Related to this quetsion Tree tapping in the UK - Time and legalities. I have never tapped a tree.

How do you do this? What equipment is involved, etc?

  • 1
    Why do you want sap? If you want syrup it takes 40 parts sap to make one part syrup. It has to be boiled to remove water and leave the sugar behind. Just putting the sap on your pancakes would be unrewarding. Commented Oct 7, 2016 at 13:25
  • I did not know this @JamesJenkins. It was more a follow on from the linked question
    – user2766
    Commented Oct 7, 2016 at 13:36
  • I've only seen trees from which people gathered resin. Never knew that people also were after tree sap. Commented Oct 7, 2016 at 14:15

2 Answers 2


Sugar Maple trees are by far the most popular trees that people tap for sap. So I will use this as my example of how to tap a tree. The following is taken from: Common Sense Homesteading.

Identify Maple Trees and Wait for the Right Temperature Range.

There are many species of maple trees. The sap gathered from all of them can be boiled down into syrup. Read more about Maple Tree Identification.

Most syrup is produced in the northern states, but can be made as far south as Tennessee. The temperature must drop below freezing at night and rise above during the day for the sap to run. Trees should have at least a twelve inch diameter before being tapped. When the maple trees start budding, sugaring is over, as the sap produces bitter syrup.

Gather Your Syrup Making Equipment.

Traditional maple syrup making equipment includes sap spouts, buckets, and covers; which are available in hardware stores, from maple sugaring equipment suppliers, or used from other sugarmakers. To tap the trees you will need a drill and bit, and a hammer. The minimum that a backyard sugarmaker must do is to drill the taphole and tap in the spout.

To collect the sap: Milk jugs or even plastic bags can be hung on the spout; or plastic, food-grade tubing can be connected to the spout and the sap run into a bucket or collecting tank on the ground.

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Using a cordless drill to tap maple trees.

Tap the Trees.

Tap the trees in the early spring, as daytime temperatures rise above freezing. Drill a hole the size of your spout, at a slight incline. (Note angle above.) Tap the spout into the hole firmly, hang the bucket, and put the cover on to keep out rain and bugs. This is the magic moment, as the first drop of clear, sweet sap runs off the spout – often onto an eagerly waiting tongue!

Gather the Sap.

Sap is perishable, and should be gathered and boiled daily, or kept cold in a storage container until boiling. Filter the sap to remove any impurities.

For more Information on this subject please see the following site: How to Make Maple Syrup

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    Please note that sugar maple is only native to north America, in Europe i know we tap birch and sycamore
    – Chris J
    Commented Oct 7, 2016 at 13:42

There are a few ways to tap a tree, before you tap you need to know when the sap is rising from the roots to the branches.

I have read about

  • use a knife to make a shallow cut under the bark, then using a twig to guide the flow into a positioned bottled
  • using a drill bit to achieve the same effect

The blade/drill should only penetrate to the layer where the bark meets the inner wood as this is where the sap is being transported.

There is also talk of using muslin cloth to filter before going into your container but that seems to be a small minority of people.

After you have collected the sap you want, bearing in mind not to take too much that you cause damage to the tree. You then remove your twig/tap from the tree and press the bark back down to form a seal. A lot of people suggest that the use of local cordage (ivy, brambles, etc) to hold it in place is a good idea as the pressure from the sap may force the bark open again.

Previous advice included blocking the hole or covering with mud, however, this is now thought to introduce foreign material to the tree causing it further damage. The tree cut should be closed with it's own bark and then the bark should be left exposed to the air.

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    I didn't vote either way on this answer, but this sentence "bearing in mind not to take too much that you cause damage to the tree" indicates the answer is based on little to no real knowledge. A good drain can not take to much sap. Durring Maple syrup season sap is drained 24/7 until the end of the season. Commented Oct 7, 2016 at 13:22
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    I also have not voted, but concur with James. The primary way that one would damage the tree would not be in taking too much sap, but rather in cutting too large of a tap line. Trees can be killed by cutting through too much bark around the tree. Trees aren't people. It's not like they have X quarts of "blood" after which they run out. Commented Oct 7, 2016 at 13:37
  • @RussellSteen Trees do have a limited amount of sap, though. It's just that, as with humans and blood, they replenish it (but unlike humans, trees won't complain about having to walk around with a needle attached to slowly draw an equivalent amount of blood over a longer period of time).
    – JAB
    Commented Oct 7, 2016 at 19:49
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    @JAB -- Yes, everything is finite. But, in the context of the question asked, it is beyond extremely unlikely that a hiker would drain enough sap to kill a tree. Commented Oct 7, 2016 at 20:34

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