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Essential Oil of Pine: Uses and Benefits of Pine Oil

Updated on July 20, 2013

Anyone familiar with the outdoors will easily identify the sweet, woodsy scent of pine trees.

The most common use for many people of pine trees is as Christmas trees or decorations during Christmas, but did you know that oil from a pine tree has many other applications, from cleaning via medical uses to aromatherapy and massage?

Pine oil is obtained by the steam distillation of the needles, twigs and cones from this evergreen tree, whose scientific name is Pinus sylvestris.

Since pine trees are abundant in nature, the oil is relatively inexpensive and easily available, and is an important essential oil to have at home.

Pine trees growing in a pine wood.
Pine trees growing in a pine wood.

History of the pine tree

It is believed the pine plant originated in Austria and Russia and spread in different parts of the world.

Because the pine tree can withstand both cold and relatively dry conditions, it grows easily and well in many different places.

Native Americans used pine trees in several ways. They chewed the needles to ward off scurvy, and stuffed the oil-rich needles in their mattresses to discourage lice and fleas.

The needles contain quite a lot of vitamin C, so it was a useful remedy for hunters if they were short of the vitamin.

Hippocrates used pine to treat pulmonary conditions (lung-related medical conditions) and Pliny recommended pine oil for respiratory problems.

Health benefits of pine essential oil

Pine oil has antibacterial, energizing, antiseptic, and aromatic properties. It's been used as a tool in the medical armoury for thousands of years.

Here are some of the medicinal uses of the pine plant and pine oil:

  • Skin Care: The most widely known use of pine essential oil is in treating skin problems. Dermatologists often prescribe the oil in treating the following conditions: psoriasis, itching, eczema, scabies, sores, and fleas;

  • Cosmetics: Pine essential oil has a distinctive essence and gives a sweet aroma to the cosmetics it is used in. Pine plant oil is widely used as massage oil and in perfumes and other scents;

  • Stress Relief: The health benefits of pine oil include some emotional benefits. It gives an energizing, invigorating feeling. Pine plant oil is also useful for people suffering from loss of concentration and loss of memory. Regular massage with pine essential oil lends mental clarity;

  • Injuries: Pine essential oil is antiseptic and can be used in treating cuts, sores, and fungal infections;

  • Aromatherapy: Oil from pine trees is one of the most important essential oils used in aromatherapy. Pine essential oil blends well with cedarwood, rosemary, lavander, sage, and juniper oils. The "clean" smell means that people having an aromatherapy massage find pine oil invigorating and cleansing.

Use of pine oil as a disinfectant

Pine oil contains phenols, which are acidic chemicals that have germ-killing properties.

Pine oil disinfectants are effective against yeast spores, E.coli, and other household germs. Mildew and mould cannot withstand the chemicals in pine oil.

You can try the following steps to make your own pine oil cleaner, or buy one of the many ready-made commercial cleaners (pine is a common ingredient in cleansing products for the home).

Pine oil disinfectant recipe

Heat six cups of water in a large saucepan. Pour the hot water into a large container and add a cup of soap flakes.

Stir the mixture very slowly so it won't bubble. If it does, stop stirring and skin the foam off the top of the mixture. Add a cup of pine oil slowly as you continue to stir.

This makes a concentrated product, so dilute the pine oil disinfectant with equal parts water when you're ready to use it. It's great to use on kitchen surfaces, floors, and bathrooms.

If you choose to buy cleaning products containing pine essential oil, have a look at the ingredients list, as some also have chemicals in them that you'd rather avoid.

Pine and holly used as Christmas decorations
Pine and holly used as Christmas decorations

Household Uses of Pine Essential Oil

Other uses of pine oil in and around the home include:

  • Tree Scents: To freshen the scent of a cut Christmas tree, mix one cup water and ten drops of pine essential oil and place at the foot of the tree.

  • Potpourri: Refresh pine cone potpourri by placing pine cones in a plastic bag with two drops of pine essential oil and leave overnight. This will bring back the natural aroma.

  • Christmas Spray: Add four drops of pine essential oil, two drops of mandarin oil, and two drops of cinnamon oil to a cup of distilled water.

  • Carpet freshener: Add ten drops of pine oil to a cup of water and mist over carpets.

  • Refreshing Bath: Add eight drops of pine essential oil to a warm water bath for an invigorating experience.

  • Massage Oil: Add twenty-five drops of pine oil to a half-ounce of jojoba oil for a fresh-scented massage.

  • Natural lotion: Add twenty drops of pine oil to unscented lotion for a masculine-scented moisturizer.

  • Fleas flee: Mix four drops of pine essential oil with a cup of warm water and brush through your dog’s coat to discourage fleas.

Herbal Lore

The bristlecone pine is the oldest living tree -- one specimen is 4,600 years old!

Cautions and side-effects of using pine plants and pine oil

Pine oil has a low human toxicity level, but it can irritate skin and mucous membranes.

It has also been known to cause breathing problems in large doses, so use with caution.

Internal consumption of pine essential oil poses a danger to human kidneys, so it should not be given to people who are suffering from kidney disorders.

Always use pine essential oil in a diluted form when adding to lotions or other skin applications.

Mix with a carrier oil if you are using pine oil for aromatherapy or aromatherapy massage.

Small children and elderly people should not be given pine essential oil since it may cause hypertension.

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