Pine Sap Lamp





Introduction: Pine Sap Lamp

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One of my favorite parts of being in the woods has always been the challenge of creating usable objects from natural resources. It requires creativity to make due with what nature provides. There are an abundance of materials available in nature that make things easier, if you know how to use them. Pine sap is one of them. There are a million ways you can use pine sap, and eventually I plan on talking about more of them. But for now I will focus on the pine sap lamp.

The pine sap lamp is simple and can be improvised just about anywhere there are pine trees. There are 4 items you will need:

1- A bowl shaped rock

2- Pine sap

3- Moss (or something else to act as a wick)

4- Flame (or at least a good spark).

Step 1: Find a Good Rock

Find a rock that has a bowl shaped depression. You could use a bowl if it was a bowl that you had absolutely no desire to use for anything else ever again. Because it will be changed forever. Plus part of the fun of making one of these is getting by with natural resources. This is the rock I ended up with. I recommend something with a deeper depression, if you can find it. You'll see why later.

Step 2: Find Pine Sap

Once you have a nice rock picked out, start collecting sap. It can be old and dried out or fresh and gooey. Doesn't matter. I collected a palm full for this exercise. Don't worry if there are chunks of bark in the sap, they will melt out.

Step 3: Find a Wick

I used a piece of moss for the wick. I imagine a sturdy piece of bark or even grass would probably work. In a dire circumstance, you could cut a strip off of a bandana or a pair of jeans to use as a wick.

Step 4: Light the Lamp

Next put the wick in the rock and place the sap around the wick leaving just enough of the wick exposed to light. I used a ferro rod to light the moss this time.

The wick will begin to burn and heat up the sap. It eventually will make a dark pool of sap at the bottom of the rock. It will burn as long as you keep feeding it sap. This one handful burned for over half and hour! Not too shabby.

Once the sap begins to melt it will run all over the place. That's why I recommend a good deep rock. In this case it ended up pouring out the side. Once it cools you can just throw those pieces of sap back into the lamp.

It puts off heat and fair amount of light but I wouldn't recommend cooking over it. The smoke that comes off is thick and black. If you were roasting meat over this flame it would certainly take on a very unpleasant and probably unhealthy flavor. If you were to use a pot it would be blackened something fierce. But for a makeshift light and heat source, it works quite well.

This would also make an excellent base for a campfire if you are having a hard time getting a fire going in damp conditions (another Pacific Northwest specialty). Sap is by nature waterproof. If you don't believe me just try to wash sap off your hands with only water. If you can find a good pile and get it lit, it will give you a nice burn to get other, more stubborn kindling blazing.

I would love to hear about your favorite uses for pine sap.




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    12 Discussions

    I will have to give this a try. Living in Florida we have plenty of Pine trees for sap and Spanish Moss for wicks..just not very many rocks, LoL.

    2 replies

    ha plenty of places in the world where there are no hollow logs, almost no places in the world where there are no empty soda or beer cans rolling about ...

    they have nice concave bases just right for a small lamp light ...

    Ha! That may make it a bit more difficult. I suppose you could make a hole in the ground to hold the sap. It's not quite portable that way... Maybe you could look at ebay. See if you could order in a rock or two for the occasion :)

    Not that any of us ever expect to be out in the wilderness in an emergency situation, but this is great to know. What would you recommend to strike a spark to get the fire going in an "emergency" situatioj?

    This is great! After all my time in the woods, I was never taught this. Definitely a fact to pass on for survival scouting/camping.

    My buddy did this the other day and it worked like a champ. Thanks again!

    Yes, electrobank-hp. Sap, resin, pitch, pine tar. Lots of words for the same stuff. The sticky stuff that oozes out of pine trees.

    Cristoph, that's somethig I'd like to try. From this experience I learned that the sap gets very runny when it's hot. I wonder if it would be a problem... Maybe I'll write another entry after I try : )

    Put some cloth on the end of a stick and coat it in the hot/melted sap to make a torch

    Very interesting! I had no idea you could do this. So cool.