Botanical Name: Myroxylon pereirae
Balsam Peru comes from a slow growing Central and South American evergreen tree. Balsams are tree sap resins that flow when the bark of the tree is pierced. Balsam Peru is also known as black balsam or Indian balsam. Although it is found abundantly in El Salvador, it was named as we know it today by Europeans during colonial times because it was exported to Europe from Peru. This oil is soluble in alcohol.
The resin can be used in its natural state, or the essential oil can be extracted. Although not well known by most people, Balsam Peru is used extensively in food for flavor, and in cosmetics and perfume for fragrance. It is an excellent fixative for a fragrance blend.
Fragrance Family: Earthy
Perfumery Note: Base
Sweet and rich aroma. This oil contains elements of vanilla and cinnamon, as well as some citrus components.
Promotes a calm, soothing positive mood, and enhances focus.
Similar intensity and personality as frankincense, myrrh, benzoin, and elemi. Used as a base in many oriental, or "floriental" perfume styles, and is often partnered with amber.
Jen’s blending notes:
Use caution with herbal fragrances, as they are the most likely to conflict
In resin form, cold pressed (and possibly other extraction methods) citrus essential oils will cause the Balsam Peru to coagulate into a hard mass. Other oils may cause some clumping.
If you pre-mix your fragrances, Balsam Peru will settle to the bottom. Use a skewer to loosen the sediment if the blend is in an aromatherapy bottle to ensure uniform distribution.
Jen’s soapmaking notes (based on the Flowersong soap recipe and methods):
Has a high flashpoint (200F), fragrance persists through the heat of cold process soapmaking. When using other oils that are not as resilient, the fragrance of the Balsam Peru may become more pronounced than in the original blend.
Adds a softening characteristic to finished soap that translate to richness of lather. Excessive use may cause a soap that melts quickly.
Resin form will color soap a dark brown that is resistant to Titanium Dioxide – although it can be lightened enough to add a tint to the brown. Use caution with colors that make “mud” like red or blue.