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By October 15, 2011 Read More →

Pine Trees for survival

The “Pine Tree” can quite arguably be considered the Survivalists (and Preppers) number one friend in the forest. Not only can every part of this highly versatile king of the woods be used, but those uses can range anywhere from shelter and heat to food and medicinal purposes, and even some less well known uses like glue and gum! We are fortunate that so many forested areas of our country contain varieties of this majestic friend from the towering sugar pines and ponderosas in the west, the pinyon in the southwest, the loblolly in the southeast, the eastern white pine in the northeast, and many more. All told, there are between 105 and 125 species worldwide, a third of which are right here in the U.S!

Let’s take a look at an overview of the different parts of the pine tree and see what uses those parts can serve. (We will look more in depth at each part in subsequent articles.)

Pine Needles
Pine needles vary greatly in size depending on the variety of tree, but for the most part you can take advantage of many of the uses below no matter what variety you have available.

  • As a mulch or as a compost. (While pine needles will help make alkaline soils more acidic, despite popular myths, pine needles won’t make your soil nearly as acidic as you might think). They are not poisonous, and they will last about 2 years as a mulch
  • Baskets and Rugs. The longer varieties of pine needles are excellent for braiding or weaving with thread or long grasses in order to make baskets, rugs, and could even make a long term survival blanket in a wilderness shelter.
  • Starting fires. Dry pine needles are excellent for starting fires. They burn fast and hot and can help ignite larger sticks and pieces of wood.
  • Tea. The needles from most  pine tree varieties can be used to make tea rich in vitamin C.  (however, it must be noted that large quantities of pine needles have been known to cause miscarriages in livestock)
  • Survival Shelter roofing. Pine needles are great as a roof covering for your survival shelter. (of course be cautious of the fire hazard, especially with dry needles)
  • Animal bedding
  • Pillows and Mattresses. Another great use for a survival shelter. The needles have been known to help repel fleas and other insects.

Bark
Pine bark also has many uses. Some of these include:

  • Mulch
  • Pine bark extract. antioxidant and anti-inflammatory uses
  • Food. The inner bark can be eaten. Excellent to know in a SHTF survival situation.
  • Water filtration

Pine Sap
You would be surprised at the number and types of uses for pine sap, some of these include:

  • Turpentine. Pine sap can be distilled to make turpentine.  Which of course has many uses as well, including but not limited to, as a solvent, a cleaner, a lubricant, and medicinal purposes.
  • Gum.  Pine sap can be chewed like gum and will actually clean your teeth. It can also be used as a temporary filling for a toothache.
  • Starting fires. Pine sap is flammable and is great for starting fires.
  • As a candle. Use pine sap on sticks to make candles.
  • Medicinal uses. Pine sap can be used to seal wounds and has been used for its antibacterial properties.
  • Glue. Excellent uses for adhesives and as waterproof sealant
  • Flavoring.

Male pine cone flower
An excellent source of protein, the pollen from the male pine cone flower can be used to thicken stews or as a flower substitute.

Pine nuts
The nuts are edible and actually quite tasty.  Many recipes can be found on the web.

Pine cones
In addition to ornamental purposes, pine cones can also serve some uses in survival situations.

  • As a fishing bobber. You can use a pine cone as a bobber when fishing.
  • As a bird feeder. Take a mixture of cornmeal, shortening and bird seed and fill and cover the pine cone with it. Hang the pine cone to attract birds.
  • As a fire starter. Fill the pine cone with sap and use it to get your fire started.

Wood
Don’t forget the wood!  This is of course, is the most well known and most versatile part of the pine tree and has virtually unlimited number of uses including heat, construction, furniture, paper, tools, handles, and just about anything that you can think of that is made of wood.  But did you know about it’s water retention properties? The wood can be used in your garden to store rain water.  When buried below your garden in the soil, it will absorb the rain water like a sponge and continue to water your vegetables for weeks and sometimes even months.  This method is known as hugelkultur, and while a topic for another article, it’s something definitely worth getting into.

As you can tell, the uses for pine trees are so numerous and there is so much detail that I could get into that it’s not possible to cover everything in a single article. Therefore, I will cover each section more in depth in articles to follow, so keep checking back.


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