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Pinus sylvestris, the Scotch pine, belongs to a family of evergreen conifers that includes about 90 species that grow in the temperate regions of the northern hemisphere. The Scotch pine grows to a height of 100 feet or more in the northern forests of Europe. It's one of the hardiest pine trees and can thrive in long, bitterly cold winters. The tree is called Scotch pine because at one time it covered much of Scotland, where a few primeval stands of these impressive trees remain today. In the U.S. the Scotch pine is often grown as an ornamental landscape specimen, prized for its beautiful bluish-green needles. Thousands are raised on Christmas tree farms all over the northern U.S. -- that's how many Americans have come to know and love the sweet, refreshing aroma of pine.

Several different species of pine are distilled for the essential oil, often labeled simply as "pine oil". So it's important to become familiar with the correct botanical name, Pinus sylvestris. Other pines whose needles yield similar oils include Pinus mugo, the mugo pine and Pinus palustris, the longleaf pine. The essential oil of mugo pine can be strongly irritating. The oil of the longleaf pine is the primary source for turpentine.

The needles, twigs and bark of all pine species contain a sticky, fragrant resin from which substances such as rosin, turpentine and essential oil are extracted.

Turpentine is the distilled essence of crude pine resin. Pine resin is obtained from the trunks of trees like the longleaf pine. The trees are tapped, much as maple trees are tapped for maple syrup. The sticky resin oozes from the cut bark into pots, then the resin is collected and heated in a still until the volatile turpentine compounds are liberated and captured.

Rosin, also called colophony, is the very viscous substance that's left over after all the more volatile substances are distilled from the resin. Rosin is applied to the bows of string instruments like violins. This produces a tacky surface on the bow which, when drawn over the strings, encourages them to resonate and produce sound.

Pine essential oil is steam distilled from the fresh twigs and needles, of the tree -- not directly from the crude resin, as turpentine is. The twigs and needles impart a sweet-evergreen aroma to the essential oil, which also has a turpentine-like or terebinthe aroma. Poor quality pine essential oil lacks sweetness, and has a one-dimensional, harsh terebinthe aroma. Good pine essential oil has a short-lived sweetness not unlike juniper berry oil.

In northern Europe, oil distillation takes place from spring until winter. The needles and branch tips are generally gathered when forests are thinned or mature trees are harvested for their wood. The mountain forests of the Tyrol district in Austria have a reputation for producing the finest pine essential oil anywhere. Production is not enough to meet worldwide consumption however, so pine essential oil comes from a variety of locations in Europe and Russia.

In aromatherapy, pine is used in saunas, steam baths and massage blends for sore muscles. The natural evergreen aroma of pine essential oil is a sweet alternative to harshly medicinal pharmaceutical preparations. Here's a recipe that combines the oils of several plants used to add, therapeutic fragrance to steams and saunas.

North Woods Sauna Blend
In aromatherapy, pine is used in saunas, steam baths and massage blends for sore muscles. The natural evergreen aroma of pine essential oil is a sweet alternative to harshly medicinal pharmaceutical preparations. Here's a recipe that combines the oils of several plants used to add, therapeutic fragrance to steams and saunas.

Soothing Muscle Rub
In aromatherapy, pine is used in saunas, steam baths and massage blends for sore muscles. The natural evergreen aroma of pine essential oil is a sweet alternative to harshly medicinal pharmaceutical preparations. Here's a recipe that combines the oils of several plants used to add, therapeutic fragrance to steams and saunas

 

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