The rebirth of the pine resin industry
Pine resin has been harvested in the Landes since the Middle Ages: the resin was distilled to obtain
pitch, a viscous, sticky substance with many uses.
Since then, gemmage has gone from strength to strength: new harvesting and gathering techniques
have been developed to increase yields, and new properties of the resin have been discovered.
Gemmage reached a turning point in the 1950s, when the "resiniers" as they were known, turned to
a chemical activator: sulphuric acid. Although this delayed scarring and increased resin yield, it had
disastrous consequences for the environment and the health of resin workers, leading to
Gumming reached its peak in the 1970s, generating 18,000 jobs and harvesting 178,000 tonnes of
resin. But in 1990, with competition coming mainly from China and Brazil, French resin harvesting
collapsed and eventually disappeared. Holiste's ultimate ambition is to relaunch a gemmage industry.
To this end, the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region is supporting Holiste in its drive to industrialise its
harvesting method and develop a model that is economically viable on a regional scale.
In 2010, Holiste created the BioGemme brand in order to secure its gemmage (or resin extraction)
process in Biscarosse, in the Landes region of France, with the aim of offering a quality turpentine
essential oil for the proper functioning of its Bol d'air Jacquier.
This process enables us to :
- Secure the future of our business by exploiting a product from our own harvest.
- Offer our customers a high-quality, traceable, responsible and eco-certified French product.
We have carried out a programme of scientific and technical research into gemmage, in conjunction
with laboratories and universities, backed up by meticulous field trials and observations, leading in
2018 to a resin harvesting method that respects the gemmur, the tree and the environment.
The pine resin extraction process
The gumming process begins in June, and initially involves using a special machine to make a circular
cut in the bark of the Landes pine, just grazing the trunk of the tree. A patented 100% natural organic
acid-based activator is then applied to the dent. It will allow the resin to flow more abundantly and
slow down the healing of the tree.
A flexible container is then applied to the breach using a connector, allowing the resin to be collected
as it drains from the tree. Packaged in this way, the resin is protected from impurities, evaporation
and oxidation, ensuring a pure product.
As soon as the harvest is complete in October, we empty the bags of resin into barrels using a
specially adapted machine. The barrels of resin are then transported to our local partner,
BIOLANDES, which will distil the resin using a specific, gentle process to obtain the essential oils of
turpentine and oresin, as well as rosin, the solid part.
These distillation products are certified Organic.
The benefits of BioGemme gemmage
BioGemme gemmage offers a number of advantages over the so-called "traditional" or
PRESERVATION OF LIVING ORGANISMS :
- The 100% natural activator poses no risk to the operator, the tree or the surrounding fauna.
- The trunk of the tree is not damaged, so the quality of the wood to be cut is not affected.
A research programme conducted by the CRPF (Centre Régional de la Propriété Forestière) is tending
to show that gemmage using the BioGemme method results in greater mechanical strength in the
wood, making it an asset for construction.
Gemmage requires regular upkeep of the forest plots beforehand, thereby reducing the risk of fire. In
addition, the presence of the gemmmeurs in the forest is also a way of "watching over the forest"
and preventing this risk.
IMPROVED WORKING CONDITIONS :
- The operator's work is made easier thanks to the mechanisation of harvesting and bag emptying.
DEVELOPMENT OF THE LOCAL ECONOMY:
- Gemming enables forest owners who want to generate additional income from their plots to do so.
- A dedicated team works year-round at the Biscarosse premises, and seasonal workers are brought
in to supplement the workforce during the harvesting period.
Ever more responsible
In 2022, following an eco-design diagnosis, Holiste gave concrete expression to its commitment to
protecting the environment by initiating a Life Cycle Analysis of the gem and its distillation products
with ADEME and the Landes CCI. Our aim is to assess and reduce all aspects of our environmental
impact - supplies, forest logistics, recycling of gem bags and boxes, etc.
