How to make a Frankincense cosmetic creme from an oleo extract.

Frankincense has been used for medicine, perfume and beauty for hundreds if not thousands of years. Cosmetically Frankincense is considered an effective anti-aging, wrinkle reducing component in face cremes and believed to add elasticity to the skin. It has proven anti-inflammatory properties which have cosmetic applications and helps tighten and tone the skin. Besides these uses, the Boswellic acids which are present in some types of Frankincense exhibit anti-cancer activity causing apoptosis in many types of cancer cells without harming healthy cells and causing little to no side effects. We are just starting to fathom the many gifts this plant material brings us.

The following post outlines one of the many ways we can directly utilize the healing properties of Frankincense, cultivate an intimate relationship with the plant and deepen our relationship with Nature. This page is an excerpt from the post on making an extract from Frankincense, Myrrh and other oleoresins. You can find the full article here-

On this blog, you will find other methods for extracting the volatile oils and resins from Frankincense. The resin portion in, (3 three types of), Frankincense is where the much studied, anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory Boswellic acids are located, not in the essential oil as some essential oil companies claim. With new research on the healing properties of the Boswellic acids and AKBA, it is important for us as Apothecaries, Herbalists and healers of self and others, to have the tools and methods to utilize these plant allies for the healing potential they offer us. This is not rocket science exclusive to big Pharmaceutical companies and requiring complex laboratory equipment, but ancient wisdom that has always been ours for the asking.

The method outlined below is likely the simplest way to access the resin and Boswellic acids in Frankincense. Though it’s product could be more accurately called an oleo infusion, rather than an extract, it provides us with a versatile medicated oil  of Frankincense or Myrrh oleoresins, while leaving the water soluble gum behind. Some oleoresins will part with their resin and essential oils easily, and some, such as Myrrh, will require more effort. This means finer grinding, longer processing in the water bath, higher temperatures and lots of patience.

To create a true extract of Frankincense resin and volatile oils, a semi-solid which could be termed an absolute or resinoid, please see my post-Tapping into Frankincense and its Boswellic acids, an easy extraction method.  This type of extract requires a slightly different approach when dissolving it in a vegetable oil. The process is outlined here-“Make a Frankincense resin oil with Boswellic acids”

 Instructions for making an oleoresin extract/infusion

  • If you are using any type of Frankincense or Myrrh, grind them to a fine powder first. (See the post on how to grind Frankincense & Myrrh. ).
  • If using fresh pliable oleo-resins such as Spruce, Pine or Fir, the soft saps can be used as they are.
  • In a water bath heat up 1 part oleo-resins by weight to 2-3 parts oil in a glass or mason jar. (See  A Solid moustache wax recipe) for complete directions on making and using a water bath.
  • When the bath reaches temperature and starts boiling, stir to break up any lumps and let sit in a simmering bath with occasional stirring for up to 3 hours.
  • Remove from the bath and filter when you see there is no further change in the texture of the solid portion, and no further increase in the scent, colour, (taste?),  and viscosity of the oil portion. Use your own judgement as to when no more oleoresin can be dissolved by the oil. Get up close and intimate with it. Taste it, smell it, rub it on yourself, put a drop on some blotting paper and compare the colour.

Water bath with multiple vessels and ingredients warming to the same temperature.

Frankincense Papyrifera ground in a steel mortar in preparation for extraction.

In the case of Boswellia Frereana, Maydi),  the oleoresin dissolves into the oils within minutes of the bath reaching the boiling point. (It has little to no water-soluble gum). As soon as you have a hot homogenous mobile liquid you can proceed directly to filtering.

