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Pitch question

Hi all. I’ve got a 32 oz. can o’ pitch from rio that I want in 5
parts. I read that to put it in the oven to runny consistency is
poor as it’ll chemically ruin the composition or possibly pop and
burn me. I was thinking I could hit it with a sledge and break it
into nice chunks and proceed that way… see, I’ve been spoiled in
my prior pitch use. Before, some nice person had always broken it up
for me in happy chunks… now out in ‘the real world’… like some
hungry kid staring at a can of soup with no can opener and no mama
;] I’m stymied.

Any suggestions?
My thanks, Angela

The hammer is the way. BUT you may have the worlds most

pitch see :



Hi Angela. Breaking the pitch into smaller chunks will speed up the
process. I have found that the easiest and safest way to soften
pitch is to use a heat gun. Some use a torch, but, there is always a
danger of burning the pitch. Wrap the pitch in several layers of
some heavy cloth and give it some good whacks with a heavy hammer.
Then, put the small pieces in your pitch bowl, a few at a time. Heat
them with the heat gun until they melt and run together. Add some
more chunks, and continue that way.

Hope this helps.

I've got a 32 oz. can o' pitch from rio that I want in 5 parts. 

Hello Angela,

Any sizeable hammer will do the job. Put the pitch inside a couple
plastic grocery bags, tie it up rather loosely but without open holes
and toss the bundle in a burlap sack that you don’t mind trashing a
bit. Drop the lot in your freezer for a couple hours, or out on your
porch if you’re in the snow-zone.

Now take your bundle and your hammer and head out to the driveway for
a little frustration relief. Don’t get too enthusiastic though
because pitch powder isn’t nearly as easy to deal with as pitch
chunks. Any basic scale will help you measure out the parts equally.

Another option, one I use, is a small axe such as a camping hatchet.
Cold pitch and an axe makes short work of such a job. I do this
inside a garbage bag --you’ve got your pitch, the axe and your arms in
the bag-- to keep pitch chips from flying all over the place. I know
it sounds crude but it’s actually not bad at all if you’re good with
an axe. If you really want to get elegant bring along a wood mallet.
Place the axe where you want to make a cut, whack it with the mallet,
voil=E0, nice chucks of pitch. Repeat as required.

As to the heating being a bad thing it’s only doing harm to your
pitch if it’s so hot it is bubbling, or worse yet, smoking. That’s a
no-no for any pitch I’ve seen. A more moderate heat and a longer time
heating gives you warm, flowing pitch without doing it harm. I like a
heat gun on a low setting --surprising how useful heat guns really
are-- but if you like the woodsy smell in your kitchen, and possibly
the next few things you bake in the oven, then I suppose the oven
would do the job too.

When heating pitch I’ve found it best to think of it as a big heat
sponge: it soaks up heat over time but does not like being heated too
fast. In other words take your time. You’ll get there in the end and
your pitch will appreciate the gentler treatment. Over-heated pitch
becomes brittle and unyielding once it’s cooled again and that’s not
very useful for most of the typical things you’d use pitch for.

Trevor F.


My suggestion is to throw away that nasty black pitch (which
contains petroleum products)and order German red pitch from
Allcraft in NY. It will come in an aluminum “breadpan” from which
it is easy to remove and you can break it into chunks with moderate
hammer blows. It can then be placed in the pitch bowl and heated
slowly in a 250 or 300 degree oven. It is far less toxic, easier to
use and yields better results. Another excellent pitch is available
from Northwest Pitchworks in Seattle.

Help others make informed buying decisions with Northwest Chasers
Pitch . We welcome your opinions and experiences with ordering,
customer service and and over all satisfaction.

Write an Anonymous Review


I have used a chisel and hammer to remove old black pitch from a
bowl. I replaced it with the nice stuff from Northwest Pitch Works.

marilyn smith

I have found that a great way to soften pitch is to heat it with
steam ! This does not create fumes and does not risk burning the
pitch on the surface. It takes about 1/2 an hour for the standard
size pitch bowl - as much as 30 minutes longer if I am working with
pitch in a piece of holloware, and I want it soft enough to get it
out of the vessel.

I do it in a huge stainless stock pot (they can be found cheaply at
garage sales, flea markets and restaurant supply stores) used & beat
up is OK. I then put in about 4 inches of water and bring it to a
boil. Then I put a brick in the pot to elevate the pitch bowl above
the water line. - Close the lid and come back 1/2 hour later. - it
is about the consistency of warm , really soft taffy or silly putty.
It is lots less messy, not all hot and drippy. Perfect for setting a
piece into and low risk for warming up the pitch to remove a piece -
especially where stones are concerned.

Although, I do have a steam de-waxer for my casting projects- I
have not used it for this purpose - do not want to risk getting
pitch on the heating elements.


   I have found that  a great  way to soften pitch is to heat it
with steam ! This does not create fumes and does not risk burning
the pitch on the surface. 

Linda - sounds like a great idea. Once the water is boiling and you
elevate your pitch bowl in the pot and close the lid, do you turn
the burner off and just let what steam and heat was in the pot work
its magic or do you continue to heat it for up to 1/2 hour?


Hey…Really! What do you do with pitch? Am aware of using it in
candelabra’s, silverware, etc… what other uses does it have?


Well Jim,

    Hey...Really!  What do you do with pitch? 

Pitch is used for chasing and repousse. I happen to like the red
german pitch. It isn’t brittle and is very forgiving.

Jennifer Friedman
Ventura, CA

Pitch is used to hold and support work in chasing and repouse --see:
and: read about chasing and repousse

hope this helps

Yeah I wish I knew more about pitch before I bought mine. I bought
that terrible black pitch, two cans worth. It does not work too bad,
but only stuff I have worked with so I do not know well from bad.
Reason I say terrible because it is so messy. I have black pitch all
over the place, form the BBQ grille, spots on the patio, ruined a
pair of good welding gloves, on pliers, spoons, spatulas, shoes,
shop floor, tool box, work bench, welding bench, and me. I have been
doing a lot of hollow ware, big pieces so you have to use a lot of
pitch and heating it to get in the pieces and removing from the
pieces is a messy, messy and stinky process.

Warren Townsend

Trenton, MI 48183

Seattle Pitchworks pitch is so much cleaner to use that it would be
worth your time to switch. It can be cleaned off of things with baby