Name: Benzoin Resinoid
Alternative Names: Styrax benzoin, benzoin
Aroma Description (Perfumer’s Notes): From Pell Wall (Sweet, vanilla, balsamic, powdery, rich), musky, spicy, sweet, dark, earthy, resinous, incense-like leather, cinnamon
Archetypal Fragrances: Terre d’Hermes, Pi by Givenchy
Raw Material Family: Natural Ingredients
Where From: Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam
Emotional Rewards Prioritised: The aroma of Benzoin Resinoid commonly creates the following emotions: [visualizer id=”736″]The graph above shows what emotions Benzoin Resinoid often creates and the relative level of importance.
Benzoin Resinoid is an aromatic balsamic resin that has been known to European pharmacists and perfumers since the 15th century. It is tapped from a from the bark of several species of trees called the benzoin tree (the genus is Styrax). In tapping whereby a tree is deliberately damaged in a controlled manner to obtain it’s oily aromatic and resinous substance. 
Main Kinds of Benzoin Resin
Two kinds of benzoin are the benzoin Siam and benzoin Sumatra. We are concerned with benzoin Siam as it is used in the Fragrance and Flavour industry [*].
Benzoin Siam is obtained from Styrax tonkinensis. Whereas, benzoin Sumatra is from Benzoin Sumatra is obtained from Styrax benzoin, which grows predominantly on the island of Sumatra. [*]
Uses of Benzoin
In perfumery, it is used as a fixative as it slows the dispersion of the other perfume ingredients into the air.[*]
Other uses include:
- food flavouring
- medicine (as tincture of benzoin, for blisters antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and as an inhalant).
Clearing up confusion
To clear up some confusion the category of Balsam is not linked to Balsamic Vinegar. Balsam is the resinous exudate (or sap), which forms on trees. Whereas, the reason balsamic vinegar is called that “balsamic” is because of the word balsamico (from Latin balsamum, from Greek βάλσαμον) means “balsam-like” in the sense of “restorative” or “curative”.[*]. Just to make things more confusing, the chemical compound benzoin, is not the same as benzoin resin. The resin even does not contain this compound as the main component in this natural resin product is benzoic acid. (Benzoin which is made from a condensation reaction with the aldehyde Benzaldehyde.) The chemical compound of Benzoin is derived from Benzaldehyde. See more on Benzaldehyde at Pell Wall. Benzaldehyde is used to confer almond flavour to foods and scented products. [*]
Benzene is a colourless and highly flammable liquid with a sweet smell, and is responsible for the aroma around petrol (gas) stations.[*] However, this chemical compound “benzene” does inherit its name from benzoin resin). When In 1833, Eilhard Mitscherlich a German chemist produced what he called Benzin via the distillation of benzoic acid and calcium oxide (lime). Benzoic acid is an acidic material derived from benzoin resin by sublimation, and also named “flowers of benzoin”, or just “benzoic acid”.[*]
Benzene can be produced by a number of other methods too;
- From the oily residue derived from the production of illuminating gas (a mixture of hydrogen and hydrocarbon gases)
- From coal tar first done in 1845 by Charles Mansfield
- Thought is primarily produced via the petrochemical industry via the process of cracking.[*]
For Further Reading