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How to extract syrup from a maple tree with an auger bit

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Process of maple sap being boiled to create maple syrup Maple syrup is made by boiling sap drained from field maple trees. As part of the process to extract sap, a hole must be drilled into the trunk of the tree.
A DIYer using an auger bit to make a hole in a maple tree to collect sap to boil into syrup While it is possible to use any wood bit for the job, auger bits are ideal, as they allow you to make a deeper borehole with less likelihood of the bit getting jammed.
Image of a birch tree, which can be tapped for syrup using an auger bit and spile Maple trees are most common in the United States and Canada, although there are maple trees in the UK. More common, though, are birch trees, which can also be tapped for syrup in the same way. Birch syrup can be used for the same purposes as maple syrup.
Wonkee Donkee describes the taste of birch syrup
Image to represent spring, the ideal time to tap for maple syrup The trees are ready to be tapped during the spring. In the south east of England, they will be ready as early as late February, while in Scotland, they are usually ready by early April.
An auger bit and a spile of matching diameter You will need a spile with an auger bit of the same diameter (which should be an 8mm (5/16“) or 11mm (7/16“) bit) and a bucket.
Inserting a spile into a pre-bored hole in a tree A spile is a tapered tube that can be wedged into a tree trunk. As the sap flowing inside the tree reaches the opening of the tube, it runs out through the opening at the wide end. This tool has traditionally been used by survivalists to use trees as a source of drinking water.
Diagram showing a viable drilling location in a maple tree that will allow a spile to be hammered into the trunk so that maple syrup can be collected

Step 1 – Select drill hole location

Choose a spot low down on the south or south-east facing side of a maple tree as the location for your bore hole. This is the side of the tree where the sap will flow most freely.

A DIYer boring into the trunk of a maple tree with an auger so that the sap can be collected and boiled to create maple syrup

Step 2 – Bore a hole

Use your auger bit to bore a hole into the tree trunk at a slightly upward angle. This will allow the sap to flow naturally out of the hole.

A spile that has been inserted into a hole drilled into a maple tree by an auger bit so that the sap can be collected

Step 3 – Attach spile

Push your spile into your bore hole, making sure it is secure. Resist the urge to use a hammer if possible, to avoid causing unnecessary damage to the trunk.

A young DIYer hanging a bucket on a spile inserted into a maple tree so that they can collect syrup as it runs out

Step 4 – Allow to drain

Hang your bucket from your spile so that it can catch the sap, and cover it over to prevent it from becoming contaminated.

A pot of boiling maple sap which will reduce down to create maple syrup You can check back at the end of each day to see how much sap you have collected and gather it up in a central reservoir. Once you have collected as much sap as you can, it needs to be boiled down in batches until it reaches a thick, syrupy consistency.
Jars of maple syrup boiled from sap that was collected from holes drilled in maple trees by an auger bit This can be a time-consuming process and you will notice a big reduction in volume as you boil your sap. Ten gallons (45 litres) of sap will reduce to around a quart, or two pints (just over 1 litre) of maple syrup. If you’re tapping a birch tree, you need even more sap – 10 gallons (45 litres) will reduce to just half a pint (250ml) of syrup, so make sure you collect lots!
Maple syrup, which was collected from a hole drilled with an auger bit, being used as a sauce for ice cream Once the condensing process is complete, your syrup can be used in a variety of recipes or as a sauce for fruit or ice cream!