Pine Tar Soap Recipe

Old Fashioned Pine Tar Soap (Palm Free)


Yesterday, I shared a link to an old fashioned black pine tar salve recipe that I wrote about on HobbyFarms.com. (The link is HERE, if you missed it.)

By request, I’m sharing the recipe & directions for making pine tar soap as well. In the past, this soap was reputed to help with psoriasis, eczema, and other skin afflictions. I’ve also heard of people using it for treating flaky scalp and dandruff. Some years back, the FDA stepped in and “unapproved” pine tar as a health treatment. So, if you plan to sell Pine Tar Soap, steer clear of making any health claims.

Another important thing to note is that some types of pine tar may contain small amounts of creosote, depending on if it’s burned in an open or closed kiln. (Closed kiln is the creosote free type you want to look for.) One popular brand for soaps and salves is Auson, though it’s quite pricey because it’s imported.

(This article may contains affiliate links to Mountain Rose Herbs, Bramble Berry and Amazon. If you click on one and make a purchase, I earn a small commission for sending a customer their way. This costs you nothing extra, but helps support this website and lets me keep doing what I do. Thank you!)

curing pine tar soap bars

Old Fashioned Pine Tar Soap

Liquid & Lye Portion:

Oil & Pine Tar Portion (30 ounces total):

This recipe includes 30 oz oil + 10 oz water + (almost) 4 oz lye so equals 44 oz (or 2 lbs 12 oz), meaning you’d need around a 3 pound mold.
The mold I used is a homemade wooden one – inner dimensions are 8″ x 3.5″ x 3.5″

If you’ve never made soap before, you can find more information in my Soap Making 101 post (HERE) or check out my Natural Soap Making eBook & package (HERE).

Natural-Soap-Making-eBook

Pine tar soap is different than many others in that it sets up FAST. You don’t want to use your stick blender for this recipe. You should have everything organized and the mold prepared before you start mixing.

Another thing to remember when creating your own recipe with pine tar, you should include it in the lye calculations as you would another oil.

Step 1.

Stir the 1 teaspoon of salt into the cold water. This is to help the soap release from the mold easier and is especially helpful if you’re using silicone molds. Once the salt is stirred in, pour in the lye. Make sure you’re wearing proper safety gear of goggles, long sleeves & gloves. This mixture gets hot fast and for a few moments will give off strong fumes that you should avoid breathing in.

Step 2.

Set the lye solution aside to cool. I left mine sitting for several hours until it reached room temperature. (In my house, that’s around 80 degrees F.) Normally, I work with higher temperatures, but pine tar soap needs cooler ones than normal, to help prevent it from setting up too fast.

Step 3.

While the lye is cooling: Prepare your mold and measure the oils in a stainless steel, heat proof plastic, or enamel container. (I used the liner of an old crockpot.) Melt the coconut oil just until it turns liquid and mix with the other oils. Set the oils aside until ready to mix. (They can be around room temperature/80 degrees Fahrenheit too.)

Step 4.

When you’re ready to make your soap, add the pine tar to the oils and stir until blended.

Step 5.

Pour in the lye solution and stir with a heavy duty plastic or silicone spoon or spatula. You’ll notice the soap batter get thicker fairly quickly. Within four or five minutes of hand stirring, my soap batter looked like this:

Photo of Pine Tar Soap Batter At Trace

Step 6.

Pour the thickened soap batter into the mold and set aside. You don’t need to cover or insulate this soap.

Step 7.

In 48 hours, you can try unmolding. Pine tar soap starts off a little soft but firms up as it cures in the air. If you added salt to the lye water, it should unmold a lot easier for you than if you didn’t.

Step 8.

Slice into bars and let cure for at least four to six weeks.

 

If you enjoyed this Circling Taiwan Soap (with Activated Charcoal) recipe, be sure to sign up for my newsletter HERE to get my best herbal projects, soap ideas, and DIY body care recipes sent straight to your inbox, once per month. (No spam ever, unsubscribe at any time.)

