Matty Bottles

Smell Like a Pirate

44 posts in this topic

Inspired by a thread on this forum several years ago and a few close encounters with Maddogge at this year's Pike River, I thought I should try to capture the smell of a pirate, as close as possible. I did this for a few reasons:

1) I hate the smell of bug spray. Bug spray and campfire smoke together smell so chemically and nasty that it just takes me right out of period. Maybe I can make myself stink so much that the bugs will leave me alone!

2) I tend to stink after a few days in the sun and no shower anyway, so I might as well stink as historically accurate as possible.

After Pike River, I balled up all my clothes and threw them into a tupperware container without washing them. HEck, I didn't even dry them! Then I poured a few dollops of rum in there after them and shook them up good. Then I poured a shot of jaegermaeister because I was worried the rum smell would fade too much. Then I took a handle of tea bags, about a dozen or so, and threw them in there too, and shut it up tight.

Then after a few days they still mostly smelled rummy. So I took them out and used them to clean my pistols. And then I went to the Farm'n'Fleet and bought a can of pine tar, because if Sailors smelled of anything, it was pine tar. I scraped some onto a sponge, and then stuck another sponge to it, and placed it in the container with my clothes. That way the smell would permeate without the tar actually sticking to any of the clothes, because this stuff is tacky as heck and I would be in serious danger of ruining my clothes. Not because of stains on my outfit, but because of transference to other people's outfits with sword fights and whatnot. Seriously, this stuff is STICKY.

And let me tell you something: Pine tar smells awful. Apparently it is made as a treatment for horse hooves. Horses don't mind the smell, which isn't surprising, because it smells like something a horse would make, if you get my drift. Seriously, this stuff is nasty. No wonder sailors smoked so much.

So after old campfire smoke, rum, jaeger, tea leaves, gun oil and black powder residue, the pine tar makes me think I might have ruined my clothes. I wonder if tobacco leaf might salvage it. I will try that next.

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How very admirable. (From afar, that is.) I think hanging around a campfire for a day or two is probably close enough for most of the public, myself. (More than enough. Way more than enough.) ;)

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Yeah, pine tar was going too far, I think. It smells like a rotting vegetable fat. It smells the way Vegemite would if it were the corpse of a once living animal. But now I have a quart of the stuff, and I actually might try some waterproofing/tarring experiments, to see how it works out.

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Matty -

You overlooked one of the most important and key ingredients in this blended nautical perfume... Oak.

Barbeque wood chips will do. :unsure:

Jas. Hook ;)

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Oak is a great suggestion. I'll have to try that one. The one that gets me is fresh hemp rope. It smells like...well...you have to smell it. Old cow chips, maybe? It definitely has a barn smell, but the earthy quality of most hemp, linen and wool is enough to give you an authentic smell, but you can add several other period smells to the mix. Beeswax from candles. Coal from the cook's stove (and as a very common fuel for heating in London and elsewhere). Vinegar from the stores. Aromatics proscribed by doctors as healing smells, such as essence of rose, aloe, etc.

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You could wrap yourself in oakum before an event. Besides smelling shippy, it sounds funny. Oakum...oakum...oakum. Plus I don't think it smells as bad as regular old pine tar. (I don't know why, but it doesn't.)

Gollum...gollum.

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Matty -

You overlooked one of the most important and key ingredients in this blended nautical perfume... Oak.

Barbeque wood chips will do. :unsure:

Jas. Hook ;)

Ah, OAK! I love it. Thanks, Mister Hook. I will add that to my list.

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Between Gun powder, and this product..many stand back an extra foot from me..

http://www.tarsmell.com/specials.html

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Oak is a great suggestion. I'll have to try that one. The one that gets me is fresh hemp rope. It smells like...well...you have to smell it. Old cow chips, maybe? It definitely has a barn smell, but the earthy quality of most hemp, linen and wool is enough to give you an authentic smell, but you can add several other period smells to the mix. Beeswax from candles. Coal from the cook's stove (and as a very common fuel for heating in London and elsewhere). Vinegar from the stores. Aromatics proscribed by doctors as healing smells, such as essence of rose, aloe, etc.

