Copaiba Balsam

One of very few natural ingredients used just as it occurs in nature, without processing. More correctly called an oleoresin than a balsam, it is a mobile liquid produced from Copaifera langsdorffi and reticulata. It gives an extremely long-lasting woody-balsamic note with similarities to labdanum and a spicy undertone and is an excellent natural fixative.

Arctander gives a comprehensive description of the nature of the product: “Copaiba Balsam is a natural oleoresin which occurs as a physiological product in various Copaifera species. These are large trees which grow wild in the northeastern and central South America. The chief producer is Brazil, and smaller amounts come from Venezuela, British Guiana, Surinam and Colombia.

The oleoresin flows abundantly from large cavities in the trunks of these trees when holes are drilled for collection of the copaiba “balsam”.

Copaiba “Balsam” is a more or less viscous, brownish-yellow or grayish-greenish yellow liquid which dries to a hard and brittle resin upon exposure to air. The oleoresin is not always clear or translucent, but may be hazy due to its water content or to the continuous resinification of the essential oil part of the oleoresin, a process which starts already inside the trunk. The odor of ths oleoresin is very faint, mild-woody, slightly spicy-peppery and modestly tenacious.” 

He goes on to give this advice about usage: “Copaiba “Balsam” blends well with cinnamic alcohol, styrax, amyris oil, coumarin, Iavandin oil, cedarwood oils, ionones and methylionones, nitromusks, and numerous other common perfumery materials. It is often used as a fixative in low-cost violet and wood perfumes, for lavender or fougeres, in detergent perfumes, industrial perfumes, etc.” 

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