You  may also like:

Cucumber Soap | Goldenrod Soap | Dandelion Soap

Palm Free Cucumber Soap Recipe  Goldenrod Cold Process Soap Recipe  Dandelion and Raw Honey Soap Recipe

 

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70 Responses to Pine Tar Soap Recipe

  1. brenda says:

    I have read this twice, but I still have to ask to make sure i didn’t miss something. Do you let the lye cool completely and don’t heat the oils except to mix and then let them cool back down again? Everything is cold when you mix it together?

    • Jan says:

      Hi Brenda, You read exactly right! The lye and oils were both at room temperature when I mixed this. (Granted, with no central air – room temperature in my kitchen is around 80 degrees F, so you don’t want the lye water *too* cold.) Great question – thanks for asking that! I’ll try to go in tonight and clarify the wording.

  2. brenda says:

    Thank You for the reply. I am going to try this recipe.

  3. rosa says:

    Hi Jan

    Ty 4 sharing this. Please, can you tell me if it is possible replace castor oïl for another vegetal oïl?

    Regards
    Rosa

  4. Sheron Brewer says:

    Hello Jan! When I lived in “the middle of no where” I made salve from the pine resin that bubbled and dripped from the various pine trees in my yard, great for wounds and rashes. Can you tell me how to get the pine tar? Looks like it is a purchased and not gathered item? Thank you! Have a nice weekend!

    • Jan says:

      Hi Sheron, Right from the tree is an even better way to use pine! Pine tar is made from burning pine wood and maybe the stumps, I think?, in a kiln. You can buy it from your local feed store in the horse section (it’s used to treat hooves) or online at amazon.com. It’s thick, blackish-brown, and rather pungent. Some people love the smell, some dislike it – I think it’s a personal preference thing, like cilantro. :) I hope you have a nice weekend too!

  5. Susan Maguire says:

    Thank you Brenda. Always looking for “the old ways”. I live down South and I hear of these things that worked so well before everyone ran off to Doctor’s Care. Happy to try this. I wonder if there is a book on the old cures. Have to look. Thanks again. Cute blog.

    • Jan says:

      Thanks Susan! I would love to find a book on old cures as well. I have one that was my great-grandma’s that has a few recipes; I need to dig around for more!

  6. Rachel says:

    Jan, is this about 2 pounds? I’m still learning this stuff, and I’m going on a recipe from another book that uses about 30 ounces of oils…roughly 1.8 pds, am I close…thank you…

    • Jan says:

      Hi Rachel! The way I use to figure out how many pounds a batch of soap is, is by adding the weights of the lye, water & oils together (and in this case, pine tar too.) I round the numbers since it makes it easier, which gives us: (almost) 4 ounces lye + 10 ounces water + 30 ounces oils/pine tar = 44 ounces total. Divide that by 16 ounces in a pound and you get 2.75 or two & three-fourths pounds. So, you would want to use a three pound mold in order for it to fit.

  7. Rose says:

    What do you use to clean your containers after making pine tar soap?

    • Jan says:

      Hi Rose! By weighing the pine tar directly into the oils (with the soap pot sitting on the scale) and then stirring in, I didn’t find it any harder to clean than other soap batches. I did use a disposable plastic spoon to help guide the amount being poured, so I could hit the correct weight. I set that down on a piece of wax paper then folded it up and around to throw away once everything was mixed and poured. For soap pot clean up, I usually set the pan and utensils aside in a safe spot for a day or two. The raw soap will have cured enough not to be a danger to drains, and the pot and utensils can then be soaked in warm water for a few hours before draining and rinsing out any residue.

  8. Debbie says:

    What if I want to make a liquid pine tar soap. Is this possible?

  9. Christa says:

    Does the finished product have much of a smell to it? I just received my quart can of Auson pine tar in the mail, and am looking forward to trying this recipe.

