What Is Tree Sap Used For? 14 Amazing Uses For Tree Sap You Might Not Know

Man with a bucket collecting sap wonders what is tree sap used for, what is sap, is sap flammable, do all trees have sap and what is the difference between maple sap and pine tree sap and other tree sap uses.

What is tree sap used for? Such a great question because this substance has a wide array of uses, some of which you may have heard of, and some that would probably surprise you.

Tree sap is the lifeblood of the tree, but like humans, the sap can be collected and used.

Although it can be a pain trying to get tree sap out of your pet’s fur, the benefits of this substance are well documented.

This guide explains a number of answers to the question, what is tree sap used for, and outlines some eye-opening ones that you may not know.

What Is Tree Sap Used For? (Overview of Tree Sap Uses)

So what is tree sap used for? When people think of tree sap, the first thing that probably comes to mind is that of the maple, whose sweet, syrupy goodness makes the perfect addition to delicious breakfast foods like pancakes, waffles, and french toast.

But many different kinds of trees produce sap, which can be used for a variety of purposes. Being rich in a number of healthful substances like minerals and nutrients, it has a number of medicinal uses.

It can also be used for an eclectic mix of other reasons from waterproofing to glue.

Tree Sap as Food (Can You Eat Tree Sap?)

Below are the common uses of tree sap:

1. Syrup

As it was just mentioned, syrup is probably the most well-known use for sap. The sugar maple produces the sweetest sap and the most sap of any maple tree.

Other maple trees produce edible sap but it tends to not be as sweet, and because they aren’t as prolific in their production, their syrup can’t be produced on a larger, commercial scale. With maple syrup clearly being the star of the show, you would be forgiven for not knowing a number of other trees produce edible sap as well.

They include white walnuts, black walnuts, heartnuts, English walnut, and birch trees. Birch sap in particular makes a great syrup with a rich, complex flavor profile, but it takes much more energy to produce than maple.

Graphics with text that shows the different tree sap uses.

One gallon of birch syrup requires 100 gallons of birch water, while one gallon of maple syrup only requires 40 gallons.2

2. Beverages

Birch water is becoming a more popular beverage around the world due to its healthy profile–low in sugar and high in a variety of minerals and antioxidants. People in Russia and Eastern Europe also ferment it into an alcoholic beverage.

Indigenous cultures around the world ferment tree sap to make beverages used in religious ceremonies, traditional feasts, and celebrations. It represents the bond between the natural world and the spiritual realm.

3. What Is Tree Sap Used For? Sap Chewing Gum

You can use pine sap to make chewing gum. Gum keeps your mouth moist, which helps rebuild calcium in the teeth and aids in digestion by increasing salivation.

It also removes food particles stuck in the teeth that can break down, leading to tooth decay and bad breath.

Tree Sap as Medicine

As you have already seen, sap is a versatile substance with many applications, but the uses for tree sap in the realm of health and medicine is where it really seems to shine. Its healing properties range from fighting fungus to promoting wound healing.

Tree sap has been a staple of Native American medicine for centuries.

Pine Sap Medicinal Uses

Pine sap in particular provides an impressive array of medicinal benefits:Skin Conditions

As you saw above, pine tar soap is one of the most popular natural soaps around. Besides being a good organic cleansing option, pine sap contains properties that may help treat various skin conditions such as eczema.

It soothes dry skin and itchy skin with its moisturizing properties and inhibits the growth of bacteria and fungi. If you are interested in using pine sap products specifically to treat a skin condition, be sure to read the labels carefully.

Close-up photo of pine sap dripping.

(Image: Nick Windsor8)

Many products boast the inclusion of natural ingredients, but are far from all-natural, and often contain a variety of chemicals. Avoid products containing triclosan, sodium laureth sulfate, sodium lauryl sulfate, polyethylene glycol, parabens, and formaldehyde.

It is generally safe for younger children but you may want to use it on a small area to see if there is any reaction. Rarely people may have a sensitivity to products containing pine sap.

It could be a good idea to do the patch test as well in this case, as well as if you are experiencing an active flare-up of eczema or another skin condition to be sure it doesn’t make it worse.

4. Wound Healing and Dressing

Sap has natural antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, and astringent properties, making it a great option for dressing and healing wounds of all kinds from abrasions to burns. Its primary benefit in this regard is reducing the risk of infection by keeping bacteria out of the wound.