Here in Wisconsin, old cow chips are easier to find than hemp rope, although we can get manila rope from the hardware store, and hemp flowers in any affordable housing apartment building. :rolleyes:

Twelve-pound and I are considering checking out Fort de Chartres some time. He has an uncle in St. Louis anyway. If I'm ever down that way, William, I'll bring you some pine tar. And heck, Bo, too, if you're reading this, (although you might already have a horse, I think? I can't remember.) l have all I'll ever need, so I can spare some.

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Between Gun powder, and this product..many stand back an extra foot from me..

http://www.tarsmell.com/specials.html

I might check that out - it honestly could NOT be worse than pine tar hoof treatment. I bought some "dirt" scented soap at Reenactorfest last year, although it's really more loam scented. It is actually quite fresh and pleasant smelling. I've been flirting with Viking for a while and have been considering daubing my wraps with theolive oil my sardines are packaged in, but I can't yet bring myself to do it. Perhaps just a nose gay of fishyness in a linen bag around my neck?

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You could wrap yourself in oakum before an event. Besides smelling shippy, it sounds funny. Oakum...oakum...oakum. Plus I don't think it smells as bad as regular old pine tar. (I don't know why, but it doesn't.)

Gollum...gollum.

Is this the jute oakum available nowadays, or something else?

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You're asking the wrong person. I have seen and smelled it on sailing ships, but have never even thought to purchase it.

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Twelve-pound and I are considering checking out Fort de Chartres some time. He has an uncle in St. Louis anyway. If I'm ever down that way, William, I'll bring you some pine tar. And heck, Bo, too, if you're reading this, (although you might already have a horse, I think? I can't remember.) l have all I'll ever need, so I can spare some.

You really should attend. We have a very good group of lads and ladies in the camp, and that extends to many a reenactor outside the Mercury in attendance. Besides, it's hot. You'll smell at Fort De Chartres no matter what your preparations.

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Similar yet different experiment I just tried. I washed all my clothes in a period fashion. Taking a strainer and placing rocks, then pine straw, then fire ashes on top of that. Run water through the layers and now you have your wash water. I washed everything I own through it. They came out great!! My woolen jacket looks fairly amazing. The linens look nearly new.

Now I'm curious to what kinda of pine tar your using Matty. The stuff I have smells like bacon grease. I actually don't mind it. I bought mine at a tar store online. http://www.tarsmell.com/products.html I got the Authentic Stockholm Tar.

Not sure if it's the same stuff as what you got. Anyways I brush the pine tar on a small board let it dry, and place that into a bin with my clothes. I think I'll grab some oak chips to throw in there also.

I like what you tired there Matty!

Edited by Jack Roberts

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Pine Tar might actually help with the bug problem though.

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You forgot a healthy dose of sunshine and fresh air, and salt spray :-)

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Similar yet different experiment I just tried. I washed all my clothes in a period fashion. Taking a strainer and placing rocks, then pine straw, then fire ashes on top of that. Run water through the layers and now you have your wash water. I washed everything I own through it. They came out great!! My woolen jacket looks fairly amazing. The linens look nearly new.

Now I'm curious to what kinda of pine tar your using Matty. The stuff I have smells like bacon grease. I actually don't mind it. I bought mine at a tar store online. http://www.tarsmell.com/products.html I got the Authentic Stockholm Tar.

Not sure if it's the same stuff as what you got. Anyways I brush the pine tar on a small board let it dry, and place that into a bin with my clothes. I think I'll grab some oak chips to throw in there also.

I like what you tired there Matty!

Bacon fat would be a delightful alternative to rancid Vegemite fart. I bought Horse Health Pine Tar, which is used to prevent hoof relayed diseases such as thrush, I believe. I think it's pure pine tar, but I can't verify that. Maybe I need it to dry and the smell will improve? I'm not sure.

I love the dishwater recipe, but what is pine straw? Just the dried out needles?

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Yep, you can use regular straw if available. I just had access to the pine needles. It's supposedly helps turn the ash into a high alkaline solution which helps to remove dirts.

