What Are the Benefits of Pine Resin?

What Is Resin?

Resin is a hydrocarbon secreted by many plants, especially coniferous trees. Plants evolved many complex chemicals as defenses against herbivores. That may be the origin of these resins, which are certainly not good to eat.

Humans value them for their chemical constituents and use. They are used in varnishes, adhesives, as raw materials for organic synthesis, or for incense and perfume. Fossilized resins are the source of amber. The term is also used for synthetic substances with similar properties.

Uses for Pine Resin

Pine Sap Salve

Pine trees ooze resin when they get damaged. This resin has antibacterial properties which prevent the damaged tree from getting infected. In this same way, pine resin can also be used to heal our wounds.In addition to being antiseptic, pine sap is also anti-inflammatory and its stickiness helps it close wounds. It apparently also works well for healing eczema.

To make pine pitch salve:
  • Collect some sap from pine trees. 
  • Using a double boiler, heat the sap into a liquid. Do NOT heat the pine sap directly over a flame because it is highly flammable.
  • Strain the heated pine sap through a sieve to get out any dirt or bark.
  • Next, you’ll want to mix the pine sap with olive oil. Again, you do this over a double boiler.
  • The final step is to add some beeswax to make it firm.

Pine Resin Lamp

As mentioned before, pine resin is really flammable.  This makes it great for making primitive lamps. Note right away that you can NOT make a candle out of pine resin (even though there are lots of websites saying that you can). Even if you mix the pine resin (or pitch) with beeswax when making the candle, the pine resin will just ignite into a big ball of flames – not a slow-burning candle with a small flame at the wick.

What you can do is make a “lamp” from pine sap or pitch.  

Here’s how.

  • You’ll need a rock in a bowl shape and a bit of moss.
  • Put some moss in the bowl to act as a wick.
  • Surround the moss with some pine resin.
  • Light the moss. Now you’ve got a lamp.
  • Add more pine resin as it burns out.
  • Alternatively, you can hollow out a piece of wood and stuff it full of pine resin or pine pitch and a little bit of fabric to act as the wick.  Then light it and it will burn for a while, kind of light a primitive tea light.

Pine Pitch Glue

Pine pitch works great as a glue because it is so strong and sticky, plus it is waterproof. 

First, you have to make your pine pitch. The only problem is that pine pitch hardens when it dries.  You’ll have to heat it up in order to use it – which can be a bit messy. The best solution for this is to put your pine pitch on the end of a stick.

After making your pine pitch and while it is still liquid, swirl a stick into the liquid pitch. Then set the sticks aside to dry. When it is time to use the pitch glue, just use a bit of fire to heat up the pitch on the stick. The pitch will drip off onto whatever you want to glue.It is kind of like a primitive hot glue stick.

Pine Pitch Torch

Get yourself a long stick to use as the base of your torch. Next, you will need some long, thin scraps of fabric or cotton rope.  Wrap the fabric or rope around the top of your stick. Make some pine pitch. Dip the fabric/rope into the pitch and let it dry. Light it up and you’ve got yourself a torch which will burn for a fairly long time. If you don’t feel like making pine pitch, you can just use melted pine resin instead.

Alternatively, you can get a long, thick stick.  Using a saw, cut some notches into one end of the stick.  You can fill the notches with pine sap or pine pitch. Then just light it on fire.

Pine Tar Soap

Pine tar soap has been used for a really long time but obviously fell out of popularity once chemical soaps became available. Because of pine’s natural antiseptic qualities, it is a really great soap.  Obviously, you are going to have to make pine tar before you can make soap. You can also use pine pitch.

Pine Pitch for Waterproofing

Pine pitch is not water soluble, and it is incredibly durable. You can use it to waterproof all sorts of things, such as using it in the seams of your boots.

Traditionally, pine pitch was used to waterproof boats and buckets. To apply pine pitch, you’ll need to heat it up first (use a double boiler for this so it doesn’t catch on fire!). Then just paint it on whatever you need to waterproof.

Note that you don’t want to use pine pitch for waterproofing things that will be in high heat. The pine pitch will just melt off! It also gets a bit brittle in cold weather, so you’ll probably have to reapply each season.

Medical Uses for Pine Resin

Rheumatism

Native Americans have used pine resin to treat rheumatism because of its anti-inflammatory properties. The resin acts to remove the joint inflammation caused by rheumatism, which helps to restore movement and to alleviate pain. The Costanoan Indians gained these benefits by chewing on the gum-like resin.

