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Trementina. The Power of Pine Pitch Resin.

Pinus edulis
Family: Pinaceae

Names: Trementina, Pine Resin, Pine Pitch, Pine

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This year the piñon pine trees bore a lot of pinecones. And, last year I gathered jewelled globs of pine pitch resin. I knew there were uses for this resin but the incentive did not inspire me til now to make salve from it. The stickiness of pine pitch daunted me… but, it wasn’t the problem I thought it would be.

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First snow of the year and trementina from a nearby piñon tree.

As some of you have read, I wrote a post about pine needle tea. It is high in vitamins C and A and is a fresh lemony tasting tea. It is an accessible tree to many and a health giving, refreshing tea that can be easily foraged.

pine needle tea

The Piñon tree is well known for its delicious piñon nuts (pine nuts) which are 15% protein, high in thiamine and oils. Delicious and used in many Southwestern dishes and often used in pestos. Pine nuts are still gathered by local families all over the Southwest as a happy ritual, gathering the plentiful harvest of nuts. And it is a huge economic crop as well. Bumper crops of nuts cycle through every seven years or so and this past fall was such a year.

Picture of ripe cones and nuts below:

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Whereas, the immature, female cones can be roasted and are delicious and syrup-y in the center.

Make an easy and delicious syrup.
Gather green pine needles. Chop or grind slightly in a mortar and pestle to release herbal properties. Add to raw honey and keep in a warm place for a few weeks. Strain and now you have an easy made raw honey pine syrup!

The inner bark, or cambium, is sweet and good, cut into strips and boiled like spaghetti. Or the cambium can be dried and ground into a flour and used to thicken stews or added to other flours in recipes.

The piñon pine has been a revered staple for centuries as well as gracing the landscape of countless canyons and foothills in the Southwest and other areas on the fringe.

more piñon info here: PFAF

The pine tree was used by the Aztecs for its herbal uses.
An Aztec Herbal was compiled in 1552 and is definitely something I want to learn more from. Here is an informative site about the Aztec Herbal.

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a young tree emerging:

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…………………………………………

the pitch about pitch…

Pine Pitch/Resin can be made into an all-purpose salve.

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The pine tree produces this resin as a protective measure against invasian of insects, bacteria, fungus or injury.

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Last years find of resin has dried to a taffy consistency.

I prefer to use resin that has dropped from the tree, rather than scraping some off of the tree.
I feel the tree needs what pitch is on it as a natural defense and protection.

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From what I gathered last year,
I flipped the front piece over to show the dirt and debris stuck to the bottom of the resin. The jewelled, amber colored globs have mostly dried. I need to slowly and gently heat the pitch in a pan that I will call my pitch pan. Then I will strain the pitch through a sieve. (the pitch sieve)
I’ve read that the debris will sink and the resin can be cast off and separated. But, only experience will tell! Experience coming up shortly!

According to Michael Moore, herbalist, Pine pitch remedies are:

To take a small, currant sized piece of pitch and chew and swallow it. If expectoration of the lungs is needed, the pitch can help.
This method also softens bronchial mucus.
And, this remedy is especially useful for children.

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The pitch can also be disinfectant for urinary tract problems but only when kidney inflammation is not present.

Also, Moore notes that pine needle tea, which is a pleasant tea, has a mild diuretic function and can help expectoration also.

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If greater expectoration is needed, boil the inner bark and sweeten the tea with honey.

Trementina salve can also be rubbed on the chest for lung troubles and congestion.

It is a well known and often used remedio to get rid of splinters. If warmed and slathered on, then left to set and adhere, it can bring a splinter to a head and then it can be easily removed. It may cause an increase in inflammation, but this is a productive stage, indicative of the body’s activation response to dislodge the splinter faster.

I enjoy and respect this herbalist’s articles and feel encouraged by her words on using pine pitch as a remedy. Check out Kiva Rose:

bearmedicineherbals.com

With chagrin, Michael Moore talks about using the pine pitch remedy to remove a splinter for the first time. And, says he blistered his skin when he tried this… zoinx!

So, care and technique is the key here.

A salve of pine pitch could help here too. Warmed by sunlight or just as is, since salves are blended with wax and oils, etc.
Repeated applications may be needed to bring a splinter to the surface but this is a trusted method.

I’ve also read that trementina salve can heal boils, bug bites, scrapes, cuts, rashes, and even ease sore and achey muscles.

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Pine pitch/Trementina salve I just made. It soaks into the skin nicely and is not sticky at all!

Pine is: antiseptic, diuretic, antifungal, antibacterial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, expectorant, and rubefacient… just to list a few properties!

And, I’ve used this soap before. Pine soap!

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Pine Tar Soap!

Recipe to make your own pine tar soap here!

Thanks to the nerdyfarmwife.com!

