The Natural Pine Pitch Scented Candle
Pine Pitch Candle
Pine trees exude a sap resin called ‘pitch.’ This sticky, flammable substance can be collected by the enterprising wilderness fan and nature lover and melted into liquid and made into an outdoor candle.
Using a candle wick (available from hobby stores that sell candle-making equipment) one can gather pine pitch and pour their own pine candles. Using a discarded 8-ounce yogurt cup, pierce a small hole through the bottom of the cup. Insert the wick through this hole and tie a knot on the outside, about one-half inch from the end. Pull it so that the now is secure to the bottom of the cup.
Now, invert the cup right-side up. We are ready to pour the pine pitch.
Melting Pine Pitch for Candles
With enough gathered pine pitch, gently melt the pitch in a small saucepan over a low heat until just pourable. Do not overheat. Pick-out any detritus such as pine needles, bark and trapped insects that you may discover floating or laying on the bottom of the warming pot. You probably would want to use an old pot that is not used for cooking as this will likely make a sticky mess that is difficult to clean out.
Fill each of the prepared yogurt cups with liquid pitch to about one-quarter inch to the top. Taking the free end of the candle wick, secure it with a split Popsicle stick and roll it down to the top of the yogurt cup. Tape it in place if necessary so that the wick is vertically-aligned and centered in the cup. The Popsicle stick must remain in place until the pine pitch hardens. Once the pitch has hardened, the wick can be snipped off about 1/4 inch from the candle's surface.
Pine Pitch Burns Like Candle Wax
A pine pitch candle will burn like just like a wax candle does although for this preparation I might recommend that the pine pitch candle only be used outdoors such as at a backyard barbecue or on a patio setting and on a flame-proof saucer or pan. It is after all, pine pitch.
With the beautiful odor of pine, there might be some mild objectionable black smoke involved with this candle made from unrefined tree sap.
Remember that the yogurt cup being plastic will burn if it gets hot enough, so this candle must be monitored during use.
Once cooled and solidified, you might try to peel or cut the plastic yogurt cup away from the hardened pine pitch candle although the pitch might still be slightly sticky. Even if the exterior of the candle feels firm, the interior might remain semi-liquid for days or weeks until fully cured.
The longer the pitch candle ages the harder (and less sticky) the pitch becomes, just like on the pine tree. The fresher the pitch, the stickier it will be.
If allowed to age sufficiently it will actually become slightly brittle. It will still melt and burn as a candle.
Advantage of the yogurt cup is the fact that the lid can be secured to preserve the candle until ready to use (such as in a survival kit, etc.) Smaller and more portable pine-pitch candles could be made using a 35mm camera film case, a small metal box or other such container. Again, the lid to these containers which can be used to seal the candle when not in use is a bonus.
Pine Pitch-Scented Candles and Paraffin
One might even experiment with using pine pitch and paraffin wax to make a scented candle that is harder (and not sticky) using just a small percentage of gathered pine pitch blended in, just for the scent. Then, the plastic yogurt cup could be peeled away to reveal a firmer and non-sticky candle that might be perfect for occasional use indoors. I can just imagine how wondrous this pine pitch candle would smell. It might smell like being in a deep pine forest!
I am eager to try these methods and other variations later this summer.