Of all the species of fir to be found in North America, the balsam fir (Abies Balsamea) is the only one that grows in Québec and New Brunswick. What is more, the balsam fir is the only one that produces balsam fir gum.

Balsam fir gum can be harvested between April and November. It is preferable, however, to harvest in warm weather, as the gum will be more liquid.

Balsam fir gum must never be harvested when it is raining or when the tree trunks are wet. Even a very small percentage of water mixed with the balsam fir gum will give it a whitish, milky appearance and destroy its essential properties. It would have less or even no further market value.

A PICOUÉ (or PICKWAY) is used. The teeth of the instrument must be inserted in the resin blister on the trunk of the balsam fir, then pressed down. This pierces the blister and allows the liquid to flow into the collecting bottle. The harvester then uses his thumb to press out all the resin. To ensure the environmental sustainability of the resource, small blisters must not be pierced. It takes from 5 to 7 years for a blister to regenerate.

This process, if properly performed, does not damage the tree in any way. The broken blisters heal rapidly, as any remaining resin crystallizes on contact with the air. It is a good idea to inform the owner of a lot before doing any harvesting.

An experienced harvester can collect between 2 and 4 litres of resin per day.

The harvester must filter the collected resin. For this, disposable filters of the type used for automobile paint can be purchased at 17 cents/each. The gum can be easily filtered at normal room temperature. At lower temperatures, this would be difficult. Fir resin is more viscous at low temperatures, becoming more liquid as the temperature rises. It is possible to immerse the container in a basin of warm water to liquefy the gum(water bath technique). Hot water from the tap is perfectly adequate for this.

To remove fir gum from clothing, apply strong cleaners such as Pinesol, Lestoil or WD-40 spray lubricant, then wash the article as usual.

To clean fir gum from your tools, containers and hands, it is absolutely essential to use only products that are fit for human consumption such as vegetable oil, margarine or butter. These will easily dissolve the fir gum. Then wash with soapy water.

Very Important Note : The harvester must be particularly careful to keep all his containers, pickway, funnel, filter and gloves immaculately clean. Never forget that most of the harvest will be sent to laboratories and used in pharmaceutical or therapeutic applications. Each harvester, as the first link in the production chain, must make sure to offer a high quality product free of any contaminants.