Birch Distillation

Pass me another [Birch] Beer!

Maintaining a steady heat under the still is thirsty work! Thanks, Skip!

 

 

The fires roar from Friday night to Sunday to keep the water around the birch trimmings hot. The oil is carried through condensation and collected in a reservoir. Learn more at Bark Peelers’ Festival!

 

Thank you to Skip Cavanaugh and Sam Cooke for demonstrating the museum’s birch still!

Sam (a retired forester) and Skip (a pastor whose father ran birch stills in Tioga County) work diligently over the weekend of the festival to keep our still fires burning. Over a 48-hour run, the still will produce roughly a quart of birch oil, commonly known as “spirits of wintergreen.” The oil occurs naturally in the bark of the black birch tree and was used historically as a flavoring and topical pain reliever. Many thanks to Sam and Skip for helping to educate folks about this traditional forest industry!