Pine trees are often adorned with festive decorations over Christmas and New Year, but their fragrant foliage is also a source of a valuable essential oil to benefit our health and our home.
Pine essential oil is extracted from the needle-like foliage of pine trees through steam distillation. It has a fresh, balsamic or turpentine-like odour, depending on its source. It should not be confused with pine nut oil (also referred to as pine seed oil) which is a vegetable oil commonly used for cooking.
For the science buffs out there, pine oil is composed primarily of terpene alcohols. Its major component is a-terpineol, but it also contains the monoterpenes carene, a-pinene, β-pinene and limonene. It also has dipentene, a-terpinene, borneol, borny acetate and camphene, among others.
These constituents give pine oil its long list of beneficial antimicrobial, antibacterial, antifungal, antiseptic, antioxidant and antirheumatic properties. Pine oil is also a natural analgesic and anti-inflammatory agent, which makes it perfect for stiff muscles; it also works as a good decongestant and expectorant for respiratory ailments.
Pine oil also has many practical uses:
- Fragrance – add a few drops of pine oil for making soaps, detergents, lotions, candles and ointments.
- Insect repellant – protect clothes from moths and other insects by placing cotton wool balls infused with several drops of the oil into drawers and cupboards.
- Air freshener – using an old kitchen spray bottle, fill with water and add 20 drops of pine oil, shake well and spray into the room.
- Massage oil before and after exercise – using a 100ml bottle with a pipette (an old tincture bottle is perfect) add 5 drops each of pine oil, juniper berry oil and rosemary oil into 100ml of jojoba oil. Remember to do a small skin test first, leaving for 24hrs.
While pine oil has a low toxicity risk to humans, the usual rules apply to inappropriate dosage or improper application, i.e. possible skin rashes, eye irritation, gastrointestinal issues and respiratory distress. Don’t use if pregnant or nursing without seeking expert medical opinion.
Recipe – making a pine oil infusion
- Harvest your fresh pine needles from a pine tree, enough to completely fill the jar you’re going to keep your finished oil in. Don’t use fallen pine needles as they may grow moulds and spoil the oil.
- Wash the pine needles with warm water then pat dry – I find paper towels work best.
- Now gently bruise the needles in a pestle and mortar.
- Pour sweet almond oil in a large-mouth jar, and then add in as many pine needles as you can, ensuring they’re completely covered. Cover the jar and gently shake to make sure the needles are well coated.
- Store the jar in an ambient room of around 20-deg C, and out of direct sunlight.
- Shake the jar at least once a day for a week, then store the jar in a dark cupboard to allow it to age for a further 2-weeks - don’t shake the jar during this time.
- 2-weeks later we’re ready to drain the oil. Place a large piece of muslin/cheesecloth into a bowl or a large open-mouthed jug, big enough to overlap the sides, and pour in the oil. Gather up the cloth at the top and squeeze as you go to drain all the oil out.
- Done! Transfer your homemade pine oil to a dark bottle, cap it and use topically for up to 1-year.
Find our gorgeous Pine essential oil here from the beautiful Scotch Pine (Pinus sylvestris) tree.