Boswellia Sacra/Carterii resin extract beneath B. Papyrifera resin extrac

Extracting the resin and Boswellic acids from Frankincense. A visual walkthrough.

 

Many of you have asked for clearer instructions on the method I use for separating the resin with its Boswellic acids from Frankincense in the post “Tapping into Frankincense and its Boswellic acids. An easy extraction method”.  I realize written descriptions leave a lot of room for interpretation and a video would be the best method of demonstration.

Since shooting some videos is still on my todo list, here is a photo progression of the process.  I hope it offers the needed clarity until I get around to making a video.

I also want to add here, though I name it “An easy extraction method”, easy is relative. It is also a messy and time consuming process. Be prepared to dedicate sieves, pots, pans and wooden spoons to Frankincense before you start, since cleanup is inevitable.

Gird yourself with the knowledge that metal scouring pads and Olive oil followed by warm soap and water will eventually remove both sticky and brittle resins from most kitchen utensils and appliances. (And floors). Is it worth all the work?  You betcha! You will be able to make beautiful and efficacious oils, salves and cremes for medicinal and cosmetic applications. Products that deliver the full range of therapeutic compounds found in Frankincense including AKBA and the rest of the Boswellic acids. Products that deliver much more than the essential oil of Frankincense.

I am sure there will be more questions, so feel free to leave them in the comments section below. Questions are good.

Please note, this product is not meant to be taken internally. When I feel the need to take Frankincense internally, I take 1/2 to 1 level teaspoon 2-5 times a day of powdered fresh, whole Frankincense chased with water. Powdered Frankincense in gel-caps serves a similar purpose. remember everyone is different, what works for me might not work as well for you. If you want to try this, start small and listen to your body. This is a good opportunity to mention that the essential oil of Frankincense contains little to no Boswellic acids and is not suited for internal consumption.

Here is a post showing you how to powder Frankincense-https://apothecarysgarden.com/2013/03/22/how-to-grind-frankincense-myrrh-and-other-oleo-resins/.

Making a resin extract of Frankincense with Boswellic acids

 

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Colander or sieve partially immersed in the water. The boiling water will dissolve the water-soluble gum and melt the resin from the bottom up. The gum will disperse in the water making it cloudy and the resin will float and pool on the water.

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Whole resin chunks of Boswellia Serrata in the sieve. No need to grind the resin or prep it in any way. The resin portion of Boswellia Serrata, B. carterii, B. Sacra and B. Papyrifera is mostly  Boswellic acids. As many of you know, Boswellic acids have proven to be anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer in laboratory studies and are likely the main compounds that led to Frankincense’s long traditional use as medicine. There are no Boswellic acids in the essential oil of frankincense.

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Mid process, resin is floating on the water, Gum is clouding it and the fresh resin is on its way through the sieve.

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Stirring and pressing with a wooden spoon helps move the melted resin through the sieve.

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After processing, the debris in this case is mostly bark which I like to use as an incense material. Fresh Frankincense Serrata on the lower right.

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Resin frothing and floating on the boiling water.

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Set outside to cool, the resin begins to harden.

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The morning after, the resin has hardened. Some has fallen to the bottom since its specific gravity is close to that of water. It will sink in cold water and float in hot water.

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Running it through the oven at 220 degrees C. This releases and evaporates any water that is trapped in the resin as it cooled. Though the moisture will not interfere with the making of oils, salves and cremes, I prefer to remove as much of it as I can before storing it.

 

Raw Frankincense and Resin extract of Frankincense Sacra-Both heated

Raw Frankincense on the left and Resin extract of Frankincense Sacra-Both heated to the same temperature. The lack of water-soluble gum in the extract means it will melt with heat and dissolve easily in warm oils and alcohol, while the raw resin will not.

 

Boswellia Sacra/Carterii resin extract beneath B. Papyrifera resin extrac

Solid at room temperature, the resin portions of Boswellia Thurifera beneath B. Papyrifera. Each species of Frankincense will yield a resin extract of different colour. Even variations in place  or time of harvest can influence the colour of the finished product. 