    • Jan says:

      Hi Christa! The cured bars do smell like pine tar. It’s not unpleasantly strong or anything, but it’s very noticeable. I have one kid that detests the smell and an older relative that thinks it’s the best thing ever. :) Good luck with your recipe!

  10. Regina says:

    Have you tried this hot process? Also, can I add a few tbspns of ground oatmeal to this since it is supposed to be good for eczema too? Thanks!

    • Jan says:

      Hi Regina, I haven’t tried this hot process, though I know you can, with some adjustments. I once heard from a lady who mixed the pine tar with some water and stirred it in well after cook time until the soap batter was smooth. I don’t have any further details of her recipe other than that, but I hope that helps if you experiment with it. Ground oatmeal sounds like a great addition!

  11. Regina says:

    Also, on the lye calculator, there is no place to put the pine tar. So, how would I calculate the recipe correctly? I’m in the process right now, and ended up almost adding too much castor oil. I saw the 7.5 coconut oil, and so was on my way, luckily my bottle ran out at 2 oz. Of castor oil…

  12. Barbara Palulis says:

    what size mold holds this recipe?

    • Jan says:

      Hi Barbara! To figure out what size mold you need for a recipe, you can add the weight of the water + lye + oils (counting pine tar in this case).
      So, 10 oz water + almost 4 oz (rounding) lye + 30 oz oils and pine tar = 44 oz total or 2.75 pounds, so for this recipe, you could use a 3 pound mold.
      With recipes that have around 30 ounces of just oil in them, I also sometimes use a glass bread loaf pan (9″x 5″ or 8.5″ x 4.5″) lined with parchment paper or a cheap unscented trash bag.

  13. John says:

    Does the pine tar leave any scent behind on your equipment or does it clean up easy w/o tainting future batches?

    • Jan says:

      Hi John! While the finished soap smells quite a bit like pine tar, I didn’t find that it lingered on the equipment for long. I just washed everything as usual – let pots/utensils sit for a day or two, soaked them in warm water, then rinsed well. I used a wooden mold lined with parchment paper though, so I’m not sure what it would do to a silicone mold. Not sure I would chance that, since I’ve had some stronger essential oil scents hang around those for a few batches.

  14. Darla Fischer says:

    Jan, thank you for sharing your recipe! I want to give it a try but am wondering what percentage do you SF at?
    Again..thank you!

  15. regina kennedy says:

    Hi, I made your pine tar soap a few months ago, and it was very soft. Since then, I discovered just coconut oil soap, water, and lye is so wonderful! I know I could use the lye calculator, but was wondering if you know how this soap might come out if I used coconut oil in place of the olive oil, or any of the other oils?

    • Hi Regina! The pine tar soap does start off soft at first, but should harden as it cures over time. It is quite high in olive oil though and I really like your idea of merging a pure coconut oil soap with a pine tar soap! My only thought with that is that both of those tend to set up really fast. So, if you combine the two, use a full amount of water and be prepared to work super quickly, so it won’t seize up on you. I think if you changed the recipe to 27 oz coconut oil and 3 oz pine tar that might be a good ratio. I would still stick with the higher superfat that coconut oil soap needs too. Since you probably will just need to hand stir the batch, you could even half that recipe, just to give it a test run. What a wonderful idea – let me know how it goes if you test it out!

  16. Wayland says:

    can it be made in to cream soap

  17. Pingback: Trementina. The Power of Pine Pitch Resin. | wildlettucegal's Blog

  18. Keely says:

    Hi. Thank you for the recipe, and the link to buy pine tar. I love your soap recipes and I think you have the BEST soap pictures on the Internet! They are gorgeous! My soaping buddy and I are going to try this recipe soon.

  19. Brian Ziff says:

    Pardon my ignorance – I’ve never made soap before and want to try pine tar, as I love it. Are your measurements in the ingredients list volume or weight measurements? How large of a loaf will this make, in other words, what size mold would I need it I followed it exactly? Finally, if I add essential soils, do I need to reduce any of the other oils by a similar amount?

    Thank you, I look forward to hearing from you!

