Before we had giant supermarkets and hardware stores, people had to know how to make things themselves.
Unfortunately, a lot of this knowledge has been lost, and nowadays, people are entirely helpless to do things on their own.
So, to increase our survival knowledge and skills, today, I want to talk about all of the things you can do with pine tree sap.
Pine Sap Salve
Pine trees ooze resin when they get damaged. The 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 a natural antiseptic, pine sap is also anti-inflammatory, and its stickiness helps it close wounds. It also works well for healing eczema.
To make pine pitch salve, you first need to 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 Sap 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.
Here’s a video of how to make a pine sap “candle.”
Pine Pitch Glue
Pine pitch works great as 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 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 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 that will burn for a reasonably long time.
*If you don’t feel like making pine pitch, you can 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.
Note that the pine pitch will drip down the torch, and it will be HOT. Do not hold onto this torch; plant it into the ground instead.
Read more about making a torch in the woods.
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.
Use these instructions on how to make pine pitch – just don’t add the charcoal and other substrates!
And here is a video if you prefer to watch.
Pine Pitch for Waterproofing
In my opinion, this is by far the best survival use for pine pitch. 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 survival boots.
Traditionally, pine pitch was used to waterproof boats and buckets. Apparently, even Noah used pitch to waterproof the Ark!
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.
Have you used sap for anything? Do you think these traditional methods are worth preserving?
Pine trees are a fantastic resource and most parts of the tree are actually edible.
See these articles for more:
“First attempt at making pine tar soap.” (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) by dpstone
By Yintan – Own work, CC BY 4.0, Link
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Is there any tube medicine that is sold with tree sap included?
You can pick it up on Amazon here.
I’ve used heated pine sap to fletch arrows with crow feathers.
I’m interested in collecting a lot of it to make my own paint. Maybe use hemlock bark as red pigment in the paint because it is a preservative.
Not heard of that one before – thanks for the heads up, will look into it some more.
Thanks for the info.
Easy reading. Well presented.
Is pine resin safe to use to seal containers that will be used for drinking water? 🙂
Yes I believe it should be safe. Native Americans used to chew it as gum and for its anti-bacterial properties.
There is a video on youtube to do with the healing properties of balsam sap(pure turpentine). Has worked for me…maybe not for everyone tho..the smell and taste is extreme
Check this out I used pine sap on a huge tooth decay. I brushed then pressed a more hardened bead down into the tooth. It stopped the pain AND the infection which I could feel spreading up to my ear and around my jaw.
Some species of pine are poisonous, ie ponderous pine
I grew up chewing ponderosa pitch as gum. It has turpentine, as all evergreen conifers do, but the definition of “poisonous” is up for discussion. Distilled water could be considered poisonous in some applications.
Yew wood is the only kind of deathly poisonous ‘pine’ in the north west. It produces red berries and looks like a real pine tree, or bush. Get familiar so you don’t make a mistake gathering it.
Ponderosa is not poison for most people unless you are allergic to it. Same with the other conifers. Know your allergens!
Thank you for the information
I am a denture wearer and was wondering about the possibility of using pine sap or resin as an adhesive in an outdoor/survival type situation. Could the glue method above be used? Is it safe to consume once it has been dried out and then reheated (wouldn’t be eating it but it would be absorbed somewhat through the gums)? Or would just using it straight from the tree work?
Can’t really see this working too well. The glue hardens when it dries so needs to be heated before application, I expect it will be too uncomfortable to use.
If you used some that was sticky when cool and you dried off your mouth first I think it might work.
Hi nice article. I was wondering if it was safe to use pine sap in my Incense mix? After melting down I add flowers and sage, sometimes incense oils, then roll into small balls. When ready to use I just place in smudge pot/bowl with little sand and light. My concern is it harmful to breathe in for me or my pets? Thanks
I can’t give you a definitive answer on this as I don’t know for sure that the fumes are safe to breath. My gut instinct says it should be fine although you will need to do your own research before you make a decision.
I also found that pine sap is being used to make fuel for automobiles (they better start planting more trees) and it seems that there IS a less harmful secondary biproduct as opposed to gasoline fumes.
