Recently we used Benzoin resinoid as a base for the fragrance in our Sweet Seduction Lotion that we produced in a small batch for our February Lotion of the month.
So, what is Benzoin resinoid and where does it originate?
Natural benzoin is the sap of one of two trees found in south Asia. Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam have trees of Styrax tonkinensis, and the Indonesian island of Sumatra has trees of Styrax benzoin. Both of
these trees have sap that is tapped for fragrance and flavoring.
Incense and perfume have long used benzoin resinoid as a basis for their fragrance. Ancient Egyptians used a mixture of labdanum and benzoin to create ambergris that was used in many of their religious ceremonies.
Hindus used an incense called luban that was made from benzoin in their temples. It may have been mentioned in the Old Testament as onycha (but this has not been definitively proven).
The thick brown liquid is allowed to harden when it flows from the center of the trees. These hard lumps of dried tree sap are easy to ship and can later be processed to create this sweet complex liquid used for
scents associated with incense. As a fragrance it is used in many kinds of incense, and is prized for the sensual and dream-like effect that can relax the mind and body. In perfume, it acts as a fixative, slowing the essential
oils from evaporating and creating a sweet warm base for complex fragrances.
Historically it was also used to heal wounds. Without contemporary antibiotics, a substance that could be carried easily and that had healing properties, would have been important as a medicine.
Benzoin resinoid is also used in foods for it’s vanilla-like flavor, enhancing beverages, chewing gum, pudding and other flavorings.
We substituted it in our Sweet Seduction Lotion as a substitute for Cypress because of its sweeter scent and its sensual properties.
For historical information check out Styrax and onycha in Wikipedia. For details of its production today,
check out New Directions Aromatics.