Benzoin

Fragrance Families: floral, oriental, powdery
Characteristics: warm, rich, sensous
Fragrance Examples: Parfumerie Générale – PG25 – IndochineThe Different Company – Une Nuit MagnétiqueIsabey – La Route d´Emeraude

Origin and History

Benzoin resin is a substance used in the perfumery industry for a broad range of purposes.

Coming from the bark of several species of trees in the Genus Styrax Benzoin resin or Benzoin gum is widely used as a flavoring, in medicine and in the cosmetic industry, as well.

For centuries, this resin was used as a flavoring agent and as a powerful medicinal substance. Traditionally valued for its antiseptic and healing properties, this substance became a popular topic and inhalant remedy.

In certain cultures, Benzoin was also used to make incense mainly because of its rich scent which resembles vanilla.

Cultivation and Processing

Cultivation and collection is fairly easy in tropical and subtropical areas where the original Genus species develops naturally. Trees are generally planted as seedlings in a way that they can get protection from older trees.

Many people mistakenly call any of the Genus species “Gum Tree”. Nonetheless, there is no such thing as a gum tree as the resin used for perfumery is a natural reaction of these species to external damage. When the tree branches are harmed in any way, a sticky resinous substance is produced in order to heal the area. As is to be expected, growers slash the trees in triangular fashion and wait for the resin to form.

This whitish, serum-like, silky substance is eventually collected and used in the cosmetic industry for a variety of purposes. Most effective collection takes place when the trees are around six or seven years old.

Even so, other parts of the Genus tree can also be used for perfumery. The leaves and flowers of this shrub-like species are particularly fragrant and have been used to develop synthetic scents in recent years. Commercial growers are constantly renewing their plantations as this species generally dies before they are 17 years old.

Making the Perfume

The hard resinous material that is collected from the trees is normally available in chunks and can be powderized. Benzoin absolute is made by extracting the solvents. Unlike most other absolutes that are somewhat watery, Benzoin is thick and sticky. So much so, that many producers sell it in jars, rather than in bottles.

This substance can be used for aromatherapy and for the creation of incense, as well.

Identifying the Perfume

Perfectly fitting under the category of Resins and Balsams, Benzoin-based perfumes have been found to work well with a variety of other fragrances, mainly citrus fragrances, such as oranges, tangerines, bergamot, mandarins or lime. There seems to be a general consent that the rich vanilla scent is enhanced by the inclusion of more flowery citric fragrances.

In addition, because of its origin, it blends optimally with similar resinous wood oils, such as sandalwood or cedar wood. For the creation of Incense-like scents, patchouli and Vetiver also make great choices for perfume production.

Finally, it is the depth of its fixative properties the main reason that makes Benzoin so widely sought-after in perfumery. Any perfume which is fixed with Benzoin will be instantly transformed into a richer, more sensuous scent.