature unless its growth and life, or that of the system of which it is part, are threatened. To these ends, in the practice of my Art, I will put aside fear for courage, and death for life, when it is right to do so -- till Universe's end.
-The Wizard's Oath
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rainingarrows
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rainingarrows
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Joined: July 24th, 2010, 4:19 pm

November 18th, 2010, 12:28 am #3

I also tried useing a hair dryer and it sorta worked but would not drain through the seve, pretty lumpy, but very sticky,i will be trying this agian soon, thanks for the directions, rainingarrows!!
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Sean etc
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Sean etc
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Joined: October 5th, 2010, 7:08 am

November 24th, 2010, 11:58 pm #4

Hey can you use the pitch stuff that comes out from peach trees when you cut them?
I'm 90% sure that stuff is similar to pine pitch, it as golden and sometimes a bit transparent and is sticky but does not come off when you rub your hand together like most glue and forms a plasticy skin when left to dry
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paleoarts
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paleoarts
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November 25th, 2010, 12:23 am #5

not sure, Sean. give it a try and let us know.
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aztec
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aztec
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Joined: July 17th, 2009, 4:27 am

November 25th, 2010, 2:40 am #6

ive seen that stuff before sean but i have no clue weather it would work or not..but its worth a try
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Sean etc
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Sean etc
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November 26th, 2010, 7:40 am #7

Well, so far so resin at all. I might be able to locate a pine somewhere close. How long usually does it take for the resin to come out of the tree? During the summer
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eddiearrowheads
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Joined: December 23rd, 2010, 10:45 pm

December 24th, 2010, 7:19 am #8

the "wound" on a tree if big seeps faster so .... what i do is i have one old tree in my yard and i cut a larg gash along time ago (10 years) and i collect the dryed white sap it works well because i cut only through the bark then a little into the tree : ) so as not to harm it and well it still makes sap
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paleoarts
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paleoarts
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June 1st, 2011, 12:02 am #9

here are a few pics of the tree i harvest my sap from. i'm not sure of the exact species (maybe some of you can help with identification). i've been collecting from this guy for about 4 years now. it's only maybe 6-8'' in diameter but yields enough from its single wound that i can get nearly a full gallon ziplock bags worth six or seven times a year. sometime in this trees early days it got its trunk cracked in a wind storm and it has never fully healed properly. as a result it kicks out major amounts of good quality sap on a regular basis. when searching for resin producing pines it's better to look for young trees versus old ones, and for wounds on the trunk versus branches. never, EVER harm a tree intentionally to gain sap. that goes against the very ethos of paleoplanet.

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yannyboy
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yannyboy
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Joined: July 4th, 2010, 12:52 pm

July 19th, 2011, 3:50 pm #10

Is this pretty much tar?
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paleoarts
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paleoarts
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July 20th, 2011, 12:29 am #11

it's tar like, yannyboy, but not exactly. tar is basically the by-product of ancient rotting vegetable matter, much like oil, and seeps out of the ground. PPG is just evergreen tree sap with some stabilizers added to make it more elastic and managable.
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Mozartghost17913
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Joined: May 16th, 2012, 2:09 pm

May 29th, 2012, 8:57 pm #12

Thanks for the heat gun idea... I was trying to do mine in the microwave! The whole house smelled like a forest fire and the pitch barely even melted, it just started to burn!
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PoetArt
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PoetArt
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Joined: May 17th, 2013, 5:24 pm

May 23rd, 2013, 7:33 pm #13

Been up to the burned forest to collect pitch. I find that where the trees are dead there is scant chance. Where only the grass burned likewise. Inbetween is the right heat zone, with more pitch than anywhere else. Mixed pines. But in the drought, still took 6 hours to collect 1/2 lb. of pitch.
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Hammerstone
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Joined: September 19th, 2013, 6:07 pm

February 16th, 2014, 12:42 pm #14

So how big is the "wound" supposed to be? I've tried to collect pitch a couple of times but couldn't make it... there was just a little drop of sap.

Or would it be better to cut off a branch and put a bottle there that collects the sap?
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sailordad
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Joined: September 21st, 2008, 5:17 am

February 16th, 2014, 1:22 pm #15

the wetter the year,the more ethe sap will flow

if you have a pine tree on your own property i would make a cut about 1/4 the way around the tree,thru the bark to first layer of wood and no deeper,then i would make this cut about two to four inches wide,and water the heck out of the tree daily.you should have a good flow of sap in a matter of a few days

or do like i do
i go to local and county parks in the spring time when they are manicuring the landscape
i find all the pine trees that they have trimmed and start scraping the sap from all the cuts i can reach
i can usualy fill a round plastic margaring container(lb size) with less than an hours work invested.
the wife doesnt mind when do this because we take rides on the motorcyle to the various county parks in the spring time and she enjoys the ride and the walk thru the parks
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ateyo
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ateyo
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Joined: December 11th, 2014, 9:30 pm

July 10th, 2015, 5:23 pm #16

A very informative article. We have an acre of pines that we will be visiting next month. Last time we went, I brought a tiny glob of pine pitch, just for the fragrance.
Thanks for the heads-up MozartGhost! I won't be using a microwave to melt pine pitch, but know I know for certain that it won't work.
Silly question, PaleoArts: Can the strainer be cleaned (by melting, etc) and reused or shall I just buy a set from the dollar store and use a new one each time?
ATEYO
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ateyo
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ateyo
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July 10th, 2015, 5:26 pm #17

another silly question, PaleoArts: What did our ancestors use before the invention of sieves? Was early PPG filled with unavoidable debris?
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Inquisitorjm
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Inquisitorjm
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Joined: October 15th, 2015, 7:00 pm

October 15th, 2015, 6:35 pm #18

I'm very curious to know this as well. When one is out in the woods, a sieve isn't exactly going to be lying around. 
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