Majestic Pines 101

By Ross Sveback, February 17, 2009

I live on Majestic Pines, and since I love botanicals I brought the two together. When I moved here, I thought it would be best to remove all the pine trees, but I have since come to love them after finding out so many fantastic things about them.

The Scotch pine (Pinus sylvestris in latin terms) is among the most important commercial trees. Most of them have straight, unbranched, cylindrical trunks, which furnish large amounts of excellent saw timber. On account of the straight grain, strength, and other qualities of pine timber, it is used for nearly every sort of constructional work and the trade in it is enormous.

All pine trees yield resin in greater or smaller quantities, which is obtained by tapping the trees. The crude resin is almost entirely used for the distillation of Oil of Turpentine and Rosin (a form of resin), only small quantities being employed medicinally – for ointments, plasters, etc. When the Oil of Turpentine is entirely distilled off, the solid material remaining (residuum) is called Rosin or Colophony, but when only part of the oil is extracted, the viscous mass remaining is known commercially as common Crude Turpentine.

Oil of Turpentine is a good solvent for many resins, wax, fats, sulphur, and phosphorus, and is largely employed in making varnish, in oil-painting, etc. Medicinally, it is much employed in both general and veterinary practice for external applications to the skin, and is valuable as an antiseptic. It is used for horses and cattle internally as a means to rid their bodies of parasites, and externally as a stimulant for rheumatic swellings, and for sprains and bruises, and to kill parasites.

Rosin is used not only by violinists, for rubbing their bows, but also in making sealing wax, varnish, and resinous soaps for sizing paper and papier maché and dressing hemp cordage, but one of its special uses is for making brewer’s pitch for coating the insides of beer casks and for distilling resinous oils, when the pitch used by shoemakers is left as residuum. Pitch is also used in veterinary practice.

Tar is an impure turpentine, viscid and brown-black in colour, procured by destructive distillation from the roots of various coniferous trees, particularly from the Scotch Pine (Pinus sylvestris). Tar is used medicinally, especially in veterinary practice, for its antiseptic, stimulant, diuretic and diaphoretic action. Tar-water is given to horses with chronic cough and used internally and externally as a cutaneous stimulant and antiseptic in eczema. Oil of Tar is used instead of Oil of Turpentine in the case of mange, etc.

A considerable industry has grown up in the United States in the distillation of Pine wood by means of steam under pressure. One of the products thus obtained, which has considerable commercial importance, is known as Pine Oil. It has a pleasant odor, resembling that of caraway or Juniper Oil, and has been largely used for making paints which dry without gloss and as a ‘flatting’ material. It flows well under the brush and is a powerful solvent, and is useful for emulsion paints such as are now employed for inside work.

Pine resins are largely employed by the soap-maker for the manufacture of brown soaps.
The trade in resins was for many years almost exclusively a French industry, and only in France were the Pine forests turned to account for the production of resin on a commercial scale. Now, however, Switzerland, Sweden, Russia and North America furnish quantities, though, from the point of view of quality, the Pines which flourish near Bordeaux in France furnish a resin still much in request, and the turpentine extracted therefrom is abundant and one of the best qualities produced.

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