Some Amazing Stuff About Pitch Pine!
Here at Online Door Store we have some amazingly beautiful Pitch Pine doors. But the timber itself has some amazing properties too and a rich history which we’d like to share with you. Here’s a few facts about pitch pine which you may not know, fascinating stuff to share around the dinner table.
- The botanical name is Pinus Rigida and the tree is a native of eastern North America. And as its Latin name suggests, it is ‘rigid’, particularly strong and durable. Ideal for doors for example!
- The native American tribes, Iroquois, Shinnecock, and Cherokee all utilized pitch pine.
- The Iroquois used the pitch to treat rheumatism, burns, cuts, and boils. Also pitch also worked as a laxative. Both the Iroquois and the Shinnecock used it to open boils and to treat abscesses. The Cherokee used pitch pine wood in canoe construction and for decorative carvings.
- The tree is now widely spread across the world and is reported by the IUCN as being a species of least concern regarding sustainability.
- Although classed as a soft wood it is really a hard wood as it is very strong. Pitch pine is highly adaptable and can re-grow with ease if it is fire-damaged or cut. And the name pitch is relevant as the tree has long been used to produce pitch (resin, tar, or bitumen) for industry.
- High resin content in this species gave the name “pitch pine”. Early American settlers would often ignite the pitch pine knots on the end of staffs for torches.
- Pitch is the sticky, resinous, black or dark brown substance left as a residue after the distillation of wood tar for turpentine. Pitch pine is very ’oily’ making a fabulous source of this wood tar.
- Three guesses as to where the term ‘pitch-black’ comes from…
- Traditionally, pitch came into its own for waterproofing buckets, barrels and small boats.
- Pitch was also used to make cutlers’ resin. This is a kind of hard setting glue made of pine pitch, beeswax, and sawdust used for centuries to attach knife handles to their blades.
- The wood tar or resin was distilled to make turpentine. Turpentine has a wide range of uses including as a solvent for waxes, for making varnish, medicines etc.
- The substance left after the turpentine is removed is called rosin. People made sealing wax and varnish from rosin. And it is still a favourite of violinists to use on their bows.
- The timber itself is straight grained with a medium texture. It can grow up to 15 metres high and one metre wide. The end grain has large resin canals, numerous and evenly distributed.
- Because of its high resin content, the decay-resistant wood was later popular for ship building, mine props, railroad ties, and fencing.
- Pitch pine grows well on acidic, sandy slopes, in north America this was where they found rich deposits of iron ore. Iron ore was transformed into iron by melting it to remove impurities. The resinous pitch pine proved perfect as a source of charcoal for the smelting of the ore.
- It is a very stable wood. It has a very distinctive reddish brown colour, often seen in the pitch pine doors from the 1920’s and 1930’s .
- After forest fires pitch pines would often form stunted, twisted trees with multiple trunks because of the re-sprouting. This makes it a popular species for Bonsai, the Japanese art of growing small trees in containers that mimic the shape and scale of full size trees.
Well I never….
If you fancy a door with a bit of character, history, some substance to it, just get in touch…..we’d love to introduce you to our Amazing Pitch Pine Doors.
Call us on 01132 234898 or fill out the handy contact form.