5. Herbal Supplement

Pine sap contains many essential vitamins, minerals, polyphenols, and phytonutrients that herbal supplement manufacturers include in their products such as pills, teas, and broths.

Birch Sap Medicinal Uses

Birch sap water is seen by many as a powerful healing elixir. It is rich in a number of vitamins:

  •  A
  • B2
  • B3
  • B5
  • B6
  • B9
  • B12
  • C
  • D3
  • E
  • K1

Birch sap also contains a number of minerals that may help with a variety of conditions

  • Potassium to improve blood circulation
  • Magnesium to reduce symptoms of depression
  • Calcium promotes healthy bones
  • Silicon strengthens the joints
  • Selenium for antioxidant effects
  • Phosphorus for healthy bones and teeth
  • Lithium for regulating brain chemicals that influence mood
  • Zinc for immune system function and wound healing

6. Detoxification

Birch sap may aid in detoxification by draining harmful substances from the kidney, liver, skin, lungs, and blood. It may also have stimulating properties, which would aid the body in moving toxins out.

7. Remineralizing

Birch sap is high in minerals and vitamins strongly linked to bone and joint health. While healthy bones and joints are beneficial for everyone, they are particularly so for athletes and older people, especially those who may be convalescing from injuries like a broken hip.

8. Beautification and Weight Loss

Its detoxification properties may help the liver more efficiently remove toxins from the body, which may directly aid in weight loss.

This particular action of birch water may also help reduce cellulite, the scourge of many women regardless of their weight.

A photo of a tree sap just coming out of a tree bark.

(Image: Todd Van Hoosear9)

Applied topically, the moisturizing properties of birch water may treat dandruff, as well as treat acne-prone or sensitive skin.

9.Fighting Inflammation

While inflammation essentially serves a positive purpose in the body by triggering a healing response in injuries and infections, excessive inflammation can lead to a host of problems from acne to joint pain to digestive distress. Birch sap is particularly well known for its anti-inflammatory properties, making it a potentially helpful treatment for a range of conditions such as gout, COPD, asthma, ulcerative colitis, autoimmune disorders, osteoarthritis, kidney disease, and heart disease to name a few.

Maple Sap Medicinal Uses

You would be forgiven for not realizing the same substance that produces one of people’s favorite breakfast food toppings appears to have a number of strong health benefits as well. Here are a few:

10. Rich in Antioxidants

Pure maple syrup contains a number of healthy substances, including a whopping 24 antioxidants.3

Antioxidants protect the body in numerous ways by counteracting harmful substances that increase inflammation in the body, accelerate the aging process, and make the body more susceptible to a number of serious health problems from cancer to autoimmune diseases where the body attacks its own healthy tissues.

To maximize this benefit, select maple darker, grade B syrups. Some of the most prominent antioxidants found in maple sap include gallic acid, benzoic acid, cinnamic acid, and flavonols like rutin, quercetin, catechin, and epicatechin.

11. Lower on the Glycemic Index

If you have certain conditions like diabetes or are just interested in eating a diet low in simple sugars because that is known to lower the risk of the most common chronic illnesses, the glycemic index is a helpful tool. Food is rated by how quickly it will raise blood sugar once consumed.

Those quickly metabolized by the liver cause rapid spikes in blood sugar and then rapid ‘crashes.’ The sugars in maple syrup are not metabolized as quickly as other kinds, making it a healthier alternative to other types of sweeteners.

But it is still a sugar and any sugar should be consumed in modest amounts.

Fights Inflammation

The polyphenol antioxidants in maple syrup have particularly strong anti-inflammatory properties, and regular consumption of foods containing them may reduce the risk of numerous conditions such as heart disease, inflammatory bowel disease, and arthritis.

The plant-based compounds present in the sap reduce oxidative stress that triggers inflammation.

Healthier Alternative to Sugar and Artificial Sweeteners

High sugar consumption may contribute to a number of digestive illnesses such as leaky gut and IBS, and indigestion in the form of bloating, cramping, gas, and constipation. Maple syrup can be a great alternative anywhere you use sugar from smoothies to baked goods.

