Your Guide to Pine Needle Oils

From Scandinavian saunas and Native American soups, to ancient Egyptian sacred rites, humans have used pine for millennia. Pine is abundant, has a welcoming scent, and has numerous health and hygienic properties that offer a wide variety of uses.

Pine Needle Oil Overview

Pine needle oil comes in clear and pale yellow, and has an earthy smell. As the name implies, the oil is found within the tree's needles, and is extracted through steam distillation. It shouldn’t be confused with pine nut oil—a vegetable oil from pine seeds.
Pine needle oils come from any type of pine tree. The most common source is the Scots Pine, or pinus sylvestris, native to Eurasia. Other common sources include the dwarf pine tree, pinus mugo, from the Swiss Alps, and the long leaf pine tree, pinus palustris, from North America. Oils from each tree differ slightly in smell and properties.

Understanding Its Uses

There’s no shortage of ways to use pine needle oils in your home, including:

Accentuating the Air

Place a few drops of pine oil in an aroma lamp or diffuser to spread the scent around your house. Not only is the scent pleasant, but many also say it helps relieve asthma, bronchitis and other respiratory issues. Although these benefits have not been proven medically, the aroma may help you to feel better.

Bandaging Burns

Recent studies on mice indicate that pine oil has powerful anti-inflammatory and painkilling properties, making it ideal for treating burns and injuries. Serious burns require medical attention, but for minor singes, consider rubbing pine oil to reduce swelling and pain.

Banishing Bugs

Pine oil helps ward off moths and other insects that wreak havoc on fabrics. It’s especially valuable for protecting winter clothes during warm seasons. Before you put your sweaters in the attic, take untreated wood pieces and wet them with a few drops of oil. Place the wood around or within the fabrics to keep them safe throughout the summer.

Bolstering Your Bath

Besides scenting the air with pine oil, you can also incorporate it into bath water. Mix 8-10 drops into hot bath water as it’s filling the tub. This will provide a similar benefit to using an aroma lamp.

Producing Potpourri

Place several pine cones in a bag, add a few drops of pine needle oils, and shake the bag. Then lay the cones in a bowl to add a refreshing scent to any room.

Purging Pathogens

Pine oil has natural antimicrobial properties, meaning that it kills bacteria on contact. Given that antibiotic resistance is rendering many antibacterial soaps less effective, consider using the oil to disinfect surfaces in your home.

Soothing Skin

Combine a few drops of pine needle oil with an ounce of carrier oil or lotion. Rub the solution on sore or stiff areas of your body, as well as areas affected by eczema, cellulite, psoriasis, cuts or skin irritation. This is especially effective in loosening muscles and relieving strains before and after exercising.

Spraying Away Bad Smells

Pine oil's clean, natural scent easily overpowers most odors. Trickle a few drops of oil in a spray bottle mixed with a cup of water, shake it up, and spray in strategic areas of each room or on anything that has a bad smell. Make sure not to spray on furniture, as it could cause damage.

Additional Applications

Besides home remedies, pine oil also appears in manufactured goods and industrial settings. The most prevalent applications include:

Cleaning Products

As a natural disinfectant with an attractive aroma, pine oil has long since caught the attention of cleaning manufacturers. Surface cleaners and polishes frequently contain the oil, helping them keep household objects clear and beautiful.

Cosmetics

Perfumes often employ pine oil to add a fresh, sweet aroma.

Food Flavoring

The oil is not edible in its pure form, but trace amounts are used to flavor several foods and drinks, including dairy products, baked goods, gelatin and alcoholic beverages.

Food Preservation

Recent studies indicate that pine needle oils can serve as a valuable additive for food preparation and preservation. The oil's antibacterial properties prevent spoilage due to food-borne pathogens, while its high antioxidant content helps scavenge free radicals. Although it’s not yet widely used for this purpose, the oil may soon be an important component in food production.

Massage Oil

Pine oil is a prime ingredient for massage products, especially when mixed with lavender, cedar and other essential oils. In addition to adding antibacterial and healing properties to the massage, its scent is an important tool for masseuses who perform aromatherapy.

Skin Care Products

Pine needle oils often appear in skin creams and washes. This allows consumers to take advantage of its powerful healing effect for wounds, scabies and other skin issues.

Scientists and manufacturers continue to research the effects of pine oil, finding new applications every year. The number of products containing the oil will continue to grow over time, as will the ways you can use it in your home.

Risk Recognition

The oil can also cause skin irritation if used in high concentration, which is why you should mix it with a carrier oil or lotion before you apply it to your body, and keep it away from your eyes. Pine oil may present a risk if you or a loved one is pregnant, plans to become pregnant soon, or is breastfeeding. You should also keep it out of reach of children. Finally, make sure the oil you use is pure and comes from a reliable seller. Diluted oils often contain harmful chemicals and other substances that can put you at risk.