7 January 2022 / Caitlin Devlin
Birch Tar Essential Oil: History, Uses and Benefits
Smoky birch tar has wonderful benefits for skin and can help to treat infections.
With its unique, smoky scent, birch tar has been linked to both North American and Scandinavian traditional medicine.
The oil was often used to tone skin and promote circulation, and was also chewed to improve oral health. Despite its many benefits – many of which have still only been uncovered over recent years – it is still one of the lesser-known essential oils. Those who do use birch tar oil, however, swear by its strong antiseptic and antibacterial properties, its mollusc-repelling qualities, and its positive effect on the skin.
Birch tar essential oil is antimicrobial.
Due to a large amount of phenol derivatives and terpenoid derivatives in the oil, it has strong antiseptic qualities that allow it to prevent the growth of disease-causing organisms. Furthermore, the presence of the components salicylic acid and methyl salicylate – well known germicides and bactericides – protect the skin from fungal and bacterial infections. For this reason many people have found birch tar essential oil very useful in treating skin diseases such as a eczema and ringworm.
It is important to note that it is much safer not to take birch tar internally, and it should instead by diluted and applied topically to affected areas of the skin, so long as none of those areas are open wounds.
It repels slugs and snails.
Birch tar has also proved effective in repelling molluscs. A study from 2010 showed that birch tar oil could repel slugs and snails from fences and plant pots, and had especially long-lasting effects when mixed with Vaseline. These pest-repelling effects are most likely due to birch tar’s strong and distinctive scent. Using a little birch tar oil in your garden or home can help to keep it free from slugs and snails.
It promotes healthy urination.
Some people believe that the presence of the components betulenol and butylene in the oil allows the birch tar to stimulate urination. Many believe this is good for circulation, and we know that frequent, healthy urination aids bacteria and helps to clear toxins from the body.
It tones skin.
Birch tar oil is often used in skincare products due to its astringent properties. This means that it is able to tighten the skin and reduce the appearance of wrinkles. The addition of a few drops of birch tar oil to a carrier oil or face cream can help skin to appear younger and brighter.
The history and applications of birch tar oil are still quite mysterious – fitting for this exotic, smoky-scented oil. Research is still ongoing, and fans of birch tar oil have been increasingly insistent in the last few years that birch tar’s antimicrobial properties should be fully explored. It’s highly possible that we see birch tar assume a greater role in the world of aromatherapy in years to come.
Shop our birch tar essential oil here.