16 Uses of Sticky Pine Sap for Wilderness Survival and Self-Reliance

by Todd Walker

16 Uses of Sticky Pine Sap for Wilderness Survival and Self-Reliance | TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Scavenging resources in a wilderness survival situation can turn up life-saving stuff. That’s why developing a possum mentality is vital!

Our ancestors walked our woodlands and learned to use the resources most modern outdoor enthusiast overlook. Essential woodland resources seem to be invisible to the modern eye. The stuff you’ve got packed in your woodcraft/bushcraft kit or bug out bag are consumable. You’ll eventually use up that roll of duct tape… or, more than likely, you forgot to pack it.

Not a problem. Pine trees produce a sticky substitute with superior benefits!

Learning to identify and use natural resources has gotten me out of many sticky situations in the woods. Pardon the play on words as we explore the many uses of this tacky, amber-colored pine sap I call Jewel of the Woods!

Collecting Sappy Jewels

Pine trees secrete resin as a defense to close wounds from insects or other forces. The sap provides a protective layer or sealant over the injury . The sap hardens forming an amber glob which turns dark in color over time. On fresh wounds, you’ll notice a whitish layer of sap covering the damaged area. With time, large clumps form making it easier to harvest.

Harvesting fresh resin can become a sticky situation. The fresher the glob, the more sticky and pliable. On dedicated Jewel of the Woods harvesting trips, I carry a grub knife, one I don’t mind getting covered with resin. To remove sap from my good blades in the woods, I use a bit of Everclear (190 proof) from my flask on a piece of cloth.

For hardened resin, poke a sharp object (grub knife or sharp stick) into the base of the glob and pry it loose. It’ll break off and fall into your hand or container underneath. That’s when you’ll notice the crystalized form inside which resembles a beautiful piece of amber stone.

For hard-to-reach spots high in trees, my friend Joe at Feral Woodcraft shares his clever resin harvesting tool.

Now that you’ve gathered a fair amount, what’s this sticky stuff good for?

A.) Self Aid

  • Pine sap properties include: antiseptic, astringent, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial
  • Treat wounds – apply it to cuts like you would super glue. Follow first-aid protocol for cleaning/flushing first.
  • Stop bleeding – apply a soft glob (heat if necessary) to help stop bleeding.
  • Treat skin rashes and eczema with ointments,tinctures, and salves. For tinctures, use 190 proof Everclear since resin won’t dissolve with watered down alcohols.
  • Chew softer sap straight off the tree like a gum for sore throats and colds. You could pre-make “gum” with these ingredients: bees-wax, pine sap, and honey.

B.) Glue/Epoxy – Pine Pitch

  • Turn pine resin into pitch sticks. Jamie Burleigh has a great tutorial of his method on Primitive Ways.
  • Hafting arrowheads, fletching arrows and gluing other primitive tools and weapons.
  • Waterproof boot seams, canoes, and containers.
  • Patch holes in tents and tarps.
  • Pretty much any thing you need to glue or patch in the woods, pine pitch is the product.

C.) Candling Device

  • Place globs of dried resin in a fatwood torch to extend its burn time.
  • Pitch sticks, described above, can be used as a makeshift candles.
  • Melt sap and soak a cotton bandana or rag wrapped around a stick for a torch.
  • Melted or liquid sap poured over a dried mullein stalk works as candle/torch.

Mullein torch

D.) Fire Craft

  • Fire is life in a wilderness survival scenario. Even on weekend camping trips, fire offers core temperature control, cooking, and hot cocoa! Resin is your secret weapon to starting and keeping a fire going in wet conditions. Anyone who’s used resin-rich fatwood in rainy conditions appreciates its important role in fire craft.

  • Resin is highly flammable. Once lit, you can dry marginal tinder and small kindling.

16 Uses of Sticky Pine Sap for Wilderness Survival and Self-Reliance | TheSurvivalSherpa.com

  • Harvest liquid sap into a container from a fresh cut in a pine tree to add to a makeshift torch. Secure the container under the exposed bark to collect the sap. Use this liquified sap as torch fuel.

Once you learn to identify this sticky life-saver, you’ll find it difficult to walk past a pine tree without scanning for this Jewel of the Woods!

