Guest post by Jenny Lamb of The Last Frontier Blog
It’s easy to make spruce pitch salve and oil. There are no pine trees in our area, but if that’s what you have, then you can substitute it for spruce, and make Pine Salve. Spruce pitch (and pine) has many wonderful uses, and is one of those little things I wouldn’t want to be without in the woods. I first discovered its value after an insect bite that wouldn’t stop itching. I smeared on a little spruce pitch, and within minutes the itching, swelling and redness were gone. I’ve since used spruce pitch salve and oil for many things:
How to Make Spruce Pitch Salve and Oil
About ten years ago, I was peeling the inner bark of a spruce tree to make a basket and came upon a large pitch pocket. I wondered if I could make a salve from it. That would be much handier than finding a drippy spruce tree and scraping the pitch every time I needed it. I’m always on the lookout for medicinal plants.
To make spruce pitch oil and salve, just find some pitch dripping from a tree, or some saturated bark on a limb or dead tree. If you have bark beetles, that shouldn’t be a problem. Scrape off some pitch or saturated bark, place it in a jar and cover with an edible oil. I like olive oil, but you could use any vegetable oil, including oils that are solid at room temperature such as coconut or palm oil. Even rendered animal fats work. If using a solid oil or fat, melt it over low heat before adding the pitch. It’s best to avoid collecting the pitch in wet weather.
Once you have collected your pitch and covered it with oil or melted fat, replace the lid and keep the jar in a warm spot. If you have a sunny window, that’s a great place to let it brew. I keep it on the warming shelf of my woodburning cookstove for a few weeks during the winter. Try to remember to shake the jar daily, at least for the first week. As the pitch dissolves and is extracted from the bark, you should notice the scent getting stronger. After a couple of weeks or more, strain through several layers of cheesecloth, a paper towel or disposable coffee filter.
It’s now ready to use. I keep the oil in a little squirt bottle. Salve is more convenient for a backpack, first aid kid, or in your bags while traveling. To make salve, pour the infused oil into a pan and add 1 ½ to 2 Tbsp. of beeswax per cup of oil. Over very low heat, stir and melt the wax. Now, pour into a clean jar or a tin, and allow to cool and solidify before closing the lid. If it’s too thin, melt again and add a little more beeswax. If it’s too hard, melt with a little more infused oil.
That’s it. To make your load lighter if you don’t want to pack around a jar or tin, you can scoop a little salve into a small zip lock plastic bag and place it in your survival kit or first aid kit. I hope this is helpful.