Artificial sweeteners were once seen as a popular alternative to sugar because they have zero calories, but they are increasingly linked to a number of health issues from fatigue to anxiety and depression These artificial sweeteners may even have an addictive quality. Maple syrup would be a much healthier alternative to these sugar alternatives, particularly because its natural taste will be much more satiating.

Research has shown that sugar may contribute to cancer.4 Now, consuming maple sugar will not directly reduce your risk of getting it, though it does contain substances that are known to protect the DNA from damage and mutation.

But given how much refined sugar the average person consumes, finding healthier substitutes is a good move for anyone seriously interested in adopting a cane removing more harmful foods from their diet and replacing them with healthier ones.

12. Healthy Skin

Applying maple syrup topically may promote skin health in a variety of ways such as reducing inflammation, redness, acne, and dryness.

You can find many homemade mask recipes online that combine maple syrup with other skin-nourishing ingredients.

13. Rich in Vitamins and Minerals

Maple syrup is particularly rich in zinc and manganese. Zinc plays a critical role in supporting healthy immune function by increasing the number of white blood cells.

Manganese aids the body in numerous vital functions such as calcium absorption, blood sugar regulation, and fat and carbohydrate metabolism. It is also crucial for overall brain and nerve health.

14. Enhance Antibiotic Function

Overuse of antibiotics has become a big problem, making them less effective against a variety of bacteria.

Their tendency to attack healthy cells along with the harmful bacteria can result in a number of side effects.

Photo of a maple sap in a bottle with wooden spoon beside it.

(Image: piviso7)

Research suggests that combining maple syrup extracts with antibiotics may help them work better, and even require smaller doses of them, maybe even up to 90 percent less of the drug.5

What Is Sap?

Tree sap is basically the ‘blood’ of the tree in that it moves important substances through the tree that it needs to survive, just as blood does that for us humans. The term ‘sap’ actually refers to two different substances: xylem and phloem.

Xylem carries minerals, water, and hormones from the bottom to the top of the tree –the roots to the leaves–in a string formation.1 Every year, these xylem channels die off with new ones taking their place.

You will recognize these channels as the rings you see inside the tree, with each ring representing one year of the tree’s life. Phloem is the sugary, sticky substance you may have come into contact with when being near a tree.

The sugars are created by photosynthesis and serve as a vital food source during the tree’s growth period.

Tree Sap vs. Tree Resin

People often think tree resin and tree sap are two different names for the same thing, but they are actually two different substances. Like tree sap, people can use resin for a number of things, with many uses being similar to sap.

While most trees produce sap, not all produce resin. Tree resin is typically found in pine, fir, and cedar trees.

Trees that shed their leaves annually do not produce resin.

Can You Tap a Pine Tree for Sap?

Tapping a pine tree can damage it, so it is best to collect crystallized sap from the branches and tree trunk. The tree oozes sap to conserve energy in the spring and early summer and protect wounds.

You can melt the hardened sap to create a liquid form.

Other Uses for Tree Sap

Keep reading to learn more about other uses of tree sap.

Pine Tree Sap Tar Soap

Pine tree sap has strong antiseptic properties and was a very popular form of soap long ago before many personal care products became laden with artificial chemicals. You can easily order it online, or if you are interested in making your own, you can find instructions on how to do so.


When wondering what is tree sap used for, it may surprise you to know it may be an ingredient in these sorts of products. Sap is actually a popular ingredient in cosmetic and facial care products of all kinds.

Its strong hydrating properties make it a great addition to lip balms, creams, moisturizers, and lotions. It is fast becoming a preferred ingredient in natural and organic skincare formulations.


For centuries, tree sap has been used for waterproofing purposes. When melted down and applied to fabrics, leather, and a variety of other surfaces, it creates a strong waterproof seal.

Fire Starter

Covering your burning material in sap makes it easier to start a fire and prolongs burn time. You might soak a piece of wood or fabric for example.

You can make your own fire starters by dipping pine cones in sap and letting them harden. These sap-covered cones may particularly come in handy when you are trying to start a fire in wet conditions.

Survivalists and outdoor enthusiasts often employ this technique due to its reliability and abundant availability of sap in the woods.

Artistic and Woodworking Uses

Sap’s adhesive properties make it an ideal substance for binding materials together, making it an eco-friendly choice for woodworking of all kinds, jewelry-making, and a number of other projects. It works on a number of mediums from wood to bone to stone, making it a favorite of artisans and craftsmen.

