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Benefits of Birch Tar Soap

The benefits of birch tar have been well known for centuries. Unfortunately, with the advent of the modern cosmetic industry, the benefits of Birch tar have largely been forgotten.  No worries. The Mod Cabin is here to acquaint you with this wonderful natural remedy!

Birch tar is made from the dry distillation of the bark of  Birch trees. This process is old. Really old. There is evidence that people were dry distilling birch tar in what is now Germany 40,000 years ago to make a glue necessary to create weapons for hunting. This article will focus on the uses of birch tar for natural health and healing rather than weapon making.

Birch Trees

Birch Trees

People have benefited from the restorative qualities of birch tar for centuries.  Acne, eczema, seborrhea, psoriasis, dandruff, and itchy skin have all been successfully treated with birch tar, and because of the naturally occurring salicylic acid (an organic plant hormone) and methyl salicylate (an organic ester)  in birch tar, it acts as a natural exfoliator that sloughs off dead skin and tones new skin.  Birch tar is also an excellent diuretic; it is used for body detoxification and cleansing. It helps enhance the body’s blood circulation and prevents toxins from collecting in muscles and skin.  Birch tar can even be applied to small cuts and wounds to prevent infections and speed up the healing process because of it’s disinfectant and antiseptic properties.

Making Birch Tar

Making Birch Tar

I used to have severe eczema breakouts on a regular basis. This is before I knew about the natural healing properties of birch tar. At the time I used common name brand “soaps” that are sold in grocery and drug stores. My doctor at the time, rather than advising me to avoid cleansing products that used synthetic chemicals, prescribed Triamcinolone acetonide; a dangerous steroid cream. Fortunately, when I moved to Colorado I became acquainted with the benefits of using natural cleansing products. I switched out my drug store lotion and soap for lanolin and homemade birch tar soap. I have not had to use steroid cream since!  In fact, I now use our homemade birch tar soap for shaving, as well as bathing. Birch tar soap is very mild making it ideal for shaving. I just get the soap wet, lather it up, and apply it to my skin with my boar bristle shaving brush. When used as a shaving aid, the lather from the birch tar soap helps facial hair stand up straight so your razor can get to it without getting to your skin. And unlike shaving creams, birch tar soap doesn’t contain alcohol or synthetic chemicals that irritate and dry out your skin.

Its important to note that the majority of cleansing products sold in stores under the name soap are not soaps at all. They are more accurately described as synthetic chemical detergents containing synthetic fragrance oils and dyes. Most common store bought “soaps” contain some or all of the following ingredients; imidazolidinyl urea, diazolidinyl,  ethylparaben, methyl, propyl, butyl , propylene glycol, sodium dodecyl sulfate, stearalkonium chloride, triethanolamine as well as synthetic fragrance oils.

These ingredients are all high in toxicity and are the main reason so many people suffer from skin related problems like eczema and psoriasis today. If you wish to avoid synthetic cleansing products, you can either buy all natural soaps from The Mod Cabin or other natural soap makers, or you can make your own.

Birch Tar Soap Bars

The Mod Cabin’s Birch Tar Soap

A lot of people make homemade soaps using what is known as melt and pour bases. These are highly preferable to buying name brand synthetic cleansing agents at the grocery store, but most of them still contain  ingredients like sorbitol, which exacerbates  irritable bowel syndrome and can even cause perforated colonic ulcers,  sorbitan oleate,  and in some cases even triethanolamine, which can cause allergic reactions such as eye irritation, dryness of  hair and skin, and even become toxic if large amounts build up in the body over time.

If you are going to make homemade soap, we highly recommend using either the hot or cold process method. It should be noted however that both methods require the use of lye, which can be dangerous if the necessary precautions are not taken.  Both processes make an excellent bar of soap. We use the hot process method because it retains more of the beneficial birch tar properties, as well as more of the amazing scent, since the birch tar is added after saponification (the chemical process in which the lye and fats react to produce a fatty acid salt – soap)  has occurred.  During cold process soap making the essential oils are added before the chemical process has occurred, which can cook out some of the beneficial properties of the oils.  The hot process method is also what gives our soap it’s rustic appearance. Here is a tutorial for making soap using the hot process method, and here is one for making soap using the cold process method.

If you are uncomfortable handling lye, or would rather not go through the trouble of getting all the ingredients and making the soap yourself, you can always purchase our all natural, hot processed birch tar soap here.  Whatever option you choose – purchasing handmade birch tar soap or making it yourself, we know you’ll love the wonderful, smoky scent and numerous health benefits of all-natural birch tar soap.

Have you made birch tar or birch tar soap?  Tell us about your experience!

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3 Responses to Benefits of Birch Tar Soap

  1. Best anti fungal body soap April 18, 2014 at 5:05 am #

    Thanks for this wonderful post… I believe the best soap for your skin and our planet is all natural ingredient soaps.

    • The Mod Cabin April 19, 2014 at 12:43 pm #

      Thank you! We agree as well. :)

  2. Rob May 28, 2014 at 8:44 am #

    Great article! I will be making some oil today using tin containers, a fire and birch bark that has fallen to the ground.

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