Balsam fir gum is harvested using a handmade tool called a "pickway" ("Picoué" in French). There are several different models, but all have either one upright outward-pointing tooth or a series of smaller teeth.

As a rule, Pickways are :
  • Easy and cheap to make.

  • Rather long and narrow, so that they can be easily gripped in the hand without excessive fatigue when used for long periods. The height (length) of the Pickway depends on a compromise between the need to reach more elevated blisters and the ability to harvest between the branches.

  • Light, with as much holding capacity as possible.

  • On some models, the lid is partly closed to prevent loss or spills. The lid also prevents foreign material from falling into the Pickway.

Harvesters from Sayabec in the Matapédia Valley have created a new type of Pickway using a 500 ml plastic water bottle as a reservoir. A tube is fitted tightly into the neck of the bottle. When the bottle is full, a new bottle can be attached to the Pickway. There are a number of advantages to this method :

  • No need to decant in the forest, therefore less loss of time and no loss of product.

  • The harvester can see the progress of his harvest in the bottle.

We adopted and improved on this idea so that we could market a Pickway for our harvesters who might like to be able to purchase one rather than make one.

Our Pickway is better because :

  • It is made from a sheet of stainless steel.

  • The opening at the top has many tiny, very sharp teeth and a wider opening that makes it better adapted to larger resin blisters.

  • The opening at the bottom has been adapted so that it can be tightly fitted into a water bottle.

Very Important : no matter what model of Pickway you choose to make, you must NEVER use aluminium or copper as a material, because Balsam fir gum oxidizes on contact with both of these substances. The resin harvested would be darker, it would lose its desirable characteristics, and it would no longer be marketable.

Unless he is using a Pickway with interchangeable bottles like the one described above under PICOUÉ / PICKWAY, the harvester will need a plastic bottle, preferably with a fairly wide opening, that he could wear on his belt or in a backpack so that he can empty his Pickway into it as necessary during the day.

Gloves must be used so that the hands do not become sticky. These gloves must be clean and used only for harvesting resin. We recommend disposable latex gloves.

Used to protect the eyes from branches while walking in the forest and from squirting resin when blisters are pierced.

It is absolutely necessary to be able to find one's way in the forest, as harvesting balsam fir gum requires that the harvester move from tree to tree and that he cover a considerable territory over the course of his day. It would be very easy to get lost.

If the harvester didn't use gloves for harvesting gum, he would have to wash his hands every time he used insect repellent. Insect repellent must never come into contact with the harvested resin.

The gum must be poured into clean, dry 2-litre transparent plastic bottles: clear pop bottles or juice containers (square) are perfect. Gomme de sapin Robin St-Gelais will not accept product delivered in any other type of container.

Important Note : Only containers used for edible products may be used for balsam fir gum.

The bottles must not be filled right to the top. You must leave a 2 cm gap under the cap to allow for expansion of the resin when the temperature rises.

In order for the product to retain its essential properties, containers of resin must be kept closed and in a cool, dark place. They can easily be kept for several years in a basement.