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The use of tar and its production process through the use of kilns
Tar is a thick resinous substance which flows through the trunks of pines and other coniferous trees when they are injured. In the old days, pine tar was a valuable material used industry and pharmaceutics. It was used for wound treatment of humans, animals and trees. It was also used for tarring pottery so that liquid products could be stored inside them. Many times, in order to increase the production of milk, shepherds would cover the udders of their animals with tar to prevent the nursing of newborns.
The tar was produced in stone made kilns, which were abandoned after the completion of the work. The kilns were constructed in the ground and consisted of two pits, one higher and larger than the other. There was a channel at the base of that pit leading, slightly inclined, to the smaller pit so called “katalatsi”.
The process of producing tar from kilns was:
Small pieces of resinous heartwood were stacked vertically in layers until the pit was filled. The wood pieces were approximately 30cm long and 5-10cm wide. After filling the kiln with wood, it was covered with ferns, moss and mud, leaving a small opening on the top, from where the kiln was lighted.
The filling was lighted from top to bottom until all the wood in the kiln was burned.
During the burning of the wood, the pitch, (liquid raw tar) was flowing from the larger to the smaller pit, “katalatsi”. The pitch was lighted by the craftsman, until it was converted into tar. The craftsman, called “pissas”, understood when the tar was ready by its taste and afterwards, the fire was smothered by the use of green branches. After its conversion, the tar was moved from the small pit to smaller wooden molds in order to be solidified into the desirable form.


 January 2021


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