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How to Tap a Silver Birch Tree For Water

In this post, we will show you how to tap a Silver Birch tree for water in just 4 easy steps. Bitola alba (white birch), Betula pendula (silver birch), Betula lenta, Betula papyrifera, and Betula fontinalis are all species of the Birch tree family suitable for sap extraction. But firstly, its important to remember that the annual window for doing this is very short – it is only possible to tap a Silver Birch Tree for water during the first two weeks of March. This is when the sap rising from the ground within the trunk of the Silver Birch is most intense, in readiness for going into leaf later on in the Spring season. After this, the birch water becomes biter.

You will need –

  1. Demijohn bottles (or any plastic bottle will do)
  2. String
  3. Hammer
  4. Drill
  5. Plastic pipe cut into small lengths to use as a tap. (A twig will do if you don’t have this, as the sap will flow nicely along the surface)

equipment needed to tap a silver birch tree for water

First up – You need to select your Birch tree! Always choose a tree with a trunk wider than 9-10 inches.

tapping for silver birch water

Finding suitable silver birch trees to tap from

Once you’ve settled on your Birch tree, pick a spot approximately 3ft above soil level, and drill a hole about 1-2 inches deep into the trunk of your Silver Birch.

Drilling for silver birch water

Then, the fun bit: You just watch and wait for the sap to begin to flow. This can sometimes present with a slow ‘drip-drip’ effect, or more of a steady trickle.

Next, place the tap (plastic pipe or twig) into the hole:

Tapping for silver birch water

And with you demijohn or bottle tied around the tree with string, you can then line the bottle up underneath to collect the water.

And for a moment, you just watch and wait …

tapping for silver birch water

until …

using a demijohn for tapping for collecting silver birch water

… Bingo! (Trust me, this part really is mega exciting!)

Now then, how long you then choose to leave your bottles to collect the water is entirely up to you, and of course it depends on the size of your bottles. Chris will leave these demijohns in place for a couple of days, but smaller containers may only need to be left for as little as a few hours to fill. Ideally, you should be able to pop back to the tree regularly to monitor its progress. Some trees deliver a lot, and some not-so-much. You never quite know until you do it.


When you’re finished collecting the water, YOU MUST CLOSE THE HOLE BACK UP. Otherwise, the Birch could literally bleed to death, which would obviously be both awful and irresponsible in equal measures! So for this, Chris recommends using a size appropriate piece of Hazel, to literally ‘plug’ the hole back up. It is then imperative that you pop back a few days later to check that the plug is doing a sufficient job, and that no sap is continuing to leek. If it is, just adjust accordingly.

What should you do with your harvested Birch water?

You can consume birch water fresh from the tree, and in-fact whilst its consumption is a relatively new concept here in the UK, other countries within the northern hemisphere have long been enjoying its health benefits for centuries.

After a couple of days though, the Birch water will begin to ferment and taste really bitter. Cue – Birch Water Wine. And so with this in mind, and if you are interested in elevating your water to a more boozy (and cheek-warming) level, then we will share everything with you need to know to turn your harvested sap into delicious wine – Tree wine, guys. ..Wine from a tree! (having tried a glass of it myself last week, I can tell you that it is absolutely gorgeous and well worth the effort and wait. And it does indeed warm your cheeks!) Step-by-step instructions for doing this at home are coming to the blog next week.


Thank you so much for reading, please share with your friends and like our Facebook page for lots more helpful hints and tips for enjoying the great outdoors, together with general Tree surgery and seasonal gardening tips.

And don’t forget, if you live in the Kent area and have any growing concerns at all, including all Tree surgery procedures, Hedge Cutting, general Landscaping or gardening help, please call Chris on 07732 527588 or email myself at [email protected]

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Photo of author

Anna Fraser