Online Encyclopedia


Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V03, Page 757 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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BENZOIN, or Gum BENJAMIN (supposed to be from Arab. luban, frankincense, the first syllable being dropped in Romanic as if it were the article), a balsamic resin obtained from Styrax benzoin, a tree of considerable size, native to Sumatra and Java, and from other species of Styrax. It is obtained by making incisions in the bark of the trees, and appears to be formed as the result of the wound, not to be secreted normally. There are several varieties of benzoin in commerce: (1) Siam benzoin, which apparently does not come from Styrax benzoin, is the finest and most aromatic, and occurs in the form of small " tears, " rarely exceeding 2 in. in length by 1 in. in thickness, and of " blocks " made up of these tears agglomerated by a clear reddish-brown resin. The odour of Siam benzoin is partly due to the presence of vanillin, and the substance contains as much as 38 % of benzoic acid but no cinnamic acid. (2) Sumatra benzoin occurs only in masses formed of dull red resin enclosing white tears. It contains about 20 % of cinnamic acid in addition to 18 or even more of benzoic. (3) Palembang benzoin, an inferior variety, said to be obtained from Styrax benzoin in Sumatra, consists of greyish translucent resinous masses, containing small white opaque tears. It does not appear to contain cinnamic acid. Large quantities of benzoin are used as incense. Its medicinal uses depend on the contained benzoic acid (q.v.).
End of Article: BENZOIN

Additional information and Comments

The size of styrax occuring from Sumatra (indonesia) or Laos are not considerable, only fifteen up to twenty meters. Benzoin resin available in the trade to day is obtain from to species, styrax benzoin - listed as benzoe sumatranus in the european pharmacopéea (EP)-, and styrax tonkinensis listed as benzoe tonkinensis also in the EP. Styrax tokinensis is exploited only in Laos to day, this is his country of origin as far as we know, and confirmed since 1892. At farm gate level, the two anthropic exsudate are similar in aspect (almonst, shifting and dust) but not in the smell. Our company exploite styrax tonkinensis since twenty years ! Regards
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