This is resinoid of Siam Benzoin, Styrax Tonkinensis I prepared. It has a beautiful, sweet Vanilla-like scent with highlights of caramel and bitter almonds. In Aromatherapy it is considered calming, relaxing and grounding. Its scent is a little stronger, deeper and sweeter than the other Benzoin in the shop, Styrax Benzoin from Sumatra.
I dissolved whole Benzoin 50/50 by weight with Benzyl benzoate, a compound that is found in the resin abundantly. Besides this natural affinity with Benzoin resin, Benzyl benzoate dissolves in oils and in alcohol making this a versatile product for a wide range of applications.
The 50/50 ratio yields an easy to use and pourable product.
Though some shops sell this resinoid as “Benzoin Essential Oil” (erroneously or intentionally), there is no essential oil of Benzoin since its aromatic molecules are not volatile enough to distil.
Siam Benzoin resinoid is an aromatic liquid the colour and consistency of Buckwheat honey in the fall. Though it is pourable at room temperature, a little warmth will help it flow and a warm water-bath will help it blend with other compounds.
In perfumery, it is used as a fixative since it has the property of anchoring more fleeting scents in a blend.
Benzoin contains Benzoic acid which acts as a preservative for fats and oils. For this reason, you will often see Benzoin tincture or resinoid added to formulas to keep oils and fats from oxidizing and going rancid. A little bit of Benzoin resinoid, (1%-2%), will greatly extend the shelf life of products made with Olive oil, grapeseed, almond and many other ” unstable” carrier oils. It also helps extend the life of animal fats such as Lard and Tallow. Note that Benzoin resin and tincture only help preserve fats and have no preservative properties when it comes to water-soluble compounds or water/oil emulsions.
Benzoin is traditionally used topically in a tincture to help heal cracked, irritated or chapped skin and is thought to relieve respiratory congestion. However, Benzoin also has a tendency to cause sensitization. Avoid applying it directly, excessively, or undiluted to the skin.
Benzoin was originally brought to the West when Islam spread to Indonesia. Arabian traders discovered a tree resin that reminded them of their Luban, or Frankincense back home.
They gave it the name Luban Jawi, which translates as Frankincense of Java. Over the centuries Benzoin became a mainstay in the aromatic and medicinal repertoires of cultures along the spice route and its name found many iterations.
For the French, LubanJawi became Le BenJawi, Benjawi and eventually Benzoin. The English found it easier to call it Benjamin or Gum Benjamin.
To this day we hear it referred to as Gum Benjamin, Benzoin, LubanJawi, Lubanya and Lubanja depending on the country and culture.
Benzoin is the original source of some familiar and important chemicals such as
Benzoic acid, Benzyl alcohol, Benzyl Benzoate which we now produce from other raw materials
Benzoin, like Labdanum, is a key ingredient in Chypre and Oriental type perfumes.
Many formulas for “Amber” fragrances and Amber perfume accords call for blending Benzoin, Labdanum and Vanilla in various proportions.
Benzoin is collected by incising a V and parting the bark of the tree slightly from the wood. This creates a natural pocket which holds the liquid resin until it sets and gives us the beautiful Benzoin “Almonds” of commerce. (See photos above).
Dissolved in a bit of warm oil, this material makes a simple perfume and a fragrant beard dressing for men. Blended with some Labdanum draws it closer to a divine fragrance and with the addition of Vanilla, you will have an Amber accord.
You can find labdanum resinoid here-https://www.etsy.com/listing/167219402/labdanum-resinoid-an-ancient
Blending resins and resinoids is done with greater ease when they are warmed in a water bath. Avoid microwaves and stove tops which give little control over the temperature.