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Tolu Balm: A South American Ingredient
Tolu balm is derived from the resin of a tree commonly found in the vicinity of Santiago de Tolu in Colombia. The resin hardens upon exposure to oxygen, and it is collected through a V-shaped incision made in the tree's bark. Historically, Indigenous people used tolu balm to treat various ailments. They would burn the resin, and the resulting fumes were used to alleviate respiratory issues, migraines, and joint pain. In contemporary times, tolu balm is recognized for its invigorating properties and its ability to act on bronchitis secretions. It is also incorporated into numerous ointments to nourish the skin and treat skin conditions. Consequently, it is likely that you have encountered tolu balm in products like antibiotics or cough syrups without realizing it. Moreover, tolu balm is a common ingredient in chewing gum, ice cream, and candies.
It is important to note that the essential oil of tolu balm is highly potent, so its use should be moderated. Proper dosage requires exceptional expertise, as an overdose of the active substances in tolu balm can be toxic.
The Scent of Tolu Balm
Once harvested from a tree trunk, tolu balm is extracted using volatile solvents to create an absolute for use in perfumery. It boasts a warm, sweet, woody, and vanilla-like aroma. Although it can be utilized in its natural form, today's perfumers predominantly use synthetically reconstituted tolu balm. This versatile ingredient adds a touch of fantasy to fragrances while lending a warm and creamy quality.
Tolu balm can be found in numerous perfumes, such as Amber Sultan by Serge Lutens, Cuir Ottoman by Parfum d'Empire, Elixir de Patchouli by Reminiscence, and Kenzo Power by Kenzo. The presence of tolu balm in these scents imparts a gentle caress, enveloping the fragrance with a sensation of unrivaled comfort. Its unique scent profile and soothing properties make tolu balm an alluring and sought-after ingredient in modern perfumery.