Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Elemi: Essential Oil of the Philippines

Majority of the world's Elemi comes from the Philippines. Our country is the world's source of this exudate coming from the trunks of Canarium trees since the late 1800s. The reason is because only here can commercial quantities be found.

Manila Elemi tree with resin harvesting
What's known globally as the Manila Elemi comes from the species Canarium luzonicum, known locally as "piling liitan," "sahing," "malapili" and "pagsahingin." Its called as such because of its close resemblance to its cousin, the Pili tree which bears fruits with huge nuts. These tall Canarium luzonicum trees are mostly found in the wild, rarely cultivated. Naturally, the tree secretes an aromatic, resinous substance. With the aid of some cutting tools, the secretion of resin can be induced by chipping off parts of the bark. In the past, farmers believed that harvesting resin will eventually kill the tree, which is possible if they cut too deep and too many.

Every week, an elemi farmer will make an incision and wait for a few days to a week and harvest the semi-solid resin. These are collected and sent to middlemen or directly to companies for either exportation or processing. Almost the whole year round the trees produces resin but are low in some months.

Extracting the essential oil from Elemi, one needs to distill the resin. Casa de Lorenzo Organic Products distill Elemi Essential Oil from Canarium luzonicum and Canarium ovatum. The distillation can take anywhere from 8 hours to a full 24 hours depending on the efficiency of the distillation equipment and the resin. The resulting condensate is essential oil and hydrosol which naturally separates and are stored in different containers respectively.

The two different Elemi Essential Oils vary as well in their character and chemical composition. The essential oil from Canarium ovatum is sharper and more spicier while the Canarium luzonicum is much more sweeter, mellow and balanced. Both are great alternatives to Frankincense in terms of fragrance. Benefits of Elemi Essential Oil include anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, analgesic, soothes muscles, reduces wrinkles and aides in minor respiratory problems. It has also found increasing usage as an aid in meditation and higher spiritual awareness because of Elemi's affinity with magical and religious consciousness.