Filtering the oleo-resin extract

  • Filter the hot liquid carefully through a fine metal mesh coffee filter, the corner of a well washed and thoroughly rinsed and dried pillowcase, or through a good piece of cotton cloth similar in weave to a bed sheet.
  • Place your filtering material in a funnel over a clear glass vessel or jar. (so later you can gauge when most of the sediment has fallen).
  • Add the hot liquid extract. ( I usually warm the receiving jar a bit first, or swoosh the first bits of hot liquid up its sides to dissipate and soften the sudden heat that may crack a cold glass jar).
  • If using a cloth filter, twist the excess cloth on top to form a sachet, and press out the liquid from this bag with the back of a spoon.
  • If using a metal mesh filter, running the edge of the spoon against the mesh to keep the liquid flowing and the mesh open.
  • Working with the extraction while it is still hot keeps it mobile, liquid and more easily filtered. It will thicken a bit when cool.
  • Cover and set aside.
  • Compost the residue or return it to the earth.
  • OPTIONAL-Wait till all sediment falls to the bottom of the vessel. This could take a day or so.
  • Pour or siphon off the clear liquid, leaving the sediment. You can return this or use it for external applications.
  •  Most often, I will skip this sedimentation part. If no large bits bypass the filtering process, I will use all of this product and make sure to stir it up and evenly suspend the sediment before using it. Much of the sediment is made of heavier particles of resin and not foreign objects that need to be removed. Though it is not crystal clear, this will not interfere with the look or efficacy of salves or cremes you make from it. Unless you are making a product that requires a perfectly transparent oil, there is no reason to sediment it, (as I suggested in older versions of this recipe).
  • If you plan to keep your extract around for a while, add 400 IU of Vitamin E to each 250 ml. or cup of extract. And it is ready to use. I have found they will often keep for many years in a cool dark place. If the oil does eventually go rancid, it will be evident in the scent.

For internal use I suggest starting with 1 teaspoon of extract with food. See how your body feels about it. This is uncharted territory and you are ultimately in charge of your own health. We don’t know how much  is too much. However compared to ingesting pure essential oils as some do, this method is very easy on the body, readily digested and assimilated,  and I believe likely much more effective than ingesting essential oils, which in the case of Frankincense, have only trace amounts of Boswellic acids.
For external use, apply to face, joints etc as often as desired. Again, listen to your body….

Rereading this post a year or so after writing it, I would add that another simple way to benefit from the Boswellic acids and other healing compounds in Frankincense, is to prepare a fine powder of the whole oleo gum resin and take a teaspoon of it as often as you like. I use Frankincense this way regularly with good results, especially when I am suffering from internal inflammations and irritations of either the GI tract or UT. A teaspoon of powdered Frankincense, mixed in my mouth to a homogenous suspension with a sip of water, swallowed and followed by a chaser of a half glass of water seems to work well for me. I will take this between 2 and 6 times a day depending on the need. OK, on to the creme part already!

To make a Frankincense or oleoresin cosmetic crème

I am not an expert in cosmetic formulation.  Far from it. The more I delve into the subject, the more I see there is a lot of science that goes into many of the products we use today, even the “Natural” ones. There is an abundance of great recipes online written by people with much greater knowledge of this art than I. I suggest you find one with detailed instructions for making an oil/water creme that appeals to you, and replace the oil portion in any of these recipes with your oleoresin extract to make a healing creme. The guidelines below are simply that, loose guidelines based around a recipe that works for me until I learn a better method. We are all learning here.

  • Set up a fresh water bath with one jar for oil and a large jar for distilled water.
  • Put the filtered extract back in a jar in the water bath.
  • Add distilled water in the second jar in a quantity that makes up 75% to 80% of the total weight of your finished creme. More water means a slightly thinner lotion or creme. Some experts claim up to 10% of your water will evaporate before your creme is finished, and counsel compensating this loss by adding an extra 10% distilled water at the start.
  •  If you are not using delicate oils, heat the water bath till boiling till both jars and the bath have reached the same temperature-If you are using oils that won’t tolerate high temperature then follow the instructions that come with the oil and bring both vessels in the water bath to the appropriate and same temperature.
  • Calculate the total of all the oil soluble components you will have in your product, carrier oil, essential oils, waxes and oil based preservative if you are going to use one.
  •  Add 25% of the total weight of the oil based portion of your product in emulsifying wax.
  • Blend the emulsifying wax in the oil till completely dissolved.
  • Remove from the bath and slowly add the water to your oil/wax mixture in a large enough bowl or jar to hold both materials comfortably. Mix and blend the water portion untill it is all blended in homogeneously.
  •  Bend the oil-wax mixture for a couple of minutes and let sit. Every 15 minutes or so, repeat the blending till the mixture is room temperature and has started to thicken.
  •  This cool-down period is the time to add your essential oils and any other products that are heat sensitive. Preservatives often fall into this category. Remember if the preservative is an oil-soluble product, it’s weight should have been included in your calculation of how much emulsifying wax to use. I use Liquid Germal Plus and find it effective and relatively benign.
  • When room temperature and of the right consistency pour into clean, sterile containers. If you have not added a preservative then keep refrigerated.
  • For long-term unrefrigerated use, a preservative is a must since you have added water to the formula. Bacteria and molds are “suitcase in hand”,  just waiting to move in. Many organisms can grow in this type of product unseen to the eye and can cause allergic reactions and irritations, sometimes more serious problems.
  • Of course you can improvise with the formula to your heart’s desire. Depending on the purpose of your creme and your personal preferences, there are many waxes, oils, colourants and essential oils you can fine tune your product with. These are just the basics. I expect you to explore, be creative and have fun with it. ( and read up about preservatives and opportunistic organisms).
  • For an excellent and informative website dedicated to all facets of lotion and creme making, recipes, instructions, and tutorials, I found a great resource.