    B.

    • Hi Brian!

      All soap recipe measurements are given by weight. You’ll need a digital scale (you can pick one up fairly inexpensively at your local store that sells kitchenware items.)

      To figure out what size mold you’ll need, you add the weight of the oils, lye and liquid together. (Round any odd numbers for easier adding.)
      So, in this recipe:
      30 oz oil + 10 oz water + (almost) 4 oz lye = 44 oz
      which = 2 lbs 12 oz
      So, you’d want around a 3 pound mold, if you’re looking to buy one online.
      The mold I used is a homemade wooden one – inner dimensions are 8″ x 3.5″ x 3.5″
      You could also use a really sturdy (kind of skinny) shoe box or an empty milk carton or a plastic storage container. Make sure you line non-silicone molds with parchment or freezer paper (or an unscented trash bag works out too.)

      You won’t need to adjust the amount of oils, if you add essential oils to the recipe. A good ballpark figure is starting with 1 to 2 tablespoons (15 to 30 ml) of essential oil, but you can also use Bramble Berry’s fragrance calculator:
      http://www.brambleberry.com/pages/Fragrance-Calculator.aspx

      Pine tar soap is going to set up A LOT faster than regular soap, so it’s a bit of a tricky one to start out with, but as long as you have everything prepared and ready to go, it should turn out great!

      Good luck and let me know how it turns out!

  20. Julie says:

    Hello Jan! Do you think I could add Pine EO to the recipe or would it be too potent? I was thinking maybe 2 tbsp.

    • Hi Julie! The scent alone of the pine tar is pretty strong. I had to move it to a separate room, since it was a bit overwhelming at first. I’ve heard of people adding lavender essential oil though, so there’s a good chance that the pine EO could complement the pine tar scent. Once it cures, the strong smell settles down. (My bars that are about 1 1/2 years old now smell divine & still work great!) If you try it out, let us know how it goes!

  21. Pam says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this recipe. My elbows look human again after being covered in scales and cracks for YEARS.

  22. Natalie says:

    I have a dumb question. I have had terrible eczema for years, and so has my daughter so I really want to try the pine tar recipe.. But I also seem to always have an allergic reaction to pine sap (terrible rashes on my arms and fingers after years of cutting down, decorating, cleaning up after, and Un-decorating Christmas trees lead me to this realization). I know the pine tar is made from burning the wood… I was just wonder on how much of the components of the sap might make it through that process. I can work with pine wood in crafting and it doesn’t bother me so I am just wondering what the chances are here and what your thoughts might be

    • Hi Natalie, That’s a great question! I too have broken out in hives from decorating Christmas trees, since I was just a little kid. (I also have a huge allergy to cedar – just opening my cedar chest drives me to the Benadryl!) You know though, I totally didn’t even think of that when I was making the pine tar soap. Fortunately, it didn’t seem to bother me any and I’ve used the soap with no problem either. However, that might not be true for everyone so you might want to do something like buy a ready made bar and do a small spot test, before investing in the materials to make your own. (Pine tar is pretty pricey.) Thanks for thinking of that excellent point!

  23. Patrick says:

    Hello! I made your soap, and replaced olive oil with lard, and castor oil with pine needle essential oil (fairly cheap at $6 for 4oz) and it turned out great! The soap is very firm and solid, but not brittle, and the lather is fantastic. My skin is also very smooth and soft after my shower, and it’s a great shampoo too! Call me old fashioned, but lard is my favorite fat to use in soap.
    Thanks for the recipe!

    • Hi Patrick, I’m so happy that you like the soap! Lard sounds great. I have a ton in my freezer from our pastured pigs that I just need to render for soap soon & I’ll have to try a pine tar soap with it!
      One note is that essential oils aren’t interchangeable with soap making oils, so normally you shouldn’t replace a regular oil in a recipe with an essential oil. Too many EOs can make your soap irritating, but fortunately, it sounds like you didn’t put too much!

