Fir refers to the over fifty species of evergreen coniferous trees in the Abies genus in the Pinaceae family. These trees grow throughout Europe, Northern Africa, Asia, and North and Central America. Firs can be identified from other members of the Pinaceae by examining their needles, which attach to the twigs of the tree with bases that resemble tiny suction cups. Identification of the different Fir species can be done by examining the size and shape of the cones and the size and arrangement of the needles. Several species of Fir are utilized for essential oil extraction with Abies balsamea and Abies sibirica among the popular choices.
Balsam Fir (Abies balsamea) is native to North America and can be found in the northeastern United States and throughout most of eastern and central Canada. Balsam Fir trees generally grow between forty and sixty feet tall with some specimens reaching nearly ninety feet in height. The bark on young trees is smooth and gray, becoming more rough and scaly as the tree matures. Balsam Fir leaves are dark green, flat and needle-like, growing around an inch long. The needles form in a spiral on the shoot but each needle base is twisted so that they appear to grow in rows on either side of the shoot. The needles become shorter and thicker the higher they are on the tree. Balsam Fir cones are around one to three inches long and change from purple to brown as they ripen. The cones disintegrate in early autumn to release the winged seeds.
Siberian Fir (Abies sibirica) is native to Siberia, Turkestan, Mongolia, and areas of China and grows in river basins and mountainous regions. Siberian Fir trees grow to be between ninety-five and one hundred and twenty feet tall with trunks around three feet in diameter. The bark of the trees is smooth and greyish-green with blisters of resin along it. Siberian Fir leaves are thin, light green, and needle-like, growing around an inch long on average. The needles are soft and flattened, growing directed upwards along the stem. Siberian Fir Cones are about two to four inches long and transform from a bluish color to dark brown as they mature. Around mid-autumn, the cones disintegrate and release two to three-inch long winged seeds.
Abies, the name of the Fir genus is derived from the Latin word meaning “to rise”, referring to the soaring heights of some species. The common English name “Fir” evolved from the Old Danish and Old Norse words for the tree which are fyr and fyri, respectively. Native American cultures have used various parts of the Fir tree in traditional medicinal practices. The needle-like leaves of Fir trees are consumed directly off the tree by humans across the globe as well as by many animal species. Fir trees are milled for lumber that is used in framing and siding as well as being processed for pulp to manufacture paper. Fir branches were used to construct camping mattresses before the widespread availability of foam rubber and air mattresses.
The resinous sap of Balsam Fir trees has long been used in producing glue for glasses, microscopes, and optical instruments. The resin is also used in some traditional cold remedies. Historian Jacques Mathieu has posed the idea that the Balsam Fir was actually the tree referred to as “aneda” which was attributed with curing Jacques Cartier and his crew of scurvy during their second expedition to Canada. Balsam Fir Needle Essential Oil has been widely utilized in commercial incense and air fresheners and has been approved by the EPA as a nontoxic rodent repellent. Balsam Fir trees are widely cultivated on farms in Canada and the United States for use as Christmas trees and are a large export from New England and Quebec. These Firs are great for this purpose because of their beautiful shape, rich green color, and strong aroma. Between 1964 and 2019 a Balsam Fir was chosen for the US Capitol Christmas Tree six times. In northern areas of the Great Lakes region, Balsam Fir branches are used to make Christmas wreaths as well.
Fir Needles that are to be used for essential oil production are harvested from young trees during spring when the essential oil content is highest. Once harvested, Fir Needles and twigs are packed tightly into the still to maximize the oil yield. Fir Needle Essential Oil is extracted from the needles and twigs of the tree through steam distillation. Both Balsam Fir Needle and Siberian Fir Needle yield around 1-2% essential oil. The resulting essential oil is thin and clear to pale yellow, with a fresh, clean, and woody aroma.
Benefits & Uses
When used in aromatherapy, Fir Needle Essential Oil has been found to soothe and relax the body and mind. It has been found to ease feelings of stress and reduce negative thoughts to combat the onset of anxiety. Fir Needle may work to balance the emotions and enhance the mood to create a positive and uplifted state of mind. It may help to awaken the mind and encourage focus and confidence for a boost of personal strength. Fir Needle Essential Oil is also believed to induce the relaxed state needed to improve sleep quality and avoid fatigue. When inhaled, Fir Needle has been found to soothe irritation and inflammation in the sinuses and lungs and support healthy respiratory function.
When diluted and used topically, Fir Needle Essential Oil is known to have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. It may help to ease pain and reduce swelling in the muscles and joints that may be caused by rheumatism or injury. Fir Needle is believed to combat bacteria to help protect the body from infection and encourage the healing of minor wounds. It may help to rid the air and surfaces of bacteria and germs while working to eliminate odors to maintain a healthy and fresh environment. Fir Needle Essential Oil has also been found the boost metabolism to support healthy weight management.
Here are some recipes using Fir Needle Essential Oil that we love...
Relaxed Confidence Diffuser Blend
- 5 drops of Fir Needle Essential Oil
- 3 drops of Bergamot Essential Oil
- 2 drops of Frankincense Essential Oil
Add water to your diffuser up to the fill line. Add drops of the essential oil blend. This diffuser blend recipe is formulated for a 200ml ultrasonic diffuser. Adjust the amount according to the size and directions of your diffuser.
Forest Fresh: Cleansing Room Spray
- 4 oz Amber Glass Bottle with Spray Top
- 2 oz of High Percentage Alcohol
- 2 oz of Distilled Water
- 10 drops of Fir Needle Essential Oil
- 10 drops of Eucalyptus Essential Oil
- 10 drops of Cedarwood Essential Oil
Add 2 ounces of alcohol to the bottle. Add the essential oils and fill the remainder of the bottle with witch hazel, leaving a little space at the top. Shake well before each use. Spray around the home to combat bacteria and unwanted orders.
Soothed Slumber Sleep Sachet
- Small Cotton Bags
- ½ cup of Uncooked Rice
- ¼ cup of Lightly Dried Fir Needles
- 10 drops of Fir Needle Essential Oil
- 10 drops of Lavender Essential Oil
- 5 drops of Chamomile Essential Oil
Add rice and fir needles to a bowl and stir to combine. Add essential oil blend and stir again. Add ingredients to a small cotton bag and tie closed tightly or sew shut. Tuck the sachet into your pillowcase before you go to bed.
Inflammation Eliminator: Soothing Skin & Muscle Balm
- 1 oz of Cocoa Butter Wafers
- 1 oz of Unrefined Shea Butter
- ½ oz of Sweet Almond Oil
- ½ oz of Jojoba Oil
- 30 drops of Fir Needle Essential Oil
- 20 drops of Peppermint Essential Oil
- 20 drops of Lavender Essential Oil
Add the cocoa butter and shea butter to a double boiler and heat on low to medium heat until fully melted. Remove from heat and stir in sweet almond oil, jojoba oil, and essential oils. Pour into a jar or tin and allow to cool and harden for several hours.
Awaken the Mind: Focusing Roll On
- 10 ml Amber Glass Roll-On Bottle
- 1/3 oz of Fractionated Coconut Oil
- 4 drops of Fir Needle Essential Oil
- 3 drops of Lemon Essential Oil
- 3 drops of Frankincense Essential Oil
Add the essential oils to the bottle. Fill the rest of the bottle to the top with fractionated coconut oil. Replace the rollerball and cap, gently shake, and roll across your skin.
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