Brief Overview of
GUMS, RESINS, RESINOIDS
can be natural or synthetic. Our
discussion only allows for natural gums.
Strictly speaking, gums are always water-soluble.
As an example: Gum
acacia, Gum Tragacanth.
Acacia gum (Acacia
) also called gum arabic. Water
soluble and when dissolved in boiling water, clarifies and makes a
very good adhesive that is used, among other things, to make scented
beads and pomanders. The
gum is edible, nutritive, and acts as a demulcent to soothe
irritated mucous membranes. It
is also an ingredient in medicinal compounds for diarrhea,
dysentery, coughs and catarrh. The
bark of the acacia plant is very rich in tannin.
(Herbs & Things)
Resins are sometimes called gums.
However, gums form solutions or "sols" with water,
resins do not. Resins
are insoluble in water.
The word "gum" is truly an herbal term, as gums are
used in herbalism to make sticky solutions in cosmetics, or to
adhere dry ingredients together.
2. Gum resin. Extruded
naturally from plants or trees.
Consist of both a gum and a resin, sometimes with a small
amount of EO.
3. Oleo-gum-resin is a term to describe oleo (oily or fatty in nature
or look) gum (partly soluble in water) resin (partly or wholly
soluble in alcohol). Therefore,
an oleo-gum-resin has a nature that is partly soluble in water and
alcohol and looks oily. Consists
mainly of oil, gum and resin.
Frankincense, and Opopanax.
4. Oleo-resin. Prepared or
natural material. Exude
from trees - trunks or barks. Sometimes
they are prepared and form as an evaporation residue.
Oleoresin often contains "fixed" oils.
They can be described with color: clear, viscous, and
Are Natural or Prepared.
Exude from trees or plants.
They are formed by nature and some resins are prepared in the
laboratory as oleoresins. Resins
are solid to semi-solid, amorphous.
If they contain no water, they are translucent.
They are odorless, not soluble in water.
Can be described generally as products that are used as
incense, such as Copal from
and Amber. These only
yield fragrance upon burning.
Rosin - Prepared from resins. It is the solid amber residue obtained
after the distillation of crude turpentine (gum rosin), or of
naphtha extract from Pine stumps (wood rosin) used in adhesives,
varnishes, inks, etc. and for treating the bows of stringed
Obtained from resins. Resins
are solvent extracted, yielding an alcohol-soluble substance, that
is less dense, more sticky and liquid-like, called a Resinoid.
These are viscous liquids and semi-solid.
In a perfectly prepared resinoid, the odiferous material or
essential oil is left intact. Olibanum
resinoid is typical. The
Olibanum or natural oleo-gum-resin has been made soluble for perfume
use by the removal of the water-soluble gum.
Often the terms gum, resin, resinoid, essential oil are used
to describe the steps in the processing of natural exudates from
plants, such as Myrrh and Frankincense.
These two wild trees, which to this day are still left in
their wild state, organically grown, not cultivated, or farm-grown,
are harvested by tribes such as the Bedouins in Somali.
The trees are excised. The
globs of gum exude from the excision.
The globs (or tears) are collected, brought to market, graded
according to size and color. In
the case of Frankincense, the smaller, lighter-colored tears are
used in ritual and as church incense.
The tears are graded in the marketplace, purchased by large
companies and sent to their home countries for processing.
The tears are processed by heat and extraction to produce the
purified resin. (See
above) The resin is then
further processed via the application of alcohol in a vacuum
extraction to produce the liquid resinoid.
The resinoid is then further processed with the application
of heat, alcohol, vacuum-extraction, and distillation to produce the
essential oil. As each
of these steps progress, less and less substance is produced, and
the price goes higher and higher.
A plasticizer has to be added in extremely small amounts
(1/10th of 1%) to the essential oil to keep it in liquid form.
Leave an essential oil of Frankincense or Myrrh out in the
air, and it will soon solidify as the alcohol and plasticizer
Frankincense and Myrrh, Labdanum, Galbanum, do not yield true
essential oils according to aromatherapy terms.
Olibanum, also called Frankincense, is a natural
oleo-gum-resin. It is a
physiological, liquid product in the bark of several Boswellia
species. (See the
photographs) It contains many interesting chemical compounds
including verbenone that is an anti-fungal. Rosemary CT verbenone
also contains this compound. A combination of essential oils of
Frankincense, Rosemary verbenone, Spikenard, and Tea Tree would make
a very potent combination to combat fungus infection.
Trees are most abundant in Somalia, Southern Arabia and parts
Bedouins make incisions of the bark at regular intervals.
This increases the production of Olibanum.
The viscous oleo-gum-resin oozes out, but will resinify or
solidify when left out in the sun.
This is then broken off its branches or collected from the
ground. It is sorted and
graded in the port of Djibouti, Aden, etc.
Grading is strictly by looks.
The bigger the tear, the more complete is the resinification,
and therefore, the loss of its essential oils.
"Experience in selecting the correct material for
distillation or for the extraction of resinoids or absolutes, is a
rare and valuable skill, and is partly based upon years of
experimenting with the distillation and extraction of all grades of
In Fantastic Trees, Menninger divides odiferous trees into
two categories: the
bouquets and the stinkers.
In the same book, Botting describes Frankincense
The frankincense tree...looks like a decomposing animal.
It has stiff low branches.
The leaves are scant, curly, and indented.
A thick bark and a tiny whitish peel cling closely round the
trunk of a peculiarly blotchy color.
The woody fiber of the tree, distended with sap, looks like
rotting animal flesh, and the clear, yellowing-white resin comes
from incisions with a strong aroma.
The fruit is a berry the size of a marble and the flowers are
few, red and germanium-like on the end of short spikes.
The word Olibanum
comes from the Arabic al-luban
and means 'the milk' —
the true incense. The
word Frankincense comes from the old French word fraunk-encens
and also means the true or real incense.
Perfume and Flavor
Materials of Natural Origin by Steffen Arctander.
All rights reserved 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006. No part of this article may
2. Volume 2, Guenther's The
Trees by Edwin A. Menninger.
& Things by Jeanne Rose.
5. The New Shorter
be used without prior permission from Jeanne Rose.
© Authors Copyright Jeanne Rose,