Looking For Information On Distilling Birch


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Nov 21, 2019
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I cut anywhere from 12-18 face cords of Birch (white) every year. Last year I started stripping the bark and dry distilling it to extract the oil which I refine down further into tar and sometimes pitch. This is done by destructive distill. The bark I cut in 6 inch wide strips and roll very tight into a pack that I can squeeze into a paint can.

I put a whole in the bottom and top, 1" on bottom and top just a hole with a nail to allow vapors to escape. I bury a smaller can set the bigger can on top, fill in with dirt and build a hot fire around it, 1.5-2 hour later it is done. I use the tar for waterproofing boots and all leather stuff, it is by far the best leather treatment and waterproofer I have ever used. Also use it for treating wood on gunstocks and knives and the pitch as a glue for knife handles.

I have a surplus of bark though and Birch essential oil seems to be popular for various things such as soap, I have a local soap company here that will buy direct from me if I have Birch essential oil.

Anybody here familiar with doing this or know somebody that is? In the spring you also have a few weeks where the buds of the trees can be distilled a lighter type of oil. I would like to have something setup for this spring is possible. I would rather utilize the tree completely rather than waste parts.

The tar oil which I get from the bark I have heard can be steam distilled to an essential oil, but there seems to be mixed information on this.

Any help or information much appreciated!

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