Photo of tree barks which are good sources of tree sap.

(Image: Matt Bernard10)

It functions well as a wood sealer. The sap forms a protective barrier that keeps moisture out, helping to maintain the structural integrity of the wood.

It is used for this purpose in a variety of items from boats to furniture. This ability to keep out moisture makes it a popular ingredient in paints, glosses, and coatings.


When asking ‘What is tree sap used for?’ you might not know the crucial role it plays in promoting life on our planet. Tree sap lures pollinators like bees and butterflies, which help plants reproduce by carrying pollen from one part of the plant to another.

Of the over 1,400 crops grown for food all over the world, over 80 percent require pollination to grow. The sugary sap lures them in and is a tasty reward for doing this most important of jobs in the ecosystem.6

As you can see, tree sap is a pretty amazing substance with an impressive, eclectic mix of uses. Maple sap is not only a delicious treat, it may promote health on a variety of fronts.

Pine sap is great for making everything from natural soaps to jewelry to a roaring fire. Birch sap water may be poised to become the next big thing in health food.

So when you asked the question what is tree sap used for, you probably never expected it to be such a versatile substance, but it truly is.

Frequently Asked Questions About What Is Tree Sap Used For

When Is The Best Time To Tap a Maple Tree?

Generally speaking, the best time is mid-February through mid-March, but will ultimately depend on where you live exactly and the weather conditions. Sap flows when daytime temperatures are above freezing and nighttime temperatures are below freezing.

Do All Trees Have Sap?

Contrary to what most people believe, sap doesn’t just come from maple. All trees and plants have them; some are just more visible than others.


1University of Florida, University of Kentucky, & Texas A&M University. (2023, February 24). Xylem. IFAS | UFL. Retrieved November 28, 2023, from <https://propg.ifas.ufl.edu/01-biology/02-cell-types/12-celltypes-xylem.html>

2Farell, M. (2015, April 06). Weighing the Pros and Cons of Producing Birch Syrup. CORNELL. Retrieved November 28, 2023, from <https://smallfarms.cornell.edu/2015/04/weighing-the-pros/>

3Abou-Zaid, M. M., Nozzolillo, C., Tonon, A., Coppens, M.D., & Lombardo, D.A. (2008). High-performance liquid chromatography characterization and identification of antioxidant polyphenols in maple syrup. NRCAN. Retrieved November 28, 2023, from <https://cfs.nrcan.gc.ca/publications?id=28297>

4Epner, M., Yang, P., Wagner, R.W., & Cohen, L. (2022, December 08). Understanding the Link between Sugar and Cancer: An Examination of the Preclinical and Clinical Evidence. NCBI | NLM | NIH. Retrieved November 28, 2023, from <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9775518/>

5The University of Rhode Island. (2023). Pure Maple Syrup Might be the Newest Antibiotic. URI. Retrieved November 28, 2023, from <https://web.uri.edu/maple/pure-maple-syrup-might-be-the-newest-antibiotic/>

6Michigan State University. (2023). Pollination. MSU. Retrieved November 28, 2023, from <https://www.canr.msu.edu/nativeplants/pollination/>

7piviso. Pixabay. From <https://pixabay.com/photos/maple-syrup-food-delicious-tasty-2232088/>

8Photo by Nick Windsor. Cropped, Resized, Changed Format. Pixabay. Retrieved April 9, 2024, from <https://pixabay.com/ru/photos/%D1%81%D0%BE%D1%81%D0%BD%D0%B0-%D1%81%D0%BE%D0%BA-%D0%B3%D0%BB%D0%BE%D0%B1%D1%83%D0%BB%D1%8B-%D0%BA%D0%B0%D0%BF%D0%B0%D1%82%D1%8C-%D0%BF%D1%80%D0%B8%D1%80%D0%BE%D0%B4%D0%B0-5094878/>

9The Birch Sap is Running. Todd Van Hoosear.CC BY-SA 2.0 DEED | Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic. Resized, Adjusted Color Balance, and Adjusted Brightness and Contrast. From. <https://www.flickr.com/photos/vanhoosear/8629839114/>

10Matt Bernard. Pexels. From <https://www.pexels.com/photo/maple-forest-with-buckets-attached-to-trees-in-winter-6785023/>