Tuesday, September 23, 2008

More Gum Refining

Since my last post on the gum harvest, I've been actively collecting more oozing pine & spruce gum for sealing the canoe next year. This time however, I've kept my collecting exclusive to my city neighbourhood. The harvest has been absolutely amazing. I never really noticed all the red pines and white spruce trees in my neighbourhood and over the course of many days, I've been trekking around with my gum knife and some containers, stopping to investigate and collect the globules of precious resin. In the end I ended up with another 3 containers full (about 8 lbs) of raw gum (with debris, bark, needles, etc) that would need to be purified.

I set up a little camp in a local park and used some discarded bricks to support a cheap pot purchased at Goodwill for $1.99. The heat would be supplied by a simple empty can filled with Methylated Spirits - crude but effective. My pot wasn't big enough for all the gum, so the whole load was done in 4 batches.

A container of raw gum; The outdoor setup; Melting in the pot

Once each batch was thoroughly melted, I ended up pouring it through a cheesecloth filter with the ends tied to sticks to form a loose basket. All the video's I've seen show two people twisting the gum out with a filter, but I was alone, so I did my best to squeeze out as much as possible before the gum began to set. The purified gum with its deep amber colour was collected in an aluminum baking tray.

Pouring out the hot pitch

Lifting up the cheesecloth filter

Twisting in opposite directions to squeeze out

Tray full of purified resin

I've saved the used, resin soaked, twisted cheesecloth with the sticks to be used as great firestarters for the campfire next year. Back at home, the tray was put in the freezer for a while and then the frozen and brittle mass of gum was cracked into chunks for storage into a ziplock bag. With this haul and the previous load back at the cottage, I've got about 6.5 pounds of purified resin. Should be enough to make the quantity of pitch I'll need for sealing the canoe in the spring.

Frozen mass of gum; Broken chunks; Stored away


Mungo said...

Oh, and doesn't it just smell amazing? I keep a lump of it on my desk at work to remind me about the outdoors, beyond computers and telephones... :-)


Murat said...

It's a fantastic aroma - just amazingly sticky. I unfortunately had some on my fingertips when taking the photos, so now the camera has a wonderful adhesive layer...the wife is not pleased!

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