Turpentine: A Global Perspective

Annual world production of turpentine is estimated to exceed 250,000 tons, which is tenfold greater that the production of any other essential oil. This production level reflects turpentine’s importance to the world chemical industries as a basic feedstock for the manufacture of a wide range of derivatives. In the fragrance industry, the value of turpentine represents approximately 25% of the value of all aroma chemicals produced both for sale and for internal use each year.

Turpentine Types

The two principal types of turpentine today are gum turpentine, derived from the manual tapping of live pine trees (the gum naval stores industry), and sulfate turpentine, derived from the chemical pulping of pine lumber (the “Kraft” or “sulfate” process). In the latter process, crude sulfate turpentine is recovered along with tall oil rosin as a by-product.

Approximately 50-60% of the 250,000 tons of turpentine produced globally each year is sulfate turpentine. The supply of sulfate turpentine is currently stable, but the prospect exists for a decline in the long run. The supply of gum turpentine, which accounts for 40-50% of the annual world production, also is currently stable, but it has a potential for increase. 

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