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The Aromahead Blog - Aromatherapy Education and Resources

What is Peru Balsam? (+ 3 DIY Recipes!)

by Karen Williams on March 23, 2020

What is Peru Balsam? 3 DIY Recipes!

How to Use Peru Balsam in Aromatherapy

Peru Balsam is similar to a resin.

It’s a thick, sticky plant substance, like sap or gum.

And it has a gorgeous aroma! It’s full of components similar to what’s found in clove, cinnamon, and vanilla. The scent is light and delicious!

Peru Balsam also has a lot to offer our skin, and can support our respiratory health. (In this, it’s very like other plant resins—such as Frankincense, Myrrh, and Elemi.) It’s the perfect aromatherapy ingredient for urgent skincare salves, daily body moisturizers, and immune support blends.

I’ll share some recipes for how to use Peru Balsam below.

First, let’s touch on how it’s made and what Peru Balsam is, exactly.

How is Peru Balsam Made?

Can you guess where Peru Balsam is native to?

(I’ll let you guess…)

If you said El Salvador, you’re right! (Haha!)

The beautiful Myroxylon balsamum var. pereirae tree grows wild in the jungles of that country. We call it “Peru Balsam” because in the 17th century, the Spanish shipped it from Central America, to Peru… and from Peru, they shipped it on to Europe. So the Europeans began calling it “Peru Balsam.”

Distillers in El Salvador collect the aromatic balsam from the trees in a time-consuming process.

The tree is tapped three different times, and cloths are laid on the inner layers of the bark to collect the balsam. After 2 or 3 weeks, the cloths are boiled to purify them, and then pressed to extract the balsam.

This creates a thick, molasses-like oleoresin.

How to Use Peru Balsam in Aromatherapy!

You can use the oleoresin itself to infuse your oils and skincare products, or you can get pre-infused products—like Peru Balsam infused jojoba.

(You can find the oleoresin here… and the ready-made Peru Balsam infused jojoba is here!)

How to Use Peru Balsam Oleoresin

Working with Peru Balsam oleoresin is simple once you get the hang of it!

It doesn’t dissolve into oils or water. When you add a small dollop of the oleoresin to your favorite carrier oil (like jojoba!), it will sink to the bottom of the bottle and stay there in a “glob.”

After several weeks, your carrier will be infused with the delicate, luxurious aroma of Peru Balsam!

You can use the oleoresin to scent your ingredients for body butters, lotions, skin care salves, chest rubs (great for respiratory support!), ointments for itchy or irritated skin, perfumes, and more.

NOTE: Though Peru Balsam doesn’t dissolve into oils or water, it will dissolve into alcohol and (to an extent) castor oil.

Use Your Peru Balsam products for:

  • Daily skincare
  • Soothing and protecting small cuts and scrapes
  • Relieving bug bites and stings
  • Calming red, itchy, irritated skin
  • Respiratory support body oils
  • Chest rubs when a child is sniffling (it’s gentle for kids!)
  • Heart-opening perfume oil
  • And more! Get creative!

How to Use Peru Balsam Infused Jojoba

What if you don’t want to work with the sticky, thick oleoresin?

You can get ready-made Peru Balsam infused jojoba.

Use it to make any of the body products I mentioned above.

If you’ve ever used vanilla-infused jojoba, the Peru Balsam infusion is a lot like that. The aroma is more complex with a softer vanilla, though.

SAFETY NOTE: Before blending with Peru Balsam oleoresin or an infused oil, it’s a good idea to perform a small patch test on your inner arm, to be sure your skin likes it. A small number of people don’t respond well to it.

Let’s Make 3 Peru Balsam Recipes!

Peru Balsam Skincare Salve

This Peru Balsam recipe makes a firm salve you can use to comfort small cuts or scrapes. It’s soothing, protective against germs, and can help calm inflammation. (Be sure to wash the area with soap and water before applying your salve around the cut or scrape.)

  • ½ oz (14 g) Beeswax (Cera alba)
  • 1.5 oz (45 ml) Peru Balsam infused jojoba (Simmondsia chinensis)
  • 30 drops Lavender essential oil (Lavandula angustifolia)

For Kids!

Let’s also make a gentler version for children. We can use the same amount of beeswax and Peru Balsam infused jojoba. But we’ll decrease the amount of Lavender.

  • 12 drops Lavender essential oil (Lavandula angustifolia)

Directions

  1. Set up the “Stovetop Melting Method.” Put a Pyrex measuring cup in a soup pot that’s about ¼ full of gently boiling water.
  2. Put the beeswax into the Pyrex and allow it to melt.
  3. Add the Peru Balsam infused jojoba, and melt it with the beeswax.
  4. Remove the blend from heat, and add the Lavender essential oil, stirring gently with a glass stirring rod, or the handle of a stainless steel spoon.
  5. Pour your melted salve into two 1 oz (30 ml) tins.

Peru Balsam Skincare Salve

Peru Balsam Infused Tamanu Oil

This is a gorgeous skin repair blend for very irritated, red, chapped, or itching areas. It’s even helpful for scar care.

And it’s so simple to make!

Simply take a 1 oz (30 ml) bottle of tamanu oil (Calophyllum inophyllum), and add 2–3 ml of Peru Balsam oleoresin.

You can either heat your oleoresin until it’s liquidy enough to pour a few mls into your tamanu oil.

Or you can simply take a small “dollop” and put it in the tamanu bottle!

Let your infusion sit for two to three weeks. When it has an aroma that you love, pour off the tamanu oil into another bottle.

The Peru Balsam oleoresin will keep its aroma… meaning you can refill your empty tamanu bottle with another carrier, and make another infusion!

Peru Balsam + Palo Santo Perfume

Carry this grounding, emotionally balancing roll-on blend with you, and use it as often as you like throughout the day!

  • 10 ml Peru Balsam infused jojoba (Simmondsia chinensis)
  • 3 drops Palo Santo essential oil (Bursera graveolens)

All you have to do is pour your jojoba into a 10 ml roll-on bottle. Then add your drops of Palo Santo, snap the roller-top into place, and ta da! You’re done!

peru balsam palo santo perfume

Now you know how to make Peru Balsam aromatherapy products!

Which sounds more fun to you—using the oleoresin, or the ready-made infused oil?

I’d love to know what products you’d like to make! Leave a comment below and help inspire others.

Karen Williams
Karen serves as Co-Director of Education at Aromahead Institute, where she works closely with students and helps them earn aromatherapy certification. Karen’s strong values for healthcare, education, and sustainable practices have guided her entire career, and remain the principles that shape her daily activities at Aromahead.

Topics: essential oils and skin healing, resin, tamanu oil, salve, salve for moisturizing, essential oils for skin, perfume with essential oils, essential oil perfume, peru balsam

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