As you’ll know from Friday’s blog post about pine resin and rosin, I’m currently exploring foraging potential of pine trees. I’ve been collecting pine resin (this is not the same as tapping for sap as in the blog post I did this time last year about birch tapping) – resin is a fluid produced by pine trees to heal and protect wounds in the tree, whereas sap is a mix of sugars and water found in the xylem and phloem tubes of a tree. Sap is a sugary water, and flows readily, while resin is usually super sticky!
I’ve been reading about a variety of uses for pine resin, which is fat soluble and, as such, will infuse into oils really well. Pine resin salve is a traditional herbal remedy, particularly in the Americas.
“Here in southwestern New Mexico, many people think of Pine resin salve primarily as a treatment for pulling out splinters, embedded glass, drawing out boils, and for general first aid. It’s so common that it’s often sold in gas stations, and most any local logger or farm worker knows about it.”
Heralded to increase circulation to stiff, sore muscles and joints, help to treat psoriasis, eczema, scabies, heal cracked heels and dry skin on elbows, this herbal salve is surely worth a go?
To make it, you simply take a container/jar and pack it with pine resin and include some chunks of beeswax. I used about 100g of beeswax for two jars of wax (filled to about 2/3) and then covered with olive oil. The traditional method at this point is to place your sealed jars in a warm, dark place for a few weeks, but you guys know me – I don’t have the patience for that kind of waiting unless sloe gin is involved! I decided to render down the sap using a bain marie (called a double boiler in the USA).
I balanced the two jars inside my slow cooker on some tiny flan rings (you could use any type of trivet – just to keep the base of the jars off the bottom of the pot). I just PLACED the jam jar lids on – I didn’t seal them as I didn’t want to risk a pressure-induced explosion, but likewise didn’t want any condensation dripping in. I then poured hot water around the jars up to the level of the top of the resin, switched the slow cooker onto low and went to bed! In the morning the debris and gubbins had sunk to the bottom of the jars, and it was easy to pour off the infused (and lush-smelling) oil into clean jars. Stir as it cools, and you end up with a soft pine-scented salve for use on cuts, scratches and insect bites.
*I want to pop a disclaimer here – many people are actually allergic to pine resin, which can be an irritant to sensitive skin, so you should test your exposure if you’re not sure if you’re one of them, and obviously, if you are, avoid exposure to pine resin, salve or rosin.
I’m still working on a few uses for the rest of my pine resin stash – I’m quite keen on trying pine resin honey (good for sore throats and coughs) and even pine resin tincture (which you have to infuse into overproof alcohol as resin is hydrophobic and ‘normal’ alcohol has too much water for it to infuse properly. I’ll let you know how I get on!