Holiste is piloting BioGemme in collaboration with other companies and institutions, around the
ecological harvesting of pine resin in the Landes region in a spirit of creativity and sharing.
BioGemme was developed over 10 years of R&D with the help of the Landes department, the
DIRRECTE, CETIM, ADEME, the New Aquitaine and Bourgogne Franche-Comté regions and the CNPF.
BioGemme is part of the European SustForest Plus programme: an initiative led by the main players
in the natural resin value chain in south-west Europe to boost economic activity in the sector.
The raw resin, organic turpentine oil and rosin obtained by BioGemme meet today's health and
environmental requirements, at a time when petro-sourced products are being affected by new
bans. As a result, they are coveted at both national and global level.
Transformed or not, they are used, depending on their specific properties, in the composition of
numerous products, from the most common consumer goods to the design of intermediate
The diversification of products derived from Landes pine resin meets the needs of markets and
companies whose priority is sustainable development and the use of eco-sourced raw or processed
Today, it is vital to promote approaches, processes and products that follow and respect a
production model that enables sustainable management of our resources.
Waxing" wooden beehives is an essential step in making them weatherproof and resistant to
The addition of our BioGemme organic rosin enhances the strength of this impregnation layer, while
at the same time sanitising and protecting the wood from parasites and pests.
20% BioGemme rosin mixed with beeswax or vegetable wax limits the humidity of wood and
disinfects it to ensure a longer lifespan.
Organic turpentine essential oil, also known as organic maritime pine essential oil, is produced by
gentle distillation of raw pine resin. Thanks to our BioGemme gemmage method, which uses no
sulphuric acid, it retains all its original qualities.
This maritime pine essential oil can be used in turpentine showers, widely used in thermal baths, but
also in Salmanoff baths.
BioGemme pure gem turpentine is used to dilute oil paints. It liquefies the pigments and speeds up
the drying process because it can absorb up to 4 times its weight in oxygen: this quality is called
siccativation. It contains no allergenic molecules such as Delta-3-Carene and has a very slightly
BioGemme rosin has many uses in the artistic field because it behaves like a thermoplastic. It can be
melted and hot-cast to form works of art. Depending on how long it is fired, it will appear in different
colours ranging from yellow to dark amber. Mixed with pure gem turpentine, certain vegetable oils,
waxes or lacquers, it is also used to form very specific patinas or varnishes. It is a quality ingredient
for varnishes and polishes used to restore antique furniture.
It is also used in shoemaking and leather goods to grease sewing threads.
Differentiating between "poissing" and "waxing" a sewing thread - Point Sellier (point-sellier.com)
BioGemme organic raw resin contains all the molecules formed by maritime pine in its resin canals. It
contains a mixture of approximately 30% Mono-Terpenic molecules of the Turpentine type and 70%
Di or Tri Terpenic molecules of the Rosin type. It is a 2-in-1 material adapted to the varnish recipes of
18th century violin makers.
Holiste took part in the "Stradivernis" collaborative programme, which sought to reproduce the
qualities of the varnish used in the 18th century by the violin maker Antonio Stradivari.
The University of Pau and the Pays de l'Adour, the Cité de la Musique (Paris), the FCBA, the University
of Créteil, Concept Aquitaine (Bordeaux), Finsa (Morcenx), Meubles Goisnard (Belin-Beliet), the
Api'Up association (Capbreton) and ourselves worked together to produce a local, biosourced,
industrialisable varnish with high performance. The study highlighted the quality of our resin.
When Landes pine softens industrial mores! - PresseLib
Cosmetics and perfumes
Organic turpentine essential oil is very rich in alpha and beta-pinene levorotatory mono-terpenes,
making it an ideal base for perfumes.
BioGemme organic rosin is non-sensitising and is mainly used in depilatory waxes. It is also suitable
as a fixing, film-forming and rheological agent. Thanks to these properties, it is used in make-up
(mascara, lipstick, nail varnish) and hair products (gel, hairspray).