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,


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Categories: Bushcraft, Camping, Doing the Stuff, First Aid, Preparedness, Self-reliance, Survival Skills | Tags: , , , , , | 44 Comments

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44 thoughts on “16 Uses of Sticky Pine Sap for Wilderness Survival and Self-Reliance

  1. Pingback: 16 Uses of Sticky Pine Sap for Wilderness Survival and Self-Reliance | Modern Homesteader

  2. Pingback: Prepper News Watch for February 5, 2015 | The Preparedness Podcast

  3. rondennis303

    I thought that you might find this of interest:


    Thanks for your wisdom.


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  5. Doug Sell

    Great tips! Here’s just an editing note though…..ointments, tinctures, and slaves? HAHAHAHAHA, that was just too funny!


  6. Thomas

    Another page of Todd’s that i will be saving for future reference. Thanks man.


  7. Here in the north of Sweden we make a traditional healing salve from fir tree sap and tallow. Great stuff for healing deep, infected wounds. I’ve used it successfully, but nervously, on a bone deep, infected operation wound to my knee that wouldn’t heal. It’s gotten to the point where I hardly ever return home from a trek in the woods without a clump of sap.

    Liked by 1 person

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  9. Pingback: Sticky Pine Sap - Wilderness Survival - The Emergency Survivalist

  10. Amber

    My husband collects sap for fire starter, he will be pleased to know its medicinal properties as well. Thanks!


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  13. I have started collecting pine sap into old Altoid cans. They are small, light, and somewhat strong. Your site is the best I’ve came across for prepping and survival! Thanks again….. Jim


    • Many thanks for your kind words, Jim! I really appreciate it!

      That pine sap is such a great resource to collect and use. And those tins, I collect them to use for all sorts of things. Containers aren’t given a second thought until you don’t have one.

      Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-reliance!


  14. Carol

    I don’t have anything to add as I’m a novice at present but I’m really grateful that you’ve shared your knowledge with all of us. I will be collecting this and using it from now on. Cheers, Carol


    • Welcome to the journey to self-reliance, Carol! So happy to hear you’ve gotten started and you found this info helpful.

      Keep in mind, in a true survival scenario, I’d drink untreated water to avoid dehydration. Most symptoms show up over 72 hours later. The typical lost hiker or hunter is located within the first two days or so.

      Keep doing the stuff, Carol!


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  16. Great and amazing tips that’s very helpful. I also watch the v ideo and it’s kinda interesting. Thank


  17. Pingback: 16 Survival Uses For Pine Sap - SHTF & Prepping Central

  18. Pingback: 7 Secrets for Burning Sticks in the Rain | Survival Sherpa

  19. jason

    I was always getting stung by hornets when i was young, and that stuff works great, pull the stinger out too if you use a bandage over it for 24 hrs.

    in the woods, i will use willow leafs and pine sap for bandaids


  20. Steven

    Can be used to remove slivers as well. Soften and form over the embedded sliver. Allow to harden then pull away. Got this from Michael Moore’s Mountain West herb book.


  21. Reblogged this on Patrick' s Bushcraft and commented:
    Good info here on the uses of Pine Sap / Tar


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  28. Dee sevilla

    I use pine sap for arthritis I mix it with wd 40 I put little bit of sap in an spoon and spray some wd 40 on it and hold it over the fire to melt and blend together let it cool some then rub where the pain is


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  34. Pingback: How to use sticky pine sap to survive in the wild: treating rashes, starting fires and more - Us Politics Info

  35. Russell

    I have a question about using it to glue plywood together with 11/4 x11/4 boards to build a pirogue ? I want to use natural materials instead of modern epoxy I also plan to waterproof the whole thing with a pinetar mix used by the Vikings. would like your thoughts
    Thanks Russell


    • I’ve never attempted a water vessel. Sounds like a great project! I would think you’d need something stronger to hold the plywood together. Batches of pitch glue can become brittle if the right ratio is not there. Scott Jones, my primitive skills mentor, mentioned once that sweet gum sap in the mix makes it more pliable. I know that’s not much help. It’ll be interesting to hear what you come up with for adhesive. Keep us posted, please sir!


  36. Hello, and greets from the middle of the Great bear Rainforest…. In this area we can gather and even tap resin. I’ll try the borehole method because it’s standardised and known to cause minimal insult to the tree, and yields a clean stream. I’m wondering what you can tell me about using the Woodpecker method to induce some resin flow that we can let dry and go back and snap off the bark later as it dries into short strands and small globs. There’s plenty of ground here that won’t grow a straight board but is wonderful open exposure for a resin tree.

    Duncan Crow
    GBRWorkers on FB


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