Pitch, as it is infamously known on the trail, can cause lots of problems for hikers and campers. Pitch is an ultra-sticky form of tree sap or resin. Pitch is a social term for the sticky material.
Take a seat off the side of the trail during a hike, pitch your tent under some nice looking pine trees, reach out to touch a tree at the wrong time, and you may find yourself a victim of pitch. It’s often stickier than imaginable, and will quickly become covered with dirt, pine needles, etc.
Attempting to remove pitch can be an exercise in frustration. It sticks to anything and everything and will spread itself more as you attempt to wipe it away. Luckily, to the best of my knowledge, it is not truly harmful in any way – just troublesome.
On a recent hike we both ended up with pitch all over ourselves after stopping for lunch. We used a handful of snow to scrape off what we could, then cleaned our pants thoroughly upon arriving back home.
While on the trail it is best to use anything you can to create a barrier between your hands and the pitch. We’ve used snow and sticks before, but you can only do so much before you get off the trail.
91% isopropyl alcohol has been what we’ve discovered to remove pitch the best. Spray it, douse it, just get it between the pitch and your pants, tent or hands and you’ll be cleaned up in no time.
The one benefit to pitch: it can be used as a fire starter. Collect pitch on a stick, toss it in with your kindling and watch your fire grow.
While out in the woods, keep an eye out for pitch. Watch the trees around your campsite, and check the ground before you take a seat. Stock a bottle of 91% isopropyl alcohol at home to clean up what may happen. Happy trails!