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Making your own Frankincense oleoresin

Making Your Own Frankincense Oleoresin

Here at Tender Essence we love essential oils, but even we have to admit that there are sometimes better alternatives. Take Frankincense for example; it’s a great product with many health benefits and even contains Boswellic acid, a natural anti-inflammatory. Unfortunately, when distilled into an essential oil Frankincense loses a lot of its therapeutic properties.

Frankincense Resin
Frankincense Resin
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Luckily, there are other options. If you just want to experience the fragrance of Frankincense, while still enjoying its therapeutic benefits, you can use Frankincense Resin - it’s great in an oil burner.

If you’re looking for something you can use to create cosmetics, but retain all the therapeutic compounds found in Frankincense resin, then an oleoresin is what you need. These mixtures of resin and oil are versatile and can be used in many of the same ways as essential oils. Plus, you can produce them at home, thanks to an easy extraction method.

You can use this same process with Myrrh Gum. Myrrh essential oil is notoriously difficult to work with - it’s very thick so won't easily pour from a bottle (one of the reasons we don't sell it), and it doesn’t emulsify with other substances unless heated. Creating a Myrrh oleoresin allows you to work with the scent and thought-stimulating properties of Myrrh, minus the hassle.

While the scent of an oleoresin isn’t as strong as that of an essential oil, it does intensify when heated, making it perfect for use in an oil burner. Unlike essential oil, you can apply an oleoresin directly to the skin, meaning you can make the most of its natural anti-inflammatory and anti-aging properties. Try applying it to aching joints, or rubbing it into your face to revitalise skin cells and help prevent wrinkles. 

An oleoresin also makes a great ingredient for homemade cosmetics, such as creams and salves. It can infuse them with those highly-prized anti-aging and anti-inflammatory properties. Please note that if you plan to mix this with any other product, you will need to add a broad-spectrum preservative. 

These pictures show our process for making an oleoresin from Frankincense Resin.

To extract an oleoresin from Frankincense Resin or Myrrh Gum:

Grinding Frankincense resin in a pestle and mortar
  1. Grind the resin or gum into a fine powder. The finer you grind it, the quicker it will dissolve into the oil.
  2. Combine 1 part powder to 2 parts carrier oil (such as olive oil or grapeseed oil) in a glass container.
  3. Microwave the mixture in 1 minute bursts for 5 minutes, stirring in between. Alternatively, bring to the boil in a water bath then leave to simmer, stirring occasionally. The extraction is complete when no more resin can be dissolved (this may take a few hours when done in the water bath).

    Frankincense oleoresin in a jug separating sediment
  4. Remove the mixture from the heat source and wait for it to cool slightly before filtering. You can use a fine coffee filter or a clean piece of cotton cloth.
  5. Cover and set the mixture aside. Leave it until all the sediment has sunk to the bottom (this could take a day) then pour off the clear liquid into your container, discarding the sediment. 
  6. Your oleoresin is now ready to use! It should last for around 6 months unrefrigerated.

While oils don't require a preservative (as they have no water content) they will deteriorate or go rancid over time. To extend the life of your oil you can add an antioxidant - we recommend Vitamin E. You can purchase this in capsules; the contents of one 400 IU (10ug) capsule is enough to preserve 250ml of oil. 

If you try this out be sure to share your creations with us on Twitter or Facebook, and feel free to contact us if you have any further questions.
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Tender Essence - November 4, 2020

Hi Kasy,

We’re not really sure how that would work – when the resin is crushed into a powder it will dissolve into the cream and infuse it with the benefits. If you put the whole pieces in the outside may dissolve, but the effect won’t be as strong. Hopefully this helps!

- Tender Essence

Kasy - November 4, 2020

Can I still get the same benefits if I leave the frankincense resin in my facial oil without crushing it into a powder?

Tender Essence - August 8, 2020

Hello everyone!

Thank you all for your comments. We have now updated the article to answer all of your questions. We appreciate the feedback and hope everything is a little clearer now.

- Tender Essence

Christopher - August 8, 2020

You mention water bath and a time frame, but what temp? Boiling for 3 hours seems like overkill compared to a few intermittent minutes of microwaving.

Preet - August 8, 2020

Which preservative can I add into the oil to make last longer

BRit - April 22, 2020

Can you mix this with moisturizer when all is said and done for acne?

Ken - April 22, 2020

Oil needs a preservative? That’s new to me. I’ve collected some oils for years that I’ve bought from little shops here and there. I’m a little concerned but they’re too expensive to throw out.
How can one add a preservative…what preserves them?

darby - April 22, 2020

So i was wondering if the oleoresin is what is left in the flask at the end of distillation. I distilled yesterday and the water i boiled the frankincense is i saved and it also had a gum in it from the resin. Also, What are some uses of the water hydrosol i saved that as well I am new at this.

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