Pine tar is a liquid distilled from the wood of various pine relatives. Traditionally, pine roots and stumps are burned slowly to extract a thick liquid. Pine tar has a strong smell, which can make some people reluctant to use it. However, it's still a helpful product for people in industries as varied as soap making and construction. Pine tar can be purchased from many different kinds of retailers, including sporting goods suppliers, veterinary supply companies and specialty woodworking suppliers.
Commercially, pine tar comes in a number of grades and types. When purchased as a grip aid for baseball bats, it tends to come in liquid form, and is often packaged as a spray. Pine tar for construction use is packaged in buckets. It comes in both light and dark varieties, depending on the desired color of the finished wood. Kiln burn pine tar includes low pitch content and high resin content. It is considered a very pure type, and is significantly more expensive than lower grades. Pine tar sold for veterinary use is usually more pure than construction pine tar.
Size and Price
This material is sold in several different package sizes, depending on the intended use. The price does not always correspond directly with the amount of pine tar purchased. For instance, as of 2010 and according to the Petware website, 475 ml of veterinary pine tar costs $7.50. Eight ounces of baseball pine tar spray is $4.99, while one liter of construction pine tar costs $27.50.
Pine tar works as a preservative on cut wood, such as outdoor furniture, roofs, ropes, decks and boats and requires few or no solvents, depending on the project. It has relatively low toxicity, making it a useful product for packing horses' hooves and sealing wounds on trees. Pine tar is even used in soaps and ointments to treat skin problems. It's a renewable resource with relatively low environmental impact. Since pine tar has been used for hundreds of years, purchasers know it's reliable and unlikely to hold any surprises.
This substance can be hard to find in local stores, since it has fallen out of popular use. Large chain retailers rarely carry this product in quantity. It may be necessary to order pine tar online, or visit a specialty supplier, especially when large amounts are needed. This can significantly raise the cost of working with the material. Consumers in search of pine tar may need to spend a little time talking to traditional woodworkers and others who know where to buy this product.
According to Noxudol, Swedish Cultural Management recommends use of pine tar as a preservative treatment on antique buildings such as stave churches. Unlike many modern preservative treatments, pine tar is an historically appropriate product for these types of buildings, and is unlikely to cause damage or unexpected side effects.