Pine tar, also known as “greenwood” or “sugarcane wood,” is produced by crushing the tough bark of a tree into a fine powder. It’s available in different grades, including tar- and pine-free. It can be used to make everything from soap to jewelry. And thanks to its unique properties, it’s often used for food coloring, or added to food products like marinade, soup or meat to give it a dark red color.
The first time someone tells me they like pine tar, I think they’re going to get sick. I think that first thought is more likely than any other. It’s one of those words that conjures up images of blood, torture, death and suffering. And yet, pine tar – and the products that derive from it – are not inherently harmful.
Why is pine tar so bad for you?
It can be a source of several forms of cancer and heart disease. The World Health Organization has said that pine tar is “probably carcinogenic,” and it’s been linked to the growth of cancerous tumors in rodents.
The tar itself, however, has never been officially linked to cancer, although there’s reason to worry. Pine tar is made by rubbing the bark, not crushing, with a metal called a charcoal, which has a tendency to attract metal particles and oxidize them. This is bad news when you’re trying to create something that can pass through the digestive system, such as paint.
And while it’s not poisonous, it can leave you in danger if it’s ingested by your animals, or if it’s on your hands or clothing.
How do I use pine tar?
As with all oils, you can use pine tar for most purposes. You can use it as a fuel, to treat your body for any wound or burn, or as a coloring for clothing and food. But there are certain uses in particular that are especially problematic:
What’s the best way to store pine tar?
Since pine tar is also used for other things besides coloring fabrics, the best place to store it is in a place where it won’t get lost or destroyed. Pine tar should be kept out of your back yard, out of direct sunlight and at or below freezing.
When stored in the right condition, pine tar should last for more than three years. (You can store it for up to four, but the quality of the product and the way that it is
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