I eat pine sap–I fine that it SERIOSLY helps my digestive system and works better than any laxative (short term) or any medicine like priolosec or zantac. Since starting a diet of pine sap (a bead the size of pea) on a daily basis, its helped me quit smoking and completely geared my mind to eat healthier.
I’m not sure that any smoke is truly safe to breathe. But the steam from tea made from conifer needles is very healing to the lungs. Drinking the tea helps, also.
We have just done a post about pine needles if you want more in-depth info.
Pine needles with 5 hooked to the brown part )( a must to have 5 spikes out of one brown part ) others are poisonous , good for a healthy tea to over come being around people that have the Covid shot . Boil 1quart h2o drop in leaves let it set 20 min strain out leaves add yea of taste enjoy
I drink pine needle tea with 2 needles connected. I’ve never gotten sick. Actually, it helped me to heal quickly from my cold
If all conifers we’re actually poison, the why would we use their essential oils? They are absolutely not poison!
The yew wood, yew needles, & yew red berries are all poisonous. Yew wood is found in the forest as a tree, or as a bush in a city garden. It is the only “conifer” looking tree/bush that is truely a deathly experience.
I’d like to make some beeswax wraps that call for powdered pine rosin as an ingredient for its tackiness and added antibacterial properties. I just picked some sap today and was hoping to use it instead. Any thoughts?
Yes it makes wonderful beeswax wraps! I’m a Jenny with Jennifer Joy’s Soap. I see you mentioned our Pinon pine salve above. We also make pre Mixed beeswax Wrap squats to make your own beeswax wraps at home. Super easy to make and they last for up to one year. Best part, you can recount whenever necessary and refresh your wraps to like new.
Hi. I make my bees Wax Wraps with pine rosin. It comes in chunks I bask it a bit and then use an old electric coffee grinder to make into powder. I store it in glass airtight container. After apply the bees wax I sprinkle pine resin over the bees wax and iron between two layers of baking paper. Works for me. There are other methods but pine reson adds antibacterial qualities and helps with stickiness if the wrap.
I love learning about how to use what God gave us, all around us in nature, rather than being totally reliant on store-bought products that are full of harmful chemicals. You’re videos and literature were very informative and easy to follow. Thank you for sharing your knowledge. As I am somewhat of a nube on all of this. I’ve always been interested, and always try to absorb as much information as I can about survival skills and doing things all natural. Loved the whole post, definitely useful and easy to follow!
Even natural products can be full of “harmful chemicals”. It is up to the user to carefully research the end product before exposing themselves unnecessarily.
Once i had a abscessed tooth. I place pine sap on a swab then put it on my gum and cavity. To my delight the next morning, the infection had been drawn to the top of my cavity and i popped it with a needle to release it. I gained instant releif. Granted the taste wasnt pleasent, but soooo worth it!
Wow that’s really cool. Seems like dental solutions would be very valuable in survival. Could probably be used to slow a cavity too.
Someone above wondered if it could be used to glue dentures. I think it possibly could if you found some that was sticky while cool, and dried your mouth first
My family has been gathering pine sap for years for healing salve. It works wonders on any wound, even those split fingers I get in the winter time. My dad always chewed it as gum also, something I never mastered like he did. It’s been a staple at our houses for generations!
Melanie – this could be potentially life saving so thanks for sharing.
Loved this article. It is natural use of nature. Was very interesting. I remember my grandfather getting sap from his pine trees but was really too young to know what he used it for. He was very protective of his pines. Miss him.
I make a pine pitch salve, it has proven to be a family favorite, it will keep even a deep cut from getting infected and help it bind back together really well.It will heal eczema and other skin irritations. It is also a drawing salve which when applied to a deep or stubborn sliver or wart will pull it out. Apply it and cover with a bandage. Keep doing it until it comes out. When off hiking in the woods and you have a serious cut, clean it as well as you can then find a pine tree, and pack the sap right into the wound, then wrap it up, ace bandage style. It should heal up nicely.
Great info Tina, thanks for sharing.
I bought a product called EmauidMax, a 2 oz jar cost $25.00. It’s working for me. It says it made from metallic silver. I took a deep smell of it and my nose says that smells like pine. So I been doing some research on the healing properties of pine pitch. Thanks for the info.
