Harvesting Frankincense Resin
The highest quality Frankincense essential oil is distilled from the resin, not the bark or the branches. But how is Frankincense resin harvested?
The resin comes from inside the tree, under the bark. Frankincense is tapped from the very scraggly but hardy Boswellia tree by slashing the bark and allowing the exuded resins to bleed out and harden. These hardened resins are called tears.
To collect frankincense properly, a slow and carefully executed process must be followed. The process can only take place twice a year – once in the spring (March to May) and then again in the fall (September to October) and takes two weeks.
Harvesting the resin requires a small axe – A week before the harvest begins, the bark of the frankincense tree needs to be cut to allow the liquid resin to ooze out. When the resin hits the oxygen, it starts to crystallize and harden. The longer it is left on the tree, the harder it gets.
It takes about a week for the resin to harden up enough to be cut it off as a hardened resin crystal. It takes another week to come back and collect the crystal resin.
Only then can the crystal resin go into the distillery where it is crushed into powder, put into an oil bath, and steam distilled to extract the oil from the crystal resin.
The Different Types Of Frankincense Resins
This process produces different types and grades of frankincense resins. Frankincense quality is based on color, purity, aroma, and age, and in some cases, where it is grown affects the quality.
There are numerous species and varieties of frankincense trees, each producing a slightly different type of resin once they are about 8 to 10 years old. Differences in soil and climate create even more diversity of the resin, even within the same species.
The frankincense tree's ability to grow in harsh and unforgiving environments is considered extremely unusual. They sometimes grow directly out of solid rock. No one know how they initially attach to the rock or stone they grow on, but is accomplished by a bulbous disk-like swelling of the trunk. This disk-like growth at the base of the tree prevents it from being torn away from the rock during the violent storms that frequent the region they grow in.
This feature is slight or absent in trees grown in rocky soil or gravel. The tears from the hardy survivors are considered superior due to their more fragrant aroma.
The first grade of frankincense resin is the most common. It is a brownish resin that has a great deal of bark particles in it. Because there’s more of it available, it is the most commonly sold and used.
The Highest Grade of Frankincense
The rarest and the purest of the all frankincense is the Hojari, also known as Boswellia sacra. It is considered the highest grade of frankincense and has only been available locally until now. It grows only in the Dhofar region of Oman and this very special frankincense was reserved just for the kings and queens.
The ultra-high-end Omani hojari is beloved of Omani royalty and the royal family of Saudi Arabia. According to trade officials in the Ministry of Agriculture in Salalah, Oman, the only species of frankincense that grows in the kingdom of Oman is Boswellia sacra.
This species has a higher content of the constituent alpha pinene than frankincense oil from Boswellia carteri, even though both varieties carry frankincense’s therapeutic power.
After a rigorous process, Young Living Essential Oils has fulfilled all Omani government requirements and established two distilleries in Oman. For the first time in modern history REAL Omani hojari (Boswellia sacra) frankincense is being exported from Oman.
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