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What is Pine Tar Soap?

By Jeremy Laukkonen
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Pine tar soap may be useful in alleviating the symptoms associated with psoriasis, extreme eczema, and other various skin conditions. The ingredient that gives it this reputation is pine tar, which is a sticky material derived from pine wood. While this soap may have curative properties, some pine tar can contain creosote or other harmful chemicals. These may have no adverse effects on some people, while others may experience rashes or other skin ailments. For those with sensitive skin, it may be advantageous to locate pine tar soap that does not contain any harmful chemicals, or to even make their own soap at home.

When pine is exposed to high heat in a low oxygen environment, charcoal and pine tar are the result. The quality and chemical composition of the pine tar depends largely on the composition of the original wood, and the conditions under which it was heated. For instance, exposure to smoke from the heat source may result in harmful chemicals forming in the tar. Pine tar is also used as a sealant, a roofing material, and even as an antiseptic for use on the hooves of cattle and horses. The positive effect it seems to have on conditions like psoriasis and eczema are what makes it attractive as a component in soap.

Pine tar soap can be purchased commercially or made at home. There are a number of commercially-available products, each with its own benefits and drawbacks. Some varieties of pine tar soap will lather better than others, while some may contain undesirable ingredients, like creosote. People using it for skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema, or those with sensitive skin may want to craft their own soap, or look for commercial brands that don't contain the sorts of chemicals or additives that might irritate skin.

Making pine tar soap at home in small quantities is a relatively simple process that generally involves mixing several ingredients under heat, and then pouring the mixture into a mold. Some of the ingredients necessary to make pine tar soap include oil, pine tar, lard, and lye. Since pine tar can be used as an antiseptic for horse hooves, it can often be found at feed stores, while the other ingredients should be more widely available. The process may be difficult for those who have never made soap before, though it is a sure way for those with sensitive skin to obtain soap that is free of any harsh chemicals.

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Discussion Comments
By ysmina — On Jan 25, 2012

@fify-- I make homemade soap and I've tried making pine tar soap once. I did use some essential oils in it including lavender and it did change the scent slightly. But the pine tar scent was still very dominating and I think it has to be because the soap needs to be at least 15% pine tar in order for it to be effective for skin conditions like psoriasis. So no matter what you do, it's going to smell like pine tar to some degree.

And making pine tar soap at home is not easy. It cools down very quickly which makes it difficult to get it into the molds. This was my main problem when I tried to make it and I didn't get the best results. It also didn't lather as well as it should have. I have not tried making it again.

Perhaps there might be some pine tar soaps on the market with added essential oils or fragrances though.

By fify — On Jan 25, 2012

@ddljohn-- I use pine tar soap for psoriasis and I am extremely happy with the results. I used to have it really bad on my knees and elbows with red and painful lesions. I'm doing a lot better now since I've started showering with pine tar soap.

I know the scent of it can take some getting used to. I was not very pleased with it at first either but after seeing an improvement with my psoriasis, I honestly don't care about the scent.

I wonder if you could make your own pine tar soap at home and add some essential oils to cover up the scent of pine tar? I think something like lavender essential oil might be good at covering up the scent. I have no idea how to make natural soap at home, otherwise I would try it.

Has anyone tried making pine tar soap at home? What ingredients did you use? Were you able to change the scent at all?

By ddljohn — On Jan 24, 2012

I've used this soap and I really like it. It worked great for my skin, cleared up my acne in a week. I even started washing my hair with it and saw an improvement with my dandruff. It was almost gone to say the least and my hair was a lot less oily than usual.

I wasn't allowed to continue using it though because my wife couldn't stand the smell. She kept saying that it smells like burned tires. I think it smells like burning wood and it really doesn't bother me. But my wife was complaining so much about it, I had to stop using it.

If I find a milder smelling one though, I'm definitely going to go back to it. It's a great soap if it wasn't for the scent that's a complete turn-off for women.

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