I just completed a big batch of beautiful copal oils: One made with Mexican gold copal I sourced in the Yucatan peninsula earlier this year, and the other made with black copal from central Mexico. I'm really pleased with the fine perfume and dense medicinal value of these. Both oils are about 25% pure copal resin giving them a superb richness and concentration. (Buy some here.)
Medicinal uses for my MAYA GOLD and AZTEC BLACK sacred healing oils: These oils are intended for topical use on skin. In addition to its stimulating yet calming and centering aroma, they have potent vulnerary (tissue repairing), anti-inflammatory, antibiotic, and anti-fungal properties. It may also help stop bleeding and have some analgesic effects. The oil can be applied to almost any skin injury or condition: Eczema, psoriasis, minor cuts, burns, scrapes, minor infections, boils, rashes, dandruff, acne, insect bites and stings. Can be diluted x 10 as a massage oil.
Use pure or dilute slightly as an aftershave or scalp oil. Can also simply be worn for its scent. May help alleviate anxiety and depression, and enhance feelings of wