Tolu/Peru balsam versus Siam benzoin

    Tolu/Peru balsam versus Siam benzoin

    post #1 of 40
    Thread Starter 

    After buying so many oils recently I'm a little strapped for cash. Could someone please tell me how they compare so that I don't have to buy all of them? Which would you say smells the most oriental and the most vanilla and cinnamon like? I have Sumatran benzoin but it's too deep and chocolatey for my needs. Thanks.

    Edited by Pears - 8/29/13 at 1:44am
    post #2 of 40

    Benzoin Siam has a smoother, sweeter more vanilla smell than Benzoin Sumatra. Definitely worth getting the Siam version.

    Toluhas more of an oriental, cinnamon smell, having more cinnamates in it.

    Peru is sort of in between the two and has the most balsamic smell of the three.

    I suggest you look at getting all three eventually, but I was going to choose just one for now, I would go for the benzoin Siam. Mixing the two types of benzoin will result in a more oriental smell anyway if you need that.

    Be aware that IFRA has limited Peru Balsam extracts and distillates to 0.4% of the finished product.

    post #3 of 40
    Thread Starter 

    Thanks, Mark, that's helped me out alot. I'm not too concerned about the IFRA because the fragrance will be for personal use.

    post #4 of 40
    Tolu has a burnt plastic aspect, the least vanilla like. Balsam Peru is the most vanilla like, benzoin Sumatra is somewhere in between and the alike benzoin Siam is probably the most used of these.
    Benzoin Siam is more powdery than Sumatra. In case you had to choose one of these I would recommend a 50% solution of Benzoin Siam resinoid, sometimes sold as Benzoin essential oil (which is a non existing oil, at least not general commercialy available).

    I would recommend not to keep purchasing new materials before you are familiar with the ones you have, in general good mixing is more important than a large amount of materials, mixing is learned by doing.
    post #5 of 40
    Thread Starter 

    Thankyou, janmeut. I only buy new essential oils after I've tested the ones that I already have and find something lacking.

    Does anyone know if the statement from the site below has any validity to it? I have my doubts.

    "Tolu balsam resinoids and absolutes are obtained through extraction with solvents. However, natural extraction has now been completely abandoned and the product has been replaced with a reconstituted substitute."

    post #6 of 40

    PA does sell a reconstituted tolu, but I've also seen tolu absolute on sale at Hermitage. Personally, I find both tolu and peru balsam to contain a sour note, which I dislike. I love my sweet and powdery Siam benzoin.

    post #7 of 40

    I think Osmoz is in general reliable, but as far as I know both types are on the market.

    Payan Bertand for instance, a very good and reliable smaller French producer of fragrance materials supplies both an absolute of tolu and a substitute.

    Robertet, one of the top 10 suppliers of fragrance materials even sells an organic resinoid of tolu.

    As with lots of natural materials a lot of the 'natural' material is probably adulterated, for a product like tolu balsam that is not very hard: it contains a lot of components that are hard to analyse with GC, which is usualy the most sophisticated analyse tool in the fragrance industry.

    Edited by janmeut - 8/10/13 at 1:42am
    post #8 of 40

    Jan, I am delighted to see you back on the forum again.

    post #9 of 40
    Thread Starter 

    This is very useful information guys, thanks. I noticed that the Tolu absolute offered by Hermitage is from France, so I wonder if it could be sourced from Payan Bertand.

    The benzoin offered by Hermitage has a rather ambiguous description. They've listed the botanical name as Styrax benzoin but the origin as Siam. Siam can't be the origin because it doesn't exist anymore and the name Siam is used only for Styrax tonkinensis. I've emailed them for further clarification.

    Edited by Pears - 8/10/13 at 3:05am
    post #10 of 40

    As far as I know, benzoin name associated with the area in which the resin was collected, and is therefore called Siam, Laos, Sumatra. But since the country of Siam does not exist, this seems incorrect and unclear. I look at Arctander. He describe Benzoin tinkture like prapared from Benzoin Siam "tears". Benzoin resinoid - from Siam or Sumatra. Sumatra benzoin grown intensively in Sumatra and Malaizya; Benzoin Siam nativ to Indochina, and "the name Siam is attached to this type of benzoin because of the fact, that the merchandiche is often exported via Siam (Thailand) in transit".
    Benzoin sumatra contains benzoresinyl cinnamate, benzoresinyl benzoate, cinnamic acid, styrene, and less than Siam vanillin. Benzoin Siam - benzoic acid (10-12percent) and major constituent Coniferyl benzoate(65-75).
    Benzoin Siam from hermitageoils wery sweet and vanillic, I have it.

    post #11 of 40

    I wrote a blog post quite a while back about the differences between some of these similar materials which might help. Part of the reason I wrote it is because all of the names are fairly widely mis-used - not an uncommon phenomenon in perfumery unfortunately - as my most recent post on the names used for various natural extracts and what they mean illustrates.

    I've not used the benzoin from Hermitage so I'm not able to give an opinion on that particular product, but I note that the diluted versions say they are in Benzyl benzoate, which is also restricted by IFRA (for those that are concerned about such things) to 26.6% - hardly problematic - but it is also one of the 26 ingredients that have to be declared on the label if you are selling within the EU.

    post #12 of 40

    The issues with resins and botanical names IS very confusing.

    A short answer is that both are indications. 'Benzoin Siam' is best seen as a trade name for a certain type of resins. Originally it comes from Thailand (Siam being the 'old' name of Thailand), but it can come from other places, as long as it is alike the trade product mentioned.

    The 'botanical' name used in trade is 'Styrax Tonkinensis', but it may be from other Styrax trees that supply an alike resin. So in general it is not a guarantee that the resin is from the Styrax Tonkinensis, but that the resin is of a certain type.

    In case the resin is harvested in the wild it is even harder to make sure that the botanical origin is 'right', as it is with olibanum types, galbanum, asa foetida etc.

    Also interesting is the fact that a 50% solution of Benzoin Siam resinoid in DEP, DPG or an alike solvent in many cases is refered to as Essential oil of Benzoin Siam. Even suppliers and books on aromatherapy sell / write about this, ignoring the fact that it is 50% a synthetic solvent.

    post #13 of 40
    Thread Starter 

    Ramute, do you happen to have any Sumatran benzoin to compare to the Hermitage Siam benzoin? If they smell significantly different then it might suggest that the one from Hermitage is genuine Siam benzoin.

    Chris, many thanks for the links. I'm guessing that a large part of what makes Tolu and Peru balsams more sour or fruity smelling than benzoin is their naturally occuring much higher benzyl benzoate content. Some say that benzyl benzoate is almost odourless but it smells fairly floral and fruity to me.

    Janmeut, it's interesting to hear that the term Siam benzoin isn't exclusively used to mean benzoin from Styrax tonkinensis. I haven't heard back from Hermitage yet, so I might look elsewhere for benzoin sold as being specifically from tonkinensis.

    Edited by Pears - 8/12/13 at 12:14pm
    post #14 of 40

    I have Storax, Latin name Liquidambar orientalis, from Hermitageoils, and from one very good Lituanian supplier. These both are quite similar, but not the same; different nuances. But I don't call them "benzoin". They are not.

    Have simple benzoin from aromazone, FR, Styrax benzoin, or Benzoin tonkiniensis, but they call it Siam benzoin absolute too, country of origin Laos, 25 precent dilution in ethanol - more liguid than Hermitageoils 50 percent dilution in Benzyl benzoate, less rich in scent, less vanilic, clearer in color: And benzoin extract, solid resinoid, soluble in ethanol and warm oils, when I want use it, from Benzoin tonkiniensis, or Siam benzoin. From here, sorry for google translator, but in english version they haven't product description.

    But I haven't "Sumatra" benzoin and can't compare. Where you buy it? I read about it in Arctander book, but never smell. He also write, that Sumatra are low-cost, can be sold in few grades, used as a replacement of Siam benzoin. Hermitage Oils benzoin is genuine, really; but if Benzyl benzoate are problem to you, you find another source without trouble, not rare substance. I'm already intriguing about Sumatra benzoin, want smell it.

    post #15 of 40
    Thread Starter 

    Thanks, Ramute. How would you say that the Hermitage benzoin compares to the solid resinoid from the second source? I'd describe the aroma of the Styrax benzoin as vanillic and chocolaty. Does the Siam benzoin also smell chocolaty?

    post #16 of 40

    Hello Pears

    Adam Michael here from Hermitage Oils. I was reading Basenotes earlier today and saw this thread you have started.

    Normally I never get involved with forums ( I feel awkward doing this type of thing and am more a one on one person) but having seen your comment about no response to your email I thought it best to join Basenotes so I can communicate with you. I just want to say Pears I have no email from you. I am not sure if we have ever communicated on email or spoken on the phone but rest assured if I have an email I respond to it. Therefore can I ask you to try re-sending your email please and I will respond to you privately, alternatively feel free to give me a phone call in the afternoon after 3pm (its gone 2.30am as I write! ) and we can talk through any of your concerns . You really have nothing to worry about by the way and Ill actually send you a bottle for free so you can have a look for yourself.



    post #17 of 40

Loving perfume on the Internet since 2000