 

13 comments

  1. Reblogged this on Apothecary's Garden and commented:

    Many have asked for clearer instructions on the method I use for separating the resin with its Boswellic acids from Frankincense in the post “Tapping into Frankincense and its Boswellic acids. An easy extraction method”. I realize written descriptions leave a lot of room for interpretation and a video would be the best method of demonstration.

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  2. Hello Dan,
    Thanks you so much for all the picture.It is much clearer for me now.Just a question about the collected water: can you keep it, filter it and consume it as herbal tea or use it to make cosmetic products? Freeze in small blocks? thanks Dan.

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    1. Hi. Good question. The water contains all the water-soluble gum which in the case of Frankincense, contains sugars, starches ands a bitter principle. It could be kept in the fridge or freezer since it spoils quickly without refrigeration. I have not had much luck working with it. I have evaporated the water and kept the gum, but it oxidized and turned black.
      You could definitely freeze it in an ice cube tray and defrost as needed. This is likely the best way to preserve it and experiment with it. There is not much, or any information available on uses of the Frankincense gum. With its bitter taste one could assume it might be useful stimulating the appetite, bile or liver.

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      1. Thank you for your quick reply, so I will see what I can do with this water which I think will be wonderful in cosmeto and I keep you informed of my experiences.
        Good to you
        Cathie

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  3. Thanks for the photos Dan…they speak a thousand words. Doesn’t this process release the volatile oils into the air and if so, isn’t there a way to capture them so they don’t go to waste. Is the oleoresin the stuff left behind in the still pot when frankincense is distilled? Can’t that be used in the same way?

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    1. Hi Maggie.
      I don’t know how I missed your comment and questions! My apologies. Regarding loss of volatile essential oils during the boiling process, yes, you will lose some. Considering it takes 6-12 hours to fully distil all the essential oil from frankincense in a normal steam or hydrodistillation, my feeling is that the amount of essential oil lost in a half hour boil is not substantial.
      You are absolutely right that the resin is what is left behind after distilling off the essential oil from Frankincense and is used in the same way. In fact, pharmaceutical companies purchase this post distillation resin from distillers and process it into a marketable product with Boswellic acids. The oleo in “oleoresin” is the essential or volatile oil, the resin is the nonvolatile fraction of the oleo gum resin. Once we distil off the essential oil, we are left with only the nonvolatile portion, which in this case is the pure resin made up mostly of resin acids. The process above offers the same product without needing distillation apparatus.

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  4. Dan, great site you have put together!
    I’m assuming if one wanted to make a smaller batch, I could half the amount of tears (50g) and half the amount of water (5L), correct?

    Thanks……

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  5. Hello Dan,

    I want to use this Frankincense resin oil instead of essential oil in my lotion. If i am using 20 drops of essential oil in the recipe then how much resin oil of the same should I use instead of the essential oil.
    Pls let me know

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    1. Hi Kiran.
      This post shows you how to make a solid resin extract. This one, how to make an oil extract-https://fairtradefrankincense.com/2015/08/31/make-a-frankincense-resin-oil-with-boswellic-acids/.
      If you are working with a pre-made lotion, neither of them will work very well. However if you are making a lotion from scratch, the oil extract or the resin extract dissolved in oil can provide the oil portion of your oil/water emulsion or lotion which makes up 20% to 25% of your emulsion.
      If you are working with a pre-made lotion you will only be able to add a small amount, perhaps 10% of this oil to your blend before it discombobulates and separates.
      In short, to use either of these products, you have to reformulate your recipe and use them as the base of your lotion to which you could add a few drops of Frankincense essential oil if you desire. Here is a link to the post on making a Frankincense creme, which in essence is a firmer version of a lotion. (you may have to copy and paste it to your browser)-https://apothecarysgarden.com/recipes-2/how-to-make-a-frankincense-cosmetic-creme-from-an-oleo-extract/
      I hope this answered your question.

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    1. Hi Jennifer.
      Yes, I either scoop the floating resin out of the water before I dry and, (nowadays), pulverize it, or I drain the water and resin through a sieve to separate them.

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