How to Make Pine Resin Soap {2 recipes}

Learn how to infuse pine resin to use in homemade soap recipes that are great for your skin!

bar of soap surrounded by pine cones and needles

Pine resin is traditionally used in first aid salves and balms for achy muscles, troublesome skin conditions, or damaged and chapped skin.

Pine resin can also be used to create soaps that might be helpful for someone with a tough-to-treat skin condition, plus it adds a wonderful woodsy label appeal.

I’ve gotten a fair amount of emails from soapers asking for troubleshooting help over the years, and when it comes to pine resin, a pretty common problem occurs when someone tries to directly add a significant amount of melted resin to soap. This makes it more likely to seize up.

So, how do you make pine resin soap instead? I have the best results by first infusing one of the oils with pine resin (just like you do when making a salve), and then including that infused oil in the soap recipe.

Pine resin infused oil still speeds up trace (thickens the soap faster), but it’s a lot more manageable to handle.

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a cut branch of pine tree with dried resin

How to Get Pine Resin

If you don’t have access to pine trees or pine tree resin, you can buy some sustainably harvested resin from Etsy.

For these soaps, I used resin collected from a pine tree that blew down and landed on a couple of our plum trees during a windstorm two years ago. My husband cut some of the branches to relieve the weight from the plum trees until the pine could be safely removed and that’s where the pine exuded resin that I could gather.

We later cut up the rest of the pine tree and started a hugelkultur bed with the pieces. (Waste not, want not!) 😊

Here are some more articles on how to gather pine resin:

What’s the difference between pine resin and pine tar in soap?

Don’t confuse pine resin with pine tar.

Pine tar is a thick black substance created by exposing pine wood to high heat. It can also be used to make soap and skin care products, especially for psoriasis – see my Pine Tar Soap Recipe and Pine Tar Salve Recipe, Pine tar has a very strong smoky smell.

Pine resin is sap that oozes from a damaged tree and is lighter colored and has a piney scent that’s generally pleasant.

woman's hand holding jar of infused oil

How to Infuse Pine Resin Oil

Before making pine resin soap, you must first make a pine resin infused oil.

You’ll need the following ingredients to make the infused oil:

  • pine resin chunks or powder
  • olive oil (or oil of your choice from your recipe)
  • a glass canning jar that you’ll save just for resin infusing
  • a stainless steel strainer
hammer with crushed resin

Directions to make the infused oil:

If the pine resin chunks are large, freeze them a few hours to harden, then place between folded freezer or parchment paper and smash with a hammer to break them up into smaller pieces or powder.

You could use a coffee grinder instead, but it will leave a sticky residue inside (I learned this the hard way with propolis!), so I prefer to use the freezer/parchment paper and hammer method.

Place the powder and small bits of resin in the bottom of the canning jar and fill with oil. I use a few tablespoons of resin in my jar of oil – the amount is flexible, work with what you have.

Set the oil down into a saucepan containing several inches of water – enough to cover quite a bit of the jar sides, but not so much that the jar floats.

Place the pan over a medium-low (more low than medium) burner and heat for several hours, keeping a close eye on the oil and refilling the water in the pan as needed.

I use my woodstove in the winter to save on electric oven use, and have heard of others using a crockpot to infuse the oil, but haven’t tried that.

Don’t leave the oil unattended, don’t heat directly over an open flame, and don’t let the water in the saucepan dry out. Though it’s diluted with oil here, pine resin itself is flammable.

After most of the resin has infused into the oil (there may be bark and needles and other small bits mixed in that won’t melt), remove from heat and strain through a fine mesh sieve into a clean jar while it’s still hot.

Cleaning Tips:

After straining, immediately clean the fine mesh strainer with paper towels or an old rag to remove any bits of softened resin. Wash with hot water and dish soap, then allow to air dry.

If you notice any sticky spots on the fine mesh sieve after it dries, rub them with coconut or olive oil, then wash again with warm soapy water.

The jar that the oil infused in may be somewhat difficult to clean and may need to be saved just for future resin projects.

To clean it as well as possible: while the jar is still hot or very warm, use a spoon to scrape up as much spent resin from the bottom as you can, cleaning the spoon off with a paper towel or old rag.

Pour about an inch or two of vodka or alcohol into the bottom of the jar and leave for a few days, to help dissolve any remaining resin.

bar of soap decorated with evergreens and beauty berries

Pine Resin Soap #1 (Tallow Version)

All measurements are given in weight. You must use a scale to make soap; do not use measuring cups.

Yield: abt 22 ounces (624 grams)

Ingredients for the soap:

  • 5 oz (142 g) pine resin infused olive oil (36%)
  • 3.5 oz (99 g) coconut oil (25%)
  • 3.5 oz (99 g) tallow (25%)
  • 2 oz (57 g) sweet almond or sunflower oil (14%)
  • 1.99 oz (56 g) sodium hydroxide (5% superfat)
  • 5.32 oz (151 g) distilled water (full water amount; 38% water as % of oils)
  • optional – 8 drops rosemary extract (ROE/rosemary oleoresin extract)
  • optional – essential oils (see suggestions below)

If you don’t have enough pine resin infused olive oil, just use more plain olive oil to make up the difference. (For example, you could use 4 ounces of infused olive oil + 1 ounce of plain olive oil.)