Yeah I think the tar you got is something different than what I was able to procure. I just bought a pint of it for "flavoring" clothes.

Edited by Jack Roberts

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i feel the need to correct a mistake...the pine tar that you buy in vet/feed places for hooves is not a sailors tar.thats why it smells so horrid.you need to order the tar that master roberts was speaking of earlier.as the tar for horses is a light tar with some kind of chemical added.true pine tar is DARK and smells like fire/bbq/bacon/smoke.if youve ever been around me i smell of tar linseed oil hemp and wood.also i need to try your washing method master roberts sounds great...usually i just smoke mine over a fire.

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What constitutes a "light" tar? This stuff is pretty dark, but not black. There are similar horse treatments out there that ARE 100% Pure Stockholm pine tar, and this one is pine tar, I just can't verify that this one is ONLY pine tar. But it doesn't list any other ingredients.

Actually, we can solve this - instead of describing the smell, I'll just post it here.

CH3-C6H9-(OH)-C3H5

Now just scratch your monitor and sniff it. You should be able to tell me if it's the same scent or not.

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not it mate, you want CH3-C6H9(OH)-C3H4. kidding no idea of the chemical formula. Without looking specifically at Matty Bottle's bottle of hoof goo, I would venture to say from past events with pine tar- the difference in smell is vitamins added to the horse stuff to make it FDA'able. I have also found the horse goo to be thinned to absorb into the cracks of the hoof. It has also been modified in its manufacturing to be less caustic if ingested by an animal. true pine tar will kill ya.

edit* both are true pine tars- the mariners pine tar will kill ya quicker than the horse stuff though. after all the horse stuff is vitamin fortified. in short, both tars will proof your gear but if you are going to be aboard ship use the stockholm.

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If you have any pine trees in your area of travel, why not just harvest some of your own? Many pine trees in my part of the world (upstate NY USA) drip the stuff, it's a pain to get off of your car finish. But where there are breaks, or cut limbs, it sometimes builds up in great quantity, you can often cut off a chunk the size of a golf ball, gather a few chunks, (doesen't matter if there are clips of bark, or other stuff) put it in an old sauce pot you (or your wife) don't want anymore and heat it up over the outdoor bbq grill. (Don't, I repeat, don't do it on the stove indoors) Anyway, gentle heat and the chunks will melt, heat it enough to pour through some kind of strainer you don't want for food anymore and gather it together in some kind of container. Let it cool, it will smell just like pine tar with a hint of turpentine, because that is what it is. :rolleyes: anyway, the batch I made smelled great. Wrap it in some brown paper, then in cloth and stick it in with your gear.

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Yep, you can use regular straw if available. I just had access to the pine needles. It's supposedly helps turn the ash into a high alkaline solution which helps to remove dirts.

Part of the process for making lye-water for washing, or to make soap, is to put a thick layer of straw/leaves/pine straw in a barrel that has a hole (or holes) in the bottom. Put your (hardwood) ash from the cooking fires into the barrel, and pour water in (or let it rain into the barrel). Catch the water in another non-reactive container (like a half barrel). When it is of sufficient strength to float an egg, you can use it for making soap. Or it can be used as-is. Adding fat of some sort makes soap (olive oil, beef tallow, what have you). There's more to the process but I won't go into that here, there are plenty of books on it out there.

IIRC that the layer of plant material serves as a sort of filter. Pine straw sounds like an interesting twist, and there must be someone who has written on how it impacted period laundry. Travelers did note that the linens in the south tended to be less white than in the north, perhaps this could be why? I had always thought it was something to do with the water quality of southern coastal areas.

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master halfshell isnt the stuff you are reffering to pine pitch it was my understanding that tar was "baked" uot of the pine in large underground kilns. especially down in the carolinas which is where the name tarheel comes from.

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Thanks for the help, everybody. I think I'm going to get some tar from the site Odorless Eye and Jack Roberts posted. That way I can treat my ropes, too, and maybe even tar a smock for water proofing with having to worry about seizing or gagging from the smell.

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