  24. Patrick says:

    Oh, and I smell like a woodsman all day :) I get compliments from people pretty regularly.

  25. michelle says:

    Hello, I am very excited to try your pine tar soap recipe. I’m just waiting on my pine tar that I ordered on Amazon, and now that people at church know that I make soap, and other natural products, I get questions about what I would recommend for different skin issues. So I will be adding this to my soap arsenal, also keeping in mind not to advertise it’s beneficial qualities..😉

  26. Jimbo says:

    “To figure out what size mold you’ll need, you add the weight of the oils, lye and liquid together. (Round any odd numbers for easier adding.)
    So, in this recipe:
    30 oz oil + 10 oz water + (almost) 4 oz lye = 44 oz
    which = 2 lbs 12 oz
    So, you’d want around a 3 pound mold, if you’re looking to buy one online.”

    Hey your ingredients are measured by volume (ounces) and then you switched to weight. This doesn’t add up.

    • Hi Jimbo! All soap ingredients – oils, water and lye – should be measured by weight, not volume. So, for example, the 30 ounces of oil are ounces that are measured out by weight using an accurate scale, and not fluid ounces.

  27. Jan, my May question has been “waiting moderation” for 6 weeks, I don’t know what that means…..
    Do you have a thought about the horse grade vs cosmetic grade pine tar?
    Appreciate your recipes and the comment section!
    Patricia

    • Hi Patricia, I’m so sorry about that! I just found a slew of comments from the middle of May that I missed seeing! I really appreciate you stopping back by to let me know so I could find those to answer. My apologies for the delayed response!
      Something I’ve found with most pine tar suppliers is that they aren’t going to directly tell you that it’s safe for making soap, because their product is veterinary in nature & hasn’t been tested/approved for human use. So, I understand them being cautious and needing to protect themselves legally.
      From a personal standpoint, after reading about so many people using Bickmore pine tar for soap making (in spite of the company not recommending it for human use) & that the majority of studies done on creosote was done studying coal tar, not pine tar, I tried it out myself.
      The plus side is that it’s a way better price and I can run down to my local Tractor Supply store and grab some any time I need it. It worked beautifully in soap and we’ve used up all but 1 1/2 bars to date from that batch with no problems.
      If I sold my soap, I’d go with the cosmetic grade. But, after reading more and trying it out, I feel comfortable using horse grade pine tar to make soap for use at home, especially since I mainly use this soap for bathing my dogs. (It’s excellent at repelling fleas & ticks!)
      I can’t widely or officially recommend that though (not sure on the legalities of that); so that’s just an update of something I tried out for my own personal use. :)

  28. Columbcille says:

    Hello! I’ve been trying to reproduce the smell from grandpa’s pine tar which I love, I have been using brickworks pine tar and now belief this is the factor. I’m curious if you’ve ever had grandpa’s brand or if the sisi you make has that campfire smell?

    • Hi Columbcille! I haven’t had the chance to smell Grandpa’s Pine Tar Soap to know for sure what its scent is, but you very well could be right about the type of pine tar used may affect the final smell!
      Looking at Grandpa’s brand – their site says it’s made from “pinus palustris wood tar” – which is a long leaf pine. That sounds pretty specific compared to the other two I looked at.
      Whereas Bickmore’s site says: “Our pine tar is produced in closed tanks, not kilns and is made from a blended product of a variety of different pines.”
      Auson’s pine tar just says: “Genuine Pine Tar is produced from resinous pine wood. It contains all ingredients of rosin and fatty acids and their conversion products such as rosin oil, oxidized acids, esters, highboiling terpenes and fatty alcohols, etc, which characterizes a pine tar of high quality.”
      Do you have a link to the Brickwork’s Pine Tar that you’ve been using? I don’t spot it right off to see if I can find out what type of pine they use to compare.