It is also used to make soaps with therapeutic properties.
Reusable food packaging
BioGemme organic rosin is used in the composition of new natural and ecological food packaging.
The packaging, known as "beewrap" in English-speaking countries, is made from natural waxes,
vegetable oils and rosin. They are washable and reusable. The rosin improves the adhesion and
resistance of the product.
Our 100% natural rosin is ideal for food contact packaging.
Biocontrol (phytosanitary) products and agricultural bio-solutions
Organic turpentine essential oil can be used in certain formulations as :
- As a weed control agent, the monoterpenes partially inhibit the germination and growth of certain
- An antibacterial agent, making it an excellent atmospheric antiseptic.
- Repellent agent and limits the proliferation of harmful insects in synergy with other essential oils.
BioGemme organic rosin can be used in the following products:
Tree and wine glue
Tree wound protection and healing products
Care products for humans and animals
Organic turpentine essential oil is used as a raw material for :
Pain-relieving ointments and gels
Ointments to clear the respiratory tract
Worming and anti-parasitic products, particularly for horses
BioGemme organic rosin in its original form can be used in :
Certain veterinary products
BioGemme organic raw resin contains all the molecules formed by maritime pine in its resin canals.
It contains a mixture of approximately 30% Mono-Terpenic molecules of the Turpentine type and
70% Di or Tri Terpenic molecules of the Rosin type. It's a totally natural 2-in-1 product that can be
used to make high-quality ointments for horses' feet.
Pure gem turpentine from the Landes region can be used to dilute specific varnishes for violin
making, without Delta-3-Carene. With very little odour and high solvency, it facilitates the dilution of
the first coats and speeds up the drying process.
BioGemme organic rosin adds texture and smoothness to lutherie varnishes. It also adds
transparency and shine. It colours naturally with heat, so violin makers can adjust the colour of their
varnish according to the length of time it is fired.
It is also a musician's secret ingredient, providing adherence to the bow for violinists and cellists.
When the bow rubs against the strings, it produces a very distinctive sound.
"I'm a Master Craftsman and I work as a violin maker. I make my varnish from linseed oil and pine
resin, trying to get closer to the recipe used by 18th century violin makers. I first became aware of
Holiste's products when I took part in the jury for a thesis presented in the Landes region of France,
on the subject of making a varnish based on traditional recipes.
BioGemme rosin and gem are of the highest quality, and the origin and type of tree used is certified. I
use the raw gem to make my own rosin. Turpentine is also very good and it's especially good to know
that this essence, thanks to the very clean gem harvested in a closed vase, can be used for inhalation.
When I varnish my instruments, the pleasant smell of the Landes forests invades my workshop.
Nicolas GILLES, Violin maker in Villeneuvette
BioGemme organic rosin can be used in all sports where grip is essential:
In climbing, it replaces magnesia, which deteriorates the rock, and strengthens the grip. It is one of
the ingredients in hand creams made from alcohol and rosin.
BioGemme pine resin "sticks" to the ambitions of these young engineers from ENSCM in Montpellier
In handball and rugby, it improves the grip of the ball in the hand and makes for more accurate play.
It is used by dancers on the toes of their shoes to improve their grip on the ground.
For Surfing, it is used in the composition of Eco-Responsible Wax. It provides better grip while
producing no pollutants.
Pure Landes gem turpentine is highly solvent, colourless and has little odour. It is ideal for the
Stain remover for cotton textiles: make-up, shoe polish, tar, grease, fresh paint, etc.
Stain remover for leather and shoe polish stains
Cleaning tiles and slate floors: 2/3 linseed oil - 1/3 turpentine)
Beware of this mixture heating up in the presence of cotton cloths: to avoid this, dampen the cloth
Maintenance of waxed furniture mixed with beeswax
For all the above applications, carry out a preliminary test to check compatibility with the surface.
A mixture of Pure Gem turpentine and linseed oil can be used to maintain waxed or varnished