I am told regularly by concerned friends that I should not share secrets, methods and successful recipes online. I disagree. I believe we are at a stage in our evolution as a global society that all information needs to be shared freely and openly. The internet is our collective brain and even our collective consciousness. We all draw from it, and contribute to it one way or another. The time for hiding things, for secrets and shadows in the world is past. We need to share whatever we have. If we all shared freely and none of us hoarded any resources, there would be more than enough of everything to go around. There would be no lack in the world, no poverty, and likely no war. If we all actively sought opportunities to share, the transformation would be immediate.  I also believe whatever we put out there always comes back to us in whatever form we need.

So. Have fun, be responsible for your health and wellbeing, and share what you have. You will always get more of what you give.

And always, always keep clear notes!

Your future self will thank you.



  1. I just made a batch of your spruce chest rub with some of my plant medicine students last weekend and we were thrilled with the results. i’ve been a bit resin-crazy over the last few years and have quite a collection that feels a bit like a map of all the places i’ve traveled. thank you for all the recipes you’ve shared here on your site! i just purchased your kenyan myrhh oil on etsy and am excited to work with it. i’m curious if you’ve ever made myrhh wine? any advice on preparing it? thank you!!

    1. Thank you Kira.
      I’m happy you found the formulas useful. I have never made Myrrh wine, though I don’t see why it couldn’t be included in the fermentation process. From the old texts I get the impression that Myrrh was traditionally added to already prepared wine. I assume the alcohol content would help dissolve the resin and essential oils while the water portion would dissolve the water soluble gum. In old formulas, Myrrh was added to wine to dull pain, grief and fear. Myrrh does in fact contain 2 compounds that are analgesic, and reduce pain….Often given to a condemned person before execution. If you do prepare some Myrrh wine, keep in mind that true to the source of its name, Mar, it really is bitter.

  2. Dan,
    I am grateful that I have found your site.
    i have always been interested in natural healing and wellness. My children tease that if the present were 300 years ago I’d be burned at the stake. Ha Ha. They come to me before going to the Dr.
    I just collected pine and spruce in the Canadian Rockies (no injury to the trees of course). I am so excited to incorporate them into my own apothecary. I soaps, lotion bars, salves etc for man and beast. (horses)
    I also just ordered Frankincense from you, can’t wait to get it.
    Your website is amazing and you are a very generous man to share all of this knowledge and wisdom.

    Thank you so much,
    Shintangle Studio , Alberta CA

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words Toni! It is gratifying to know the information on the blog is getting put to good use. Stay in touch and let me know if you have any questions along the way.

  3. Hello again Dan

    Ok I know this is maybe not the right page but here goes. I bought a glass still and have some franckinscence freareana . I wish to still for oil. My flask is only 500ml . Do I add the powder with water and then just distill…?

    A few question … Would it be better to soak franckinscence in strong alcohol first ?
    Is 500ml flask to boil too small … It’s only for me and my wife the medicine for cremes ?

    Thankyou so much .. You would not believe how grateful me and my wife are. I have healed a severe rash covering a quarter of my body since finding your site …. You will receive much good karma for your generosity … Bless your soul 😃

    Thankyou thankyou thankyou

    1. Hi Darren.
      I m happy you have found my site useful and helpful. That is the highest compliment.
      Im also happy to answer your questions if I can.
      First, I would say, don’t soak your Frankincense in alcohol. There is no need. Add the powder dry to your water.
      I realize you are stuck at the moment with a flask as you boiler. This makes it a little tricky when distilling oleoresins since they harden quickly when they cool down especially after their essential oils are removed.
      The solution is to be prepared, that when your distillation is finished, you have a receptacle into which you can quickly and safely pour the hot and still liquid contents of your flask/boiler.
      This way you can get most of the residual resin out of your flask before it hardens inside.
      In your favor is the fact that Boswellia Frereana is more powdery after distillation than other oleoresins and you will be able to scrape out most of the residue when it is cooled.
      As a very rough calculation, I would say that using a 500 ml. flask, you could put about 400ml. Water and about 100 grams powdered or rough ground Boswellia Frereana. If you distil 100 grams you should be able to get at least 6 ml. Of pure essential oil. Because your pot will be relatively full, I suggest a low steady boil and not a vigorous boil.
      If you could find a larger flask with a matching ground glass opening, you might be able to upgrade your unit to distill larger quantities.
      I hope that was of some help. If you have any other questions feel free to ask me.
      Good luck with your distillation!

  4. So glad we r meeting at some type of conscious level. Do you have any plans to create videos? I love reading but sometimes its hard to connect everything w out a lot of visual guidence. Either way im learning; im very grateful for your kindness and collective agreement that vital survival information should be shared and not hoarded for the benefit..growth and sustainability of humanity.

    1. Hi Krystee. Thank you so much for visiting and for your supportive words.
      I do intend to spend more time doing “How to” videos for my written posts. I just moved myself and my business out of the country today after months of packing and preparations, and finally feel I have the time and focus to make a practice of video recording. So with any luck you will start to see videos listed on my blog. Keep an eye on the sidebar.
      Best regards

  5. Hello
    Thanks for this website :-). I have just made my first crime with francescence, Mary and other resins. I have tested it on myself and my skin says great. Now doing a skin test on my wife. Hopefully the children will also use in time. I love working with this sort of thing. It all started many years ago when I healed a chronic Xma sufferer with some herbs from the woods. Not done anything since then, but I found this site and it has awakened a new incentive. Thanks so much I will be using this site often. Do you know of any good books or sites to help me get deeper into the art 🙂 …. Darren

    1. Darren.
      Thank you for visiting, and thank you for your kind words. It is inspiring to see your passion rekindled! There are so many books on using herbs nowadays, it is difficult to suggest the best! I always recommend people read Maude Grieves book, “A modern Herbal”. It is an extensive collection of practical information on traditional and modern uses of herbs from sources that include many of the old classic English Herbals. It is full of information and provides an excellent reference book that you may find useful, years down the road. Here is a link to an online copy.
      I always get people to read Nicholas Culpeper. Especially if you feel that there is an art to what we do. Culpeper saw healing as much of an art as a science. There is a link to his book in my section-Astrodynamics/Medical Astrology-Which you will find at the top of the blog in the navigation bar. There are many good herbal websites. I would just browse online and see which writers or websites jump out at you or resonate with you. It sounds like this is as much a personal journey of rediscovery, as it is a gathering of new information. You may need your “gut” and intuition as much as your intellect and reasoning skills.
      Wishing you the best of luck on your herbal journey Darren.
      Please let me know if I can be of help down the road.

      1. Thank you for the reply and the links😀
        I will investigate some of the titles and yes I feel it is a gut instinct thing at the moment. Some interest is arising in alchemy also ” I have no idea why ” I guess the same advice shines through again, life seems to be guiding me somewhere and I guess I should just go with it ” I am an impatient type ” 😀.

        Thank you again and yes next I am going to try extracting some oleo resins as per your instructions. I feel a slight caution inside me regarding ingesting these, yet another side feels their is some medicinal value somewhere “o the dichotomy ” .

        By the way I nearly forgot the creme has now healed a very large rash I had under my arm, been there for eight months now it’s almost gone, I have only been using a few days …. So all good I want to further my experimentation with different strengths and ratios and record my findings, then test on others maybe my findings could be of use to help others …..

        Anyways I am prattling on again 😀 I will keep in touch …. Thanks again Darren

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