The oil softens the sap so that it can be easily wiped out of your hair.
While olive oil is known to be effective, any kind of cooking oil will work. Cooking oil is the best solvent for removing the sap from your hair (or skin) because it should irritate your skin or damage your hair.
Other food related products containing cooking oil or that are oil in nature, like salad dressing and peanut butter, will also work. But it's the oil that seems to be the key ingredient for removing the sap, so using cooking oil seems to be the best approach with the least amount of clean up.
Other solutions that are often recommended, like WD40, have a strong odor and are less kind to your hair and skin.
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How do I remove tree sap from my hair?
Donna from PA
Believe it or not, peanut butter will do the job! I used to use it on my kids' hands when they got pitch on them - it is non-toxic and it really does work. (12/27/2006)
Peanut butter is one item, but it's really the oil that does the trick. Anything oily - vegetable oil, lard, Goo-Gone. (12/29/2006)
My little girl had sap in her hair yesterday. I was able to remove it by rubbing olive oil (less than a teaspoon) on the sapped area until it dissolved the sap (a quite interesting smell; like a tree salad), and then shampoo her hair at bath time. (06/08/2007)
I just got done using olive oil to remove tree sap from my daughter's hair (after reading the suggestions listed) -- and it worked perfectly! (06/18/2007)
I also used olive oil! Thank you for the tip, it worked great. Now it looks like I haven't washed my hair for a year though! (08/05/2007)
WD-40 worked great! (08/09/2007)
By Jimi Hendrix
After having hard hair for 3 days and no solution to the problem. Just thought I would let you know that olive oil does work - thank you so much as I thought I would have to cut my hair off! (09/05/2007)
Olive oil really works. I had doubts, but since the sap was in my husband's hair, I was willing to try it! Just a small amount of oil, rubbed on the sap for maybe 30 seconds, and the sap just disintegrated and was gone! Brilliant idea! (06/19/2008)
Thanks so much worked great! It was in my dog's hair. (07/05/2008)
Ivory soap worked for us. Just scrub a dub dub for about a minute. (07/31/2008)
It really worked, I was ready to head over to my neighbor's house with a pair of scissors. My hair smells just like the pine salad someone else mentioned but I'll go with smell over goo any day! (08/02/2008)
By MaryAnn DePasquale
I was so scared! My little daughter (5yo) has never had her hair cut, ever. This is for medical reasons I will not explain. Her hair is finally to her neck, but still can almost see her scalp. This has been a long ordeal with friends and emotions. She came up from the playing area and her hair was full of tree sap. I mean full. I didn't know what to do. I went to ASK.COM for the solution and found that olive oil will work, just a little on my fingers rubbed it off. Thank you olive oil, thank you. (08/05/2008)
Thank you so much for the suggestions. Our dog had some sap on him from camping and we were out of olive oil, but vegetable oil worked great! (08/15/2008)
By ISAAC AARON
Tried the olive oil on my dog, worked like a charm! (08/29/2008)
On our trail walk today, my cat stepped in some sap. About 45 minutes later (and lots of walking on her part), we arrived home. I found this site and read about using olive oil to remove tree sap. I had some on hand, so I tried it. Amazing! It worked great and didn't require a lot of scrubbing or pulling on the hair between her toes. Thank you so much for the information! (10/21/2008)