How is Frankincense Essential Oil Created?

boswellia-tree

 

The walnut tree is known for its beautiful and strong wood. The cherry tree is known for its flowers. It isn’t the wood or the flower of the boswellia that is most prized, however. It is boswellia carteri gum resin oil that gives the boswellia its value.

Creating Frankincense Essential Oil

Whether you’ve been in the mountains or have had a Christmas tree in your living room, you are familiar with pine tree sap (also called resin). The Boswellia tree also produces a resin. It is from the resin of the boswellia tree that frankincense is extracted.

To harvest the resin, the trunk of the tree is sliced diagonally with a knife or punctured with a knife or axe every 2 – 4 weeks during the dry season. The resin seeps through the cuts or punctures to the surface of the tree where it is collected. Harvesting can be done without cutting or puncturing the tree – some of the sap naturally makes its way to the surface of the bark where it can be collected.

No matter how the resin is brought to the surface of the tree, it is collected and then left in the sun to dry. Typically the oil is left in a basket to dry. During the drying process, the oil separates from the rest of the resin, which hardens.  According to the Indian Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences,  “The semi-solid gum-resin is allowed to remain in the basket for about a month during which its fluid content locally known as ‘ras’ keeps flowing out. The residue, semi-solid to solid part, is the gum-resin which hardens slowly into amorphous, tear-shaped products with an aromatic scent. Then, it is broken into small pieces by wooden mallet or chopper and during this process all impurities including bark pieces etc. are removed manually.” (1) Frankincense essential oil is made by steam distillation.

The boswellia tree grows naturally in the Eastern Hemisphere, in African countries and in Asia (including India and the mountains of the Arabian Peninsula). The tree thrives in dry mountainous regions.  The origin of Nature’s Sunshine Frankincense Essential Oil is Somalia.

In some parts of the world, where frankincense is more common, it is often used in personal care products. The bark of a boswellia tree also has uses.

With Myrrh and Sandalwood, it is part of the wood scent family.

History of Frankincense

 “In ancient times, Hindus, Babylonians, Persians, Romans, Chinese and Greeks as well as the people of old American civilizations used natural resins primarily for embalming and for its incense in cultural functions. They firmly believed that when these materials get in contact with fire, the smoke and the fragrance they produce, not only soothe their souls but also please their gods.” (1)

In Egypt, frankincense was being used by at least 1500 BC. (2)

Frankincense Essential Oil and Other Uses

ancient_essential-oils

Frankincense has been used in:
Essential Oil
Incense
Perfumes
Soap
Toothpaste

Footnotes
1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3309643/
2. http://www.nhm.ac.uk/nature-online/species-of-the-day/scientific-advances/industry/boswellia-sacra/

 

Additional References

http://www.mei.edu/sqcc/frankincense

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