Frankincense Trail 3: Gathering Resin of Sacred Frankincense

Sacred Frankincense is only grown in Oman where it is protected by the country. Young Living is the only one that has it because it has a partner farm in Salalah, Oman. Frankincense is collected at the Somaliland farm and distilled at our Dubai farm where it is then shipped to Young Living. Since each are grown in different locations they have different components in the oil that make them unique.

Source: Dr Cole Woolley PhD, August 10, 2015, in comments.

1st Resin Cutting

Frankincense flows best when the outside temperatures are hot (April, May and early June) each year. This is the “summer” in Oman. Temperatures reach 100F near the beaches, and as hot as 115ºF near the mountain deserts.

First cutting of the frankincense tree After traditional prayers for a good harvest the men go to their tribal frankincense zones to make the initial cut into the bark. They only cut down to the living “red” bark where the first signs of frankincense resin instantly appears as a white-milky substance. This white-milk is called “luban” – meaning “milk”.

Milky Luben of Frankincense TreeIn fact, the word luban refers to both milk and frankincense resin. The small resin from the first cutting is simply scraped off the tree after two weeks. Then the magic begins.

Source: Dr Cole Woolley PhD, February 19, 2015

2nd Resin cutting

After the useless resin from the 1st cutting is scraped to the ground, the collectors wait 2 weeks. During this 2-week period the tree exudes significantly more resin in an attempt to seal off the temporary wound. If the temperature, ground-water, and humidity are right; the tree will push out handfuls of thick, aromatic, resin-gum

Frankincense Tree ResinThe collectors come back after 2 weeks to make their 1st collection. They carefully scrape the resin-gum from the tree into woven baskets. They takes these baskets to shallow caves in the limestone mountains where it dries into harder distinct tear-shaped drops and chunks.

Resin of frankincense treeThis drying process takes out 10-25% of the frankincense essential oil. They don’t harvest the resin to produce the maximum quantity of Sacred Frankincense essential oil – they have been processing Sacred Frankincense resin for 5000 years to create these hardened resins so they can be easily shipped by camels or ships 1000 miles to their destination.

Bagged frankincense resinWe are slowly trying to teach the Shahri people that it is okay to sell us the gooey, clumps of frankincense freshly harvested from the trees.

Source: Dr Cole Woolley PhD, February 20, 2015

3rd Resin Collection

These collections are made 2 weeks after the 2nd collection. They are similar to the 1st resin collection. The 2nd collection is usually the largest. The 3rd is usually the smallest. Sometimes a 4th collection is made depending on the health of the tree.

Frankincense Trees in OmanSacred Frankincense trees do not die from the harvesting of Boswellia sacra resin. Camels and drier annual climates cause the greatest losses in frankincense tree populations. Luckily frankincense branches and wood make terrible firewood. They make terrible lumber and building material. That’s fortunate.

Milky Resin of Sacred Frankincense TreeAfter the 3 resin collections are made and the resins are dried in the sands and caves close to the trees, they are shipped to the tribal houses to be cleaned and sorted.

Frankincense ResinSource: Dr Cole Woolley PhD, February 20, 2015

Dr Suhail Frankincense

Dr. Suhail is the owner of the Young Living Oman Co-op Farm. Image Source

I have done a study with Dr. Suhail (The owner of the Young Living Oman Co-op Farm) and other scientists comparing Frankincense (Boswellia carterii), and Sacred Frankincense (Boswellia sacra). The two species are actually less similar than people would expect. They are quite different and distinct individual species.

Young Living Essential Oils goes through many tests to get our members the correct species of frankincense. Young Living sells 3 different species: Frankincense (Boswellia carterii), Sacred Frankincense (Boswellia sacra) and Frereana Frankincense (Boswellia Frereana).

The GC-MS is an instrument used to test every single one of our oils. However, the GC-MS is not enough to distinguish the difference in Frankincense oils. Other instruments/techniques used for frankincense are: SPME, polarimetry, HPLC, and chiral and achiral GC columns.

All of these instruments allow precise identification of constituents within each species. It also provides the means to clearly establish that B. sacra and B. carterii are two separate frankincense species.

Several types of frankincense resin

Color is a significant factor in judging the quality of frankincense resin. Image Source

Some people are able to distinguish B. sacra and B. carterii resins simply by their aromas. In addition, an experienced merchant of frankincense resins usually distinguishes B. carterii resin as more orange-yellow in color while B. sacra resin is typically green, brown, and tan.

These species are further differentiated by where they grow, climates, etc and have evolved into different species, with B. carterii growing in Africa and B. sacra growing in Arabia.

Source: Dr Cole Woolley PhD, February 11, 2015

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