TRADITION

I did not grow up seeing my elders use and apply trementina salve to soothe scrapes or remove splinters… so, I give my thanks to this tradition and all those this tradition has been a mainstay. And, I am improvising on this remedy. Adding Osha I have heard is traditional and using oil instead of tallow and skipping lanolin, made from sheep’s wool. I have enthusiasm but lack the experience tradition and elders teach us.

But, piñon and juniper are all around me and I feel intimately connected with the landscape. So feel encouraged to craft remedies by hand.

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As a child, I could see huge pines swaying outside my bedroom window and felt fear for them during dramatic lightning storms.

I remember playing beneath huge white pines and counting their needles by spelling the word white.
w h i t e, five letters for five needles in a bunch equals white pine. The piñon pine in my area is known as two needle pine so my word game and maybe language would have been different here in the beautiful land of enchantment. Or entrapment if your luck has turned…or sarcasm has taken sway.

I also remember the eventual pine pitch stuck to arms, clothing and hair. Hard to scrub off but now I know that oil helps!

How to make Trementina Salve… Pine Pitch Salve!

1) Gather your own pine resin/pitch
usually plenty on ground below, rather than scraping off tree that needs it

2) let semi-dry like I did, if you want.
It was pretty easy, with oiled hands to remove debris. Brush off surface debris and/or with oiled knife cut or lift debris out of fresher sap. Fully dried trementina may take longer to dissolve, unless powdered… not sure on using fully dried resin.
I have read it takes longer.

3) Add to herbal oil (optional)
Add to oil and sun infuse tiny/small pieces or break up dry resin into small pebble sizes.

Here is the Osha oil I made for the base of the oil. Osha only grows in the Rocky Mountains. It is anti viral and anti microbial. It helps with infections especially good with lung problems. It helps heals wounds and relieves achiness. Quite a revered remedio on its own! Roots infusing in oil.

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4) Sun infuse or bury in sand if weather is hot enough to melt resin in the oil… or double boil method… of oil in one pan above another pan filled partway with water. Try not to get water in the oil.

Here is the pine resin/pitch a.k.a. trementina that I cleaned of debris and lightly grated to remove debris. Then I oiled my hands, like for taffy making, and tore off small pieces of the pitch and I oiled the bottom of the pan first too.

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5) Because the pine pitch I used was taffy like, it melted in the double boiler heated oil very quickly, I stirred often. Some residue sank to the bottom.

6) For every 8 ounces volume of oil, add approximately 1.5 ounces weight of beeswax… or 1/3 Cup by volume (measuring cup) to the 8 ounces of oil.

7) Melt beeswax completely.
I ended up casting off the oil/wax mixture, leaving any residue at bottom of the pan. But you can use a sieve at this point. (I was going to use a thin cotton dish towel as a sieve, but this was cumbersome for me. Perhaps a helper next time ;))

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8) Pour into your jars and voila be proud of the useful, healing salve you made from pine resin from your backyard, favorite woods or even a park nearby.

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An alchemical feat and accomplishment! 👑

9) And, use oil to clean out your pans and utensils quickly with a rag or paper towels. This works well if you are quick to not let the pitch set. Use oil to clean your hands of resin too, counters, etc.

Spruce pitch and other resins can be used to make a healing salve.

We also have been having fun using charcoal, to light our incense. You just need a small piece. The resin would probably would make a good fire starter too.

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pine resin, a pretty arroyo rock and some incense charcoal above

And, the trementina- pine pitch resin makes a lovely fume of smoke. I enjoy the sweet smell infused with pine and other fragrant notes. It also soothed my headache.

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I am fighting off a head cold and the pine resin used as incense was a helpful and pleasant remedy. We even put some pine resin in our tea strainer for a healing tea mixed with osha, red root, thyme and elderberry to soothe our cold. You can even tincture the resin if you want to.

Some other cool folks who work with trementina:

Milagro Herbs Trementina Article in EvolvingMagazine.com

And, sometimes it takes a cold to remember, last months foray into medicinal, herbal vinegar making…

I broke out the fire cider and it really helped! It is spicey and warming.I am using the vinegar with food too and it is great flavor to add in.

Fire cider, pine pitch remedies and pine needle tea do the job!

fire cider here!

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Good times with pine resin!
Keep me posted on your journey and Trementina Blessings to You.

Now I have the breath of pines in a jar. And so will you!

Sources:

With gratitude posted links

and this wonderful book by Michael Moore, who never ceases to inspire or amuse.

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Medicinal Plants of the Desert and Canyon West. by, Michael Moore. Museum of New Mexico Press. Santa Fe, N.M.,
1989.

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Chunks of resin found on a tree that was chopped down many years ago. Grateful for the resin I found today.

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lichen nearby.

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