Violin rosin is an ingenious gum that performers use to treat the horsehair bows that entice beautiful sounds from gut strings. Rosin is a necessity in every violin case, and serious performers always keep their favorite brand or blend on hand. Because the basis for violin rosin is usually pine resins or a blend of saps from other conifers, it’s easy to make your own.
Step 1 - Obtaining Resin
If you don’t want to spend the time tapping a tree, you can check the internet for companies that sell raw pine resin. The clearer the grade of resin, the more expensive it will be. To harvest your own resin, continue with the directions below.
Tapping a Tree
First, you must harvest the pine resin to make your violin rosin. Use a hatchet to cut away about 10 inches of bark across the trunk of a mature pine tree about 3 feet above the ground.
Collecting the Resin
Next, attach a metal container to the area to catch the resin. Cut a V-shaped notch in the tree slightly higher than the container to help direct the sap flow toward the collector. Press the container tightly to the sapwood. The resin should begin flowing within a day. Freshen the cut in the tree every 4-5 days to keep the resin flowing.
Step 2 - Distilling the Turpentine
Raw resin is a sticky solid that must be distilled to recover the pure rosin from the substance. To distill the turpentine, place the raw resin in a stainless-steel pan and heat it up with propane to the boiling point. Use caution when handling propane. Continue heating the substance as the turpentine burns away. The rosin will remain after the turpentine has vaporized at temperatures up to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. The rosin will harden as it cools.
Step 3 - Processing the Rosin
Violin rosin is the product of pine rosin combined with other resins, waxes, and other ingredients. Different rosin makers use different recipes, and some makers keep their ingredients secret. However, you can simply melt the pure rosin from the distilling process, and combine it with beeswax, which is sold by many vendors.
Adding Metal and Allowing to Cool
Keep in mind that resin collected in the spring and fall will generally produce a darker, softer substance. Add metal flecks to the mixture to add an abrasive texture. Mix well, and pour the rosin into a wooden mold. Allow it to cool, and your homemade violin rosin is ready to use.
To keep your violin in top shape, consider making your own case to house your special instrument.