Some species of pine are poisonous ie ponderosa pine
Great descriptions on ways to use pine sap. A hundred years ago my paternal grandfather came to America from Yasne Grodtka, a Russian village of 2,000 located halfway between Kiev and Chernobyl. Over many years I occasionally heard relatives of my grandfather’s generation make vague references to how in the “old country” our family made a living from pine trees. In 2005 I visited Yasne Grodtka and observed how the village was surrounded by a pine forest and that many homes had thatched roofs and learned that our family’s house had a loading dock extending out from what we would take as the living room. Apparently, from this dock barrels of pine sap were loaded onto wagons and then used to water proof and reseal the thatched roofs. I am making what can’t be more than an educated guess. The sap could well have also been used for illumination, soap and antiseptic. Those were times when people lived with nature.
That’s amazing. There are so many things we could learn from our grandparents and also from other cultures. Luckily, there is a movement of people who are trying to get back to living with nature!
My grandmother used to make a tar polis to put on people with phnewmonia, , lit worked , I know that for sure because I almost died from double bronchiole phnewmonia She made one for me and cured my phnewmonia you Cut a piece of brown paper the size to fit a persons back then use a d oxen egg yolks beaten Speed on the brown paper then cover completely with salt making it white, then drizzle with pine tar, place a pice white cloth to cover big to cover this mixture, the pin it to the back of an old teshirt that person already had on put another tshirt over that one keep heated with heat pad during the night or for 6 to 8 hours the person will begin to throwing up til the phnewmonia is gone
That’s amazing. It’s so sad how much of this knowledge has been lost.
Wow, very cool. Thank you!
edgar cayce in the usa cured many people with poultice using similar techniques.
you put a saturated cloth pad with pine oil pine sap or pure gum spirit of turpentine also combined with castor oil .
put pad or cloth over the problem area and keep warm these are very powerful healing treatments
Humidifying a hawk’s mew with pine sap and water, so that they breath it, is a home remedy for a fungal infection of the hawk’s lungs (aspergillosis), so it would probably be good for us too! Wish I’d known that when I was younger. 🙂
I am fascinated about how you would come across that information 😀 Cool!
I recently got into fixing old alcohol blow torches. I’m fascinated how the alcohol gets heated up quickly via the brass tubing and turns to gas, which makes pressure to make the hot roaring flame. I keep wondering if it would be possible to do the same with pine pitch? Cant find any info online about it. But a pine pocket blowtorch would be cool. I wonder what the btu rating would be……
Anyone know if it helps repel biting insects??
The stronger, more citrusy-smelling sap does help somewhat more than a coconut oil, eucalyptus oil, lemongrass oil mixture, but is harder to make. Do not heat it over the strove, but instead pour a small, small bit of boiling water over a good sized lump of sap to let it liquify a bit, then mix it with your carrier oil (coconut, shea, olive, lard, etc.) and apply.
Basil & mint essential oils help. Cucumbers help keep bees away.
Hi there/ looking for the Ingredients and instructions for the soap- I only see the video
My brother has a lung Fibrosis.Wondering if pine sap could work wonders for him.
Actually someone mentioned and suggested to me to try pine sap but would that work?
If yes,where can i make an order i should then need an E-Mail address and phone contact of supplier.
I was told by a an old Tom Brown student to add toasted egg shells or toasted clam shell (ground up) to the pine sap when making glue, this is the way the Natives did it. It adds a tremendous amount of strength to it making it like epoxy.
I use Pine Tar for everything (I buy gallons of it Brickmore brand) Finish for outside buildings 50% pine tar/50%Linseed oil (if used where food is use raw linseed oil) otherwise use boiled (dries faster), and a few splashes of Pure Gum SPirit Turpentine. I have buildings, Chicken coops (in and out) and fences/posts that have been protected by it for years without any issues (and the bugs stay away!!!).
Healing Balm/Leather Protectant too!: Pine Tar 1 heaping TBSP, 1/4 cup chunk of Un-Refined Bees wax (can be found on etsy or local), 1/3 cup of coconut oil, 1 tbsp castor oil——heat all to blend in double boiler and pour off into small jars or tins—-use for cuts, bug bites, etc and also for leather to waterproof and preserve.
Pine tar soap and shampoo. Those both have three ing. Coconut oil, Pine Tar and water (with lye to create the saponification).
One thing I forgot: add a splash of turps to the healing balm mix!