In native traditions, it is believed that the spirit of the animal and the tree of which the drum is made both live on in the drum, making the drum itself a living thing. These traditional beliefs are further validated in practical application. The more you handle and play your drum, the more your natural body oils penetrate the hide, thus enriching it and lengthening its life.
The folks at Sweet Medicine Drums have the following recommendations for caring for your drum:
- Sweet Medicine Drums are very easy to care for, but there are some considerations that will help your drum to maintain supple skin and tone. Keep in mind that rawhide is a natural, living material and is therefore susceptible to changes in temperature and humidity. Drums should be oiled every few months with either neatsfoot oil, olive oil, or other leather conditioners to prevent cracking.
- IN THE CAR: Never leave your drum in direct sunlight!!! Find a shady spot in the car and cover drum. If you live in a hot dry climate it's best not to leave your drum in the car even for a short time.
- IN THE HOUSE: Do not store your drum near a heater, stove, fireplace, or in a location with direct sunlight.
- IN A SWEAT LODGE: It is risky to take your drum into a sweat lodge. Extreme moisture causes the hide to loosen and the wood of the frame drums may warp causing irreparable damage. However, it has been said that some folks take them in for a brief time without problems. Do so at your own risk.
- AROUND CAMPFIRES: Heat from a fire will quickly cause the hide to tighten and the tone to rise. Be mindful. Prolonged exposure will cause the hide to crack or explode.
- ON THE WALL: When hanging your drum on a wall, choose a spot away from forced air heating vents, heaters and fireplaces. Extreme heat causes natural oils to evaporate and may cause the hide to crack.
- ON A TRIP: A plastic bag could protect your drum when you travel. A limited supply of padded drum carrying bags (with adjustable shoulder straps) are currently available.