4 Best Uses for Turpentine

Turpentine is a yellowish volatile liquid produced via the distillation of resins from trees, particularly conifers. The name was derived from the Greek word terebinthe, which was the name of the tree that was widely used as source for resins back in the early days. At present, the top sources of resins used in turpentine production include ponderosa pine, aleppo pine, and maritime pine. Here are some of the best ways of using this thin fluid.

Remember that turpentine is flammable and in some cases toxic, so be sure to consult safety tips (and if using it on your body, your doctor) before using it.


The popularity of turpentine in modern times has soared because it is used as an industrial solvent. This fluid is often applied as thinner for paints and varnishes. Because of its strong cleaning properties, it is also effective in removing oil and acrylic based paints, varnishes, tar, and tree sap residues. When mixed with carnuba or beeswax, this solvent is an effective wax for wood furniture and surfaces. However, the noxious odor of this substance compels many people to use cheaper substitutes such as turpenoid and mineral spirits, which can both work just like turpentine but without the harsh smell.

Raw Material for Chemical Compounds

Many chemical compounds like linalool, camphor, geraniol, and alpha-terpineol are commercially produced these days. All these compounds contain beta-pinene, camphene, alpha-pinene and rosins which, in turn, are major components of turpentine. Another important application of this volatile liquid is in the manufacture of polyterpene resin. It is also worth noting that derivatives of this liquid are also added in many fragrances and flavor agents. Due to the antiseptic properties of turpentine oil, it can be found in many sanitary and cleaning products, such as disinfectants, cleansing agents, and other products with pine scents.

Alternative Lamp Fuel

In the absence of gas or oil, turpentine can be used in burning lamps. In modern times, when plenty of commercial lamp oils are cheap and readily available, turpentine should not be used in burning lamps. Back in the early 1800’s, this fluid was the preferred alternative to the more expensive whale oil. However, due to the strong vapors produced by burning this liquid, it should only be used for lamps used outdoors. Otherwise, you may risk fire in your home.

Ingredient in Herbal Remedies

In ancient times, this substance was used to treat several health problems and diseases. One of its main applications was for the treatment and prevention of lice infestations. When mixed with animal fat, this volatile liquid was also utilized as a chest rub to alleviate simple throat and nasal problems such as colds and sore throat. In fact, many chest rub compounds today still contain this substance. It is also used as a component for some topical ointments designed to alleviate muscle pains and rheumatic disorders.

Although many people in the past administered this volatile liquid internally, particularly in treating intestinal parasites, toothaches, and symptoms of cough and colds, modern studies have shown that taking or drinking this substance can be toxic. Still, there are experiments being conducted today to test the effectiveness of this fluid in the treatment of sexual dysfunctions and disseminated sclerosis. Scientists are also looking into the possibility of using this compound for anti-bacterial products. Lastly, animal testing on the use of turpentine in promoting inflammatory immune responses looks promising.