PINE TAR

Pine Tar has many uses. One is the application to a baseball bat for a better grip. We will explore on this page it’s use in the game of baseball and it’s origin and many other uses.

Pine tar is a sticky material made by high temperature carbonization of pine wood a distillation by a drying process. It is a blackish-brown viscous liquid and has a slight solubility in water. Pine wood is decomposed very quickly by applying heat and pressure in a sealed container and the result is pine tar as the primary product.

Pine tar has been used for many years as a wood preservative. It has been used as a sealant for ships, and has also been used in roofing and construction. As a medicine it has been used as a treatment for skin diseases, carbuncles and, the likes of psoriasis, rosacea, and eczema. Another use is as a soap. (Packer’s Pine Tar Soap) Some other names for Pine Tar are Pine Tar Oil and Wood Tar Oil.

Pine Tar has been used in Scandinavian countries as a wood preservative because of it’s durability in harsh wet cold conditions. It’s use as a preservative in outdoor furniture and ship decks has been extensive. It has been called “Stockholm Tar” for many years as one company controlled the market from Stockholm Sweden.


There have been other names for this sticky substance one is “Archangel Tar” as it was used as a pitch for ships and was in such demand that it became an export from Great Britain to the North American Colonies. Much of the Pine Tar shipped from England was sent to North Carolina where there were many Pine Tree Forests. North Carolina later became know as the “Tar Heel State”.

It’s main use was as a preservative for wood products as we mentioned. (especially wooden ships and boats). Weather proofing rope such as hemp and other rope fibers was another use. Rope rots when wet and when exposed to sea water and rain Pine Tar was used to protect the rope so much that British Seaman were known as “Tars” as the sticky substance would stain their hands.

PINE TAR AND BASEBALL

Pine Tar’s use in baseball has a long history.  It is applied to the handle of a baseball bat. The consistency of the substance aids the batter’s grip of the bat. The following is a list of how it aids the batter:

               1. Improves the batter’s grip of the baseball bat.

               2. Prevent the bat from slipping out of the batter’s

                   hands when swinging.

               3. The batter does not need to grip the bat as tightly

                   so he has more control and “pop” of the bat.

RULE 1.10(c) of the official Major League Baseball Rule Book says: Batter’s may apply pine tar only from the handle of the bat extending up 18″. 

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