Pine Resin Soap #2 (Vegan Version):

If you don’t wish to use tallow, you can use a combination of cocoa or kokum butter plus more olive and some added castor oil (for better lather) instead.

  • 6 oz (170 g) pine resin infused olive oil (43%)
  • 3.5 oz (99 g) coconut oil (25%)
  • 2 oz (57 g) cocoa butter (14%)
  • 2 oz (57 g) sweet almond or sunflower oil (14%)
  • 0.5 oz (14 g) castor oil (4%)
  • 1.97 oz (56 g) sodium hydroxide (5% superfat)
  • 5.32 oz (151 g) distilled water (full water amount; 38% water as % of oils)
  • optional – 8 drops rosemary antioxidants (ROE/rosemary oleoresin extract)
  • optional – essential oils (see suggestions below)

Alternatively, you could just incorporate the infused oil into your favorite soap recipe.

Optional Essential Oil Ideas for Your Soap:

Blend Idea #1 – Walk in the Woods

This blend is from my Simple & Natural Soapmaking print book and a favorite of most who try it! The rate given is a bit over 2%. Double check rates for your recipe size at EO Calc.

  • 6 g cedarwood (Himalayan or Atlas) essential oil
  • 1 g clove essential oil
  • 1 g vetiver essential oil

Blend Idea #2 – Forest Mint

Also a blend from my Simple & Natural Soapmaking print book – it’s a wonderfully cool herbaceous woodsy scent. The rate given is a bit over 2%. Double check rates for your recipe size at EO Calc.

  • 4 g peppermint essential oil
  • 2.5 g cedarwood (Himalayan or Atlas) essential oil
  • 1 g rosemary essential oil
freshly poured pine resin soap in molds

Directions to make:

If you’ve never made soap before, read through my Soapmaking 101 article and be sure you fully understand the soapmaking process before proceeding.

  1. Put on goggles and gloves.
  2. Weigh the water into a stainless steel or heavy duty plastic container.
  3. Weigh the lye into a small cup.
  4. Sprinkle the lye into the water and stir until dissolved. (Don’t breathe in the temporary, but strong fumes.)
  5. Cool the lye solution in a safe spot for 30 – 40 minutes, or until about 100 to 115 degrees F.
  6. Melt the coconut oil and tallow or cocoa butter (I heat in a small saucepan), then combine with the remaining oils.
  7. Add the rosemary antioxidants (rosemary oleoresin extract/ROE) to the oils, if using.
  8. Pour the cooled lye solution into the warm oils.
  9. Start by hand stirring the soap.
  10. Because of the pine resin, you may find that it thickens to trace with just hand stirring. If not, use brief short pulses of the immersion blender sparingly until soap reaches light trace.
  11. Add essential oil, if using.
  12. Stir until blended.
  13. Pour soap into molds.
  14. Cover lightly with a sheet of wax paper, then something light, like a pillowcase or towel to insulate.
  15. Uncover after 24 hours.
  16. Keep the soaps in their mold for 1 to 2 days or until easy to remove.
  17. Cure the soaps on sheets of wax paper in the open air, turning occasionally, for 4+ weeks before using.

If you run into trouble when making your soap, check out my extensive article, What’s Wrong With My Soap? {troubleshooting cold process soap problems}.

Jan
 

Jan Berry is a writer, herbalist, soapmaker, and bestselling author of The Big Book of Homemade Products, Simple & Natural Soapmaking, and Easy Homemade Melt & Pour Soaps. She lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains with her family and a menagerie of animals, where she enjoys brainstorming creative things to make with the flowers and weeds that grow around her.

  • Barbara Newman says:

    Hi Jan,

    I am in awe of your creative recipes. I have been trying for over a year to use pine pitch in beauty products and it always seems to separate. I use only butters and oils but there’s the telltale sign that it’s separating – almost water/oil things going on even though I haven’t used water. I cannot wait to try to infuse the oil. You are inspirational. Truly in a league of your own. Thank you. I’m so inspired. Thank you, Barb.

  • Kay says:

    Jan I need to thank you whole heartedly. You saved my very bad skin condition(golden staf) I have battled this complaint for 3years, I have had about 50 visits to my doctor, cost a fortune and no results.I found you on pinterest I made your “Old Fashioned Pine Tar Soap” and within a week my skin was 70% improved and the relief was awesome. I use this soap every night in the shower and it is now only a small breakout now and then.
    Jan THANK YOU
    Cheers Kay
    Queensland Australia

  • Jill says:

    My son is severely allergic to animal byproducts and coconut oil. I would like to make him a bar of soap he can use and not break out. Do you have any recipes that I can use. I would be ever so grateful.

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