According to the hive mind over at Wikipedia, pine tar is defined as “a sticky material produced by the high temperature carbonization of pine wood in anoxic conditions (dry distillation or destructive distillation). The wood is rapidly decomposed by applying heat and pressure in a closed container; the primary resulting products are charcoal and pine tar.” Pine tar soap is used for general cleaning, of course, but for years has been recommended for the treatment of carbuncles and skin diseases, such as psoriasis, eczema, and rosacea. In fact, many online rosacea forums recommend the use of pine tar soap for the treatment of that disease with some recommending Grandpa’s Brand, specifically.
We have two brands and two processes to check out. Grandpa’s Brand is a hot process soap, and the soap from Dr. Squatch is cold process. The main difference between these two methods obviously involves heat, or the lack thereof. Instead of the lye, water, and fats being mixed together over a gentle heat, they are blended together until the mixture is thick and then the whole concoction is poured into a mold. Both processes require a couple weeks of curing where the remaining water left in the soap is allowed to evaporate out so the soap gets hard.
Let it be known right from the get-go that both brands of pine tar soap featured here are great, though quite different from one another. The hot process soap from Grandpa’s Brand is noticeably firmer than the soap from Dr. Squatch. The Dr. Squatch soap is what they call an “exfoliating bar” which means that there’s a blend of sand and oatmeal in the bar to help wash away some of that old dead skin we all carry around.
Differences aside, the pine tar soaps from both of these companies work exactly as one would expect, with a couple exceptions regarding the Dr. Squatch product. While the soap from Grandpa explicitly states on the front of the package that their soap “lathers white,” Dr. Squatch makes no such claim. Why? Because the pine tar soap from Dr. Squatch lathers up in a cool blueish-grey color that is, at least at first a little shocking. Also, when it comes to using an exfoliating bar in the shower, it is a good idea to know in advance that the oatmeal and sand in the soap may be a bit too much for some of the more tender areas of the human body. Let’s just say that the pine tar soap from Dr. Squatch takes a little getting used to, but it is worth the effort.
Both soaps have a fragrance that is shared with pretty much all pine tar soaps; it is woodsy, a bit dark, smoky, and really quite masculine without being overbearing in the slightest. The scent draws plenty of compliments before it fades away for the day. Roommates, partners, and live-in loved ones will appreciate the new smell on you and you will appreciate the fact that it make the bathroom smell pretty darn good too.
Is one better than the other? As best as I can tell, no. In fact, despite the different soap making processes and somewhat different ingredients, these soaps are quite similar and both are very pleasant to use. Made in America (both). For more information: