Sap Tapping Tutorial

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Wel I have to say I'm disappointed in my results. I tapped my first silver birch tree on the dog walk yetserday morning, did it as per instructions used a drill bit, tube and plastic bottle. Continued on the walk and got back to the tree about 15 mins later to find an eggcup full in the bottle. Not too shabby I thought. Then with great anticipation took my first sip of this nectar from the gods, this sample of tree-distilled moisture, this amazing substance everyone's raved so much about.

Is it supposed to be just water?

It really wasn't anything special, ok a slight hint of sweetness and a pleasent aftertaste too. But really, is that it? Mine was as clear and as runny as water can be just out of a tap.

Seriously thinking of jacking this bushcraft lark in now after this set back and join a monastery... I've got the haircut.


Mar 22, 2011
Wikipedia says "Hollowed elderberry twigs have traditionally been used as spiles to tap maple trees for syrup."

Anyone tried this with birch?


Aug 20, 2006
Wrexham, North Wales
tested a tree today on a walk with the dog, the sap was rising pretty good here. question from a tapping novice though, does this look like a "good" tree to tap, is there any minimum size etc, and is it the right type of birch ? sounds daft, i'm pretty sure it is a silver birch, but all the trees i have seen in tutorials for tapping, don't look as silvery, if that makes sence.



Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Sep 21, 2005
That's definitely a Birch Alan - whether it is silver or any other 'flavour' its doesn't really matter. It's hard to tell the scale of the tree's in your pick but they look OK, I tend to ensure the trunk is bigger than 12" across. This is more to lessen the percentage of sap that I take and feels kinder to the tree if that makes sense.


Aug 20, 2006
Wrexham, North Wales
Thanks mate, I need to get better identifing trees, I'm a bit clueless to be honest, I was on the lookout for a piece of lime to make bow drill set but came home empty handed :(
Mar 28, 2011
In my limited experience, it's rather difficult to direct the sap into your container from a carved stick, unless you have a hook and a small pale with a handle to hang directly under it, as the tap hole should be at least a couple of feet off the ground.
I like this method and intend to try it myself - I think the bottle will help to prevent contamination by bugs etc.
It is also more easily concealable than a hanging bucket - so you can leave it to collect while you go and carve a spoon somewhere else!

Great tutorial - thanks!

the interceptor boy

Full Member
Mar 12, 2008
so when it is the best time to collect sap from birch trees. beginnings, mid, or the end of spring. excuse my ignorance is there a specific time to do that. cheers the interceptor boy.


New Member
Mar 1, 2011
Fife, Scotland
Around march go and check the birch mate once ecery few days until the buds open up then tap it. There is no specific time frame due to location.

Don't bother with HRH's squirrels toes mallarky because who knows how big a squirrels toe is and why a squirrels why not a rat or maybe a small cat?


May 11, 2010
Seriously thinking of jacking this bushcraft lark in now after this set back and join a monastery... I've got the haircut.
I guess if you were doing a long stint in the woods and tapped up a fair few trees you could be collecting enough to help keep you hydrated, but I know how you feel. It's not the awesome, all satisfying tidal wave of flavour some folks have made it out to be.

Eeither that or we're defficiant in taste buds or rubbish at sellecting good sap trees or something...


Dec 8, 2010
I missed the rise this year. Went out with my son about a week ago:

Me - "C'mon son, we're going Birch Sapping"
Son - "What Dad?"
Me - *Explained Process*
Son - "Cooooooooool! I'll get my knife!!"

But we were too late... test nicks were very almost totally dry, and after carving a beaut of a sap tap from hazel as well!
I've found that in previous years, a wooden tap soaks up some of the sap to begin with, and when it flows so slowly to begin with, one does not want to lose a drop! By this time next year I will have some decent tube or even a purpose made sap-tap, there are a wealth of taps that could be adapted for this purpose, the sap-tap hunt begins!

Great tutorial btw, succinct and simple :) Thanks for sharing.


Oct 2, 2004
Another question, four years later on! I still haven't managed to do this, but have just acquired an auger bit. I went for a 1" based on the omnipresent Mr Mears clip. From rereading this, I now feel I might be doing unnecessary damage if I use such a big bit. Plus, there aren't many Birch around here, and fewer Maple, is there anything else I can have a go at. I did subscribe to a guy's YouTube channel and I think he was doing Box Elder, but I could be making that up!

Advice appreciated.


Robson Valley

Full Member
Nov 24, 2014
McBride, BC
Looking good. There are several commercial businesses harvesting birch sap in my region.
I won't tell you what the size of the most productive trees should be.
Besides syrup, they render the sap even further to crystallize as candy.
You need to have somebody pour that hot syrup into pure cold snow to understand what candy really is.

However. I have both maple syrup and birch syrup in my kitchen. There's a discrete smokiness
to the birch that's ideal on buckwheat pancakes in the morning with lots of rich, dark coffee,
bacon and eggs.

On the dark side, you can ferment the sugars in birch sap to make wine. It is, without any doubt,
the most ferocious, skull-busting drink on any planet in the solar system. Never, ever again.

John Fenna

Lifetime Member & Maker
Oct 7, 2006
I pay "rent" on one of the woods I have perm to camp in with a couple of bottles of Birch Sap wine per year - made from sap harvested in those woods! :)
Personally I find the wine a pleasant table wine in strength...


Nov 26, 2014
In case any of you wondered you need at least 50lts of sap to make 100ml of syrup made this batch 2/3 years ago still got most of it as I feel bad using it tastes to good

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