  29. Mary says:

    Hi Jan, Have you made a different type of bar soap with an already existing bar of pine tar soap? I’m thinking maybe shred the pine tar soap and add the shavings to a goat milk CP recipe with a complimenting EO, kind of like a Christmas partial rebatch soap? Or, rebatch the existing pine tar with an existing goat milk bar to help cut the strong pine smell? Do you recommend a complimentary EO for the pine scent?

  30. Kelly Allhands says:

    We made the mistake of buying the non kiln burned pine tar and made soap. Everyone loves. Now we’re concerned because we see your recipe and your soap is much lighter in color. People are asking for a 20% pine Tar Soap that is more moisturizing. Any idea how to calc this?

    • Hi Kelly! Every time I’ve made pine tar soap, it turns out a different color. I suspect that it may have to do with the natural variations that happen in nature-sourced products like pine tar.
      After I wrote this article, I later made a batch using Bickmore pine tar (in spite of the company not recommending it for human use) because I’ve seen that several other soapmakers used it in the past too. It worked out very well too!
      If you want to adjust the recipe, you can put the numbers back through the lye calculator at Bramble Berry, only maybe try using a 6% superfat.
      https://www.brambleberry.com/pages/lye-calculator.aspx
      Beside the pine tar entry, put 6 ounces (20%), instead of 3 ounces (10%) and remove 3 ounces from the olive oil (making it 15 oz total) to balance out the 3 ounces of pine tar added.
      So it would now read:
      15 oz olive oil
      7.5 oz coconut oil
      1.5 oz castor oil
      6 oz pine tar
      You could also try reducing the coconut oil by 1 ounce (since coconut oil can be more drying than other oils) and replace it with 1 ounce of a nourishing oil like hemp, avocado, jojoba, sweet almond or apricot kernel.
      Just input your new numbers into the Bramble Berry lye calculator so you’ll have the proper lye amount.
      Also, I’m not 100% positive how the soap will behave with that high of an amount of pine tar, so not exactly sure what will happen! Hoping it works out well for you though!

  31. Just wondering if you can hot process this soap? I would like to try it and would you add the pine tar in At the end when your soap cools? What would I have to do different?

  32. Matt says:

    I tried your recipe yesterday and everything seems to be going well. This is my first try at soapmaking. Wondering if you could add oatmeal to this recipe? I’m trying to replicate one that I received as a gift and that had a little bits of oatmeal in it.

    • Hi Matt, I’m glad to hear your soap is going well! Oatmeal would make a great addition to this recipe. I would grind up around 1 tablespoon of rolled oats with a coffee grinder and stir the resulting powder in at trace or before pouring into the mold.

      • Matt says:

        Thanks Jan – one more question: I’ve been interested in gelling to achieve a translucent effect. Is there any reason not to try that with your recipe?

        • Hi Matt! You can definitely gel this recipe, just keep an eye on it for overheating. If it starts developing a crack down the middle, then move it to a cooler spot or in front of a fan, but otherwise, it shouldn’t be a problem! :)

  33. Elif says:

    Hi Jan,
    Your recipes are wonderful and thanks a lot for sharing them with us :)
    I have juniper tar on hand and would like to make juniper tar soap. Even I searched so much, I could not find the saponification number of juniper tar. I asked Brambleberry and other soap calculater web sites; but, no result. As an expert, I believe you may have an idea about this or where I can get this info from:) could you pls help me on this?
    thanks & warm regards,
    elif

    • Hi Elif! Happy you like the recipes! :) I’ve not seen a SAP number for juniper tar before, but recall reading that it’s potentially carcinogenic, so that could be why no one publishes the information for it. (Maybe there are liability issues surrounding it??)
      My information may be incorrect, this is just going from a list I read here:
      http://www.soapmakingforum.com/showthread.php?t=38652
      and a few studies on PubMed like this one:
      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2299199
      Also, there might be a difference in whether it’s treated/purified since it seems the crude oil is the issue.
      I think juniper tar sounds like a lovely ingredient in theory, but I’m just not familiar enough with it to know its safety or how to use it. I wish I could help more! If I find out further information, I’ll update!

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