Made some Birch Oil

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Janne

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Feb 10, 2016
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You can not use rotten tree stumps, you need to use the resin impregnated stumps. Best ones are found on the outskirts of Marshes and wet lands.
If you use an ax to split those stumps, it is almost like chopping hard plastic. and the wood is dark with a "wet' or "fat" surface. Smells of Turpentine or resin.

Slivers of this wood is used by many bushcrafters as candles, to start a reluctant fire and so on. I believe you Brits have a word for this kind of wood?
 

Monikieman

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Jun 17, 2013
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Hamish. I've made some leather treatment which (I think) is 50% tallow/25 beeswax and 25 lard. Dampen the leather and apply and rub in.

Makes really nice hand cream too!!! Ping me your address and I'llpop one in the post if you want.
 

Dreadhead

Bushcrafter through and through
Excellent stuff Hamish.

When I was over in Karmoy they were making tar on a semi industrial scale to tar the New Longhouse.

Your scaled down version is a lot more manageable.

aye this is just a wee experiment but if i was making turnshoes a lot I would try and scale it up but to be honest I love making pouches, boots...not so much! :)

Some really interesting ideas coming out of this thread :)
 

Dave Budd

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Jan 8, 2006
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stinky stuff isn't it? :D

I've made a few litres of birch oil this way over the years (normally about half a bean can at a time). I use the nice steel biscuit/sweety tins too. When reducing it to make tar or thicker oil, I've found two things: don't rush it by rapid boiling as you end up with lots of crunchy bits in the oil or a bean tin full of flames; secondly it take hours to reduce it.

The last batch I made (was a couple of years ago, so may've forgotten something) I reduced it down on the back of my woodburner over night. It was a gently simmer, so didn't break down whatever is in there to go crunchy and the liquid went from water thickness to more like syrup or treacle. I was using it as a resin to glue historical knives together, so mixed it with beeswax and charcoal dust.

I have a fair bit of birch and have considered getting a kiln together to produce it properly, but I don't really have a good (ie economical/financial reason) to make lots of tar or oil.
 

Dreadhead

Bushcrafter through and through
stinky stuff isn't it? :D

I've made a few litres of birch oil this way over the years (normally about half a bean can at a time). I use the nice steel biscuit/sweety tins too. When reducing it to make tar or thicker oil, I've found two things: don't rush it by rapid boiling as you end up with lots of crunchy bits in the oil or a bean tin full of flames; secondly it take hours to reduce it.

The last batch I made (was a couple of years ago, so may've forgotten something) I reduced it down on the back of my woodburner over night. It was a gently simmer, so didn't break down whatever is in there to go crunchy and the liquid went from water thickness to more like syrup or treacle. I was using it as a resin to glue historical knives together, so mixed it with beeswax and charcoal dust.

I have a fair bit of birch and have considered getting a kiln together to produce it properly, but I don't really have a good (ie economical/financial reason) to make lots of tar or oil.

aah that's interesting Dave. When you reduce it to tar, do you remember how much volume is lost? I still fancy getting tar from it. I may get the outdoor BBQ lit up and just leave it on there to simmer away
 

Dave Budd

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loads. I think the bean can that was half full (so about 2") ended up at about 1/2" by the time it got to syrup.

I was reading something interesting about pyrolosis and the making of charcoal and the like a while back. Just like when distilling liquids like crude oil, different components come off at different temperatures. Retort kilns run hotter than open kilns when making charcoal so that the woodgas is used to create the heat needed to convert the wood, thus consuming less of your charge. It also means that you have less tar coming off and blocking your door, chimney, etc. So if you are aiming for oils and tars a slow, cooler burn is better than a hot one as you won't lose and oils whilst the gases combust. Some of the kilns used to make Russian Oil have channels dug under them for the oil to run down and into a vessel during the burn; then the charcoal is left but as it has been incompletely converted or converted at a lower temperature you get clean burning firewood (brown ends rather than charcoal or wood actually)
 

Dreadhead

Bushcrafter through and through
That's interesting, makes sense keeping it a cooler temp, though not sure I'd manage that level of precision at this stage haha. I'm still debating whether it's worth reducing it to tar if i'll end up with such a minimal amount. I wonder if birch tar combined with pine pitch would be a good idea or if it's just complicating things
 

Dave Budd

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you could mix the two, no idea what the product would be lie but I would imagine that the distillates will be similar, even though the saps that we draw from the trees are very different in properties.

To be honest the small amount does go a long way. The only reason to render it down to a thick tar is if you need a thick tar, so something like glue or a had setting resin. Any added binders that are solid such as beeswax, tallow and charcoal thicken it, the 1/2" turned into about an inch of hard themoplastic resin when the binders were added whilst warm and liquid. I've heard that the pine pitch painted onto wood is often thinned (turps) a long way to use it. I bought a bottle of the economy end pine tar fro Dictum a while back and it is very dark, thick and stinky (kind or half way through my birch reducing) and the bottle recommends thinning it but I don't recall how much (I'll check when I get to work).
 

Toddy

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Jan 21, 2005
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Personally I find pine tar to be sticky, and I don't know what it would do to the mix :dunno:
Real turpentine (around £20 for a fiveL container last time I bought it) is the organic solvents distilled from resin from pine trees. Nowadays it's a byproduct of tree pulp production too.

Unfortunately the same name is given to a modern petroleum distillate :(

Real turpentine used to be used as teatree oil is nowadays for skin issues, but now we're told that this is contraindicated and not advisable. I still use it in my furniture polish :)

I suspect that this is similar to the stuff that is 'burnt off' as the oil is reduced to tar, and that it might be the stuff that was used as the rifle 'oil'.

M
 

Dreadhead

Bushcrafter through and through
So yesterday I lit up the outdoor BBQ and had my birch oil in an unlined can sat in there for over 4 hours bubbling away. All i've ended up with is less oil haha no tar! At home I have some beeswax mixed with soot that i was using for filling in antler carvings so i think i'll mix that with my birch oil and hope that makes a sort of tar-like substance see if that works
 

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