Burns and Sores

A traditional use for pine resin has been as an external treatment for burns and sores. A long-term study done by Russian scientists and published in the April 2002 issue of the "Byulleten' Eksperimental'noi Biologii i Meditsiny" found that pine resin, as a main active ingredient in Biopin ointment , inhibited anti-bodies found in bodily fluids but aided healing and prevented infection by boosting cell immunity. The ointment did not cause irritation or allergic reactions.

Other Uses for Pine Resin

During the Civil War, the Confederate surgeon Francis Porter used pine resin as a stimulant, diuretic, and laxative. In China, the resin from a particular pine tree is used to treat abscesses. Resin from the spruce tree was used by colonial Americans as a cold and cough remedy, as well as straight from the tree as a cancer treatment. Physicians in colonial America also recommended tar water, or ground pine resin mixed with water, as a remedy for ulcers, smallpox, and syphilis. These are traditional holistic medicinal uses for pine resin that have not, as of yet, been confirmed by modern science as effective, but that does not mean there is no basis for some of the claims made about resin's anti-inflammatory properties.

Health Benefits of Pine Resin

Therapeutic Benefits of Pine

In North America and in Europe, young growth of Scots pine trees has long been used to prepare herbal tea. Indeed, its benefits are known to treat: rheumatism and wounds that are rebellious to healing (in the form of lotions)common colds and pulmonary tract mucus lining inflammation (in the form of inhaled vapor treatment).

Indeed, pine tree is particularly recommended to treat diseases resulting from nerve malfunction, neuralgic disorders, and rheumatism. Relaxing in a bathtub with pine tree extracts is for sure beneficial to your health. To best appreciate its health benefits, keep the least tender shoots from your collection of fresh young shoots, and add them to the hot water. Use a cloth pouch to make it easy to pick the leaves out later and throw them to the compost.

It is possible to bathe in water infused with pine as described above, but inhaling the raw power of a pine tree forest in nature is another experience altogether. Indeed, if you’ve got the chance, go for a walk in a thick pine tree forest, and gulp the air into your lungs. It is loaded with pine extract, a lemony camphor-like fragrance.

Using Pine Tree in Gastronomy

Previously, white pine young stems were very much appreciated in cooking by the Iroquois American Indians, who used to eat them raw. This dietary habit was also familiar to the American Indians of British Columbia who would also snack on raw shoots from other pine tree species. Some have found different ways to cook young pine tree shoots, and when you add them to vegetables at the end of cooking or toss some in mixed salads, their taste will make you ooh and ahh in wonder. Others prefer to steam those young pine shoots and serve them after just a few minute’s worths of steaming. Dipped in salad dressing or mustard, it’s delicious!

The Edible Portions of The Pine Tree

Pine nuts or pignoli are the seeds. They are mixed with parmesan cheese and basil to prepare Italian pesto or French pistou. Other edible portions include:

  • Pine needles
  • Inner pine bark
  • Young male flowers

Usage and Dosage of Pine Tree

Collected at the tip of branches, right at the spot where needles haven’t yet grow, the young stems of pine trees – especially the most tender ones – are very much appreciated in mixed salads. Once harvested, dry the young stems on a cloth or veil with a lot of air circulation, away from moisture and light. When dry, store them in a paper bag, a cardboard box, a glass jar or a metal tin. You can also sow a cloth pouch to store them, too.

To prepare your bathwater, dip the pouch with about 18 oz (500 grams) young pine tree shoots in the water. You can also prepare a concentrated young pine shoot infusion and add that to the bathwater. 2 or 3 quarts or liters is enough to prepare the infusion.

After the bath, it is highly recommended to lay down and relax for about 30 minutes to an hour (at most) and then resume your daily activities.

Conclusion

As you can tell, there are a plethora of uses for the unassuming pine tree and its resin. But the trick is, knowing what they are and how to use them. So next time you walk past a pine tree think about this article and possibly experiment with some of the ideas we have listed above.

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Tyler Farr
 

Tyler is an energetic nature enthusiast who is currently considering moving into a tiny house. Tyler and his wife enjoy hiking, mountain biking, camping, and doing anything in the great outdoors. He hopes that the articles he writes will help others learn how important it is to take care of the environment.

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