Benzoin Essential Oil: Origins and Uses
Benzoin essential oil comes from the Styrax tree, which is native to the areas of Java and Sumatra in Indonesia, as well as Thailand. The origin of the tree determines the form of benzoin that is extracted. For example, Styrax benzoin is commonly known as benzoin Sumatra due to its Indonesian origin and Styrax tonkinensis is commonly known as benzoin Siam, reflecting its Thai origin. The most commonly used benzoin is the Sumatran version due to its greater availability.
The Styrax benzoin tree is a tropical tree that can grow as high as 15 metres. The tree is identified by oval leaves, small hard fruits and white flowers. Benzoin is actually stored in the trunk of the tree. When making a cut to the tree trunk, a balsamic liquid erupts, which very quickly becomes solid due to its reaction with the outside air and sunlight. This solid balsamic resin is reddish brown in colour and is often referred to as ‘gum’.
This simplified extraction process is usually done after a tree has reach seven years of age for best harvesting. The dried gum that results is then harvested a few months later, but the fact that it has solidified can make this difficult. As such, a solvent is used to make it easier to collect and ultimately, dilute it sufficiently to turn into an oil. Alcohol is often used to make the product more usable.
How to use Benzoin essential oil
Benzoin essential oil has been used for centuries, for various purposes. So what can we potentially use it for? The most common association we make with Benzoin oil is its creamy, vanilla-like smell and warm feeling. So, it makes sense that Benzoin essential oil features so extensively in the perfume industry and aromatherapy market.
It is thought that Arab traders introduced Benzoin to the Greeks, Romans and Egyptians, who adopted it for its aromatic qualities. Eventually, it made its way to England and was initially used for the same purposes due to its pleasant perfume.
On the topic of scent, you could use Benzoin essential oil to blend with other oils to create fragrances for use in diffusers and incense. It works particularly well with scents such as sandalwood, cedar wood and even citrus oils such as orange and mandarin – such combinations can give a warm and calming smell. Experiment with these types of scents – you’re sure to experience some delicious results. Benzoin oil is most effectively used in diffusing apparatus that works well with thick oils (due to its naturally thick and viscous nature). Also, despite its beautiful smell it is not recommended that you use it in the bath, as it can cause stains to the enamel of your bathtub.
Benzoin is often used in soaps, potpourris, massage oils, and toiletries. Cosmetically, it can also be used in creams to give the skin an appearance of greater elasticity and reduced redness (however, it is not recommended that you use it on chapped or broken skin).
Benzoin oil also acts as a preservative, and can be added to certain ointments to increase their shelf life.
This natural essential oil has been around for centuries, and yet its uses still apply to the modern world. You can purchase your very own bottle of this natural wonder from N-Essentials here.