We have spent ample time sourcing quality materials to create our beloved balsam heart pillows. We especially love the soft scent of our pillows now when it is too cold to spend much time outdoors.
Balsam fir trees are fast growing evergreens that are native to a wide part of North American. They are often used as Christmas trees because of their stiff, upright growing habit, ability to retain their needles and fragrance.
Balsam trees have many uses. Balsam bark was an important source of food for some Native American tribes. Inner bark was peeled from the tree and used to make breadstuffs. Tea is made from dried balsam needles, and is said to help sooth sore throats and congestion. The buds and resin are used in folk medicine to treat numerous ailments including bronchitis, burns, colds, heart aliments, scurvy and to heal wounds. The resin was also used as an ingredient in varnish and to fix cover slips to microscope slides. Early campers used piles of young balsam boughs as mattresses.
The balsam we use to fill our pillows is wild harvested from private woodlots in Maine. This ensures that the trees were not sprayed with chemicals that are sometimes used to kill insect pests on balsam trees.
Trees are harvested with full scale logging equipment – tractors, bulldozers, and shredders are all used to process the balsam trees. Once harvested the branches are separated from the trunk of the tree. The log portion of the trees are sold to a local pulp mill, and turned into paper. The branches and needles are dried for a week in a specially designed climate controlled room. All parts of the tree are used so there is very little waste from the whole process.
Balsam is harvested for most of the year. The farmers take the month of June off. This is when the trees are flowering and pollinating. It is a messy time of year and many people are allergic to pollen. Not harvesting at this time of year keeps the balsam from being messy.
Thank you to Maine Balsam Fir Products for providing us with balsam and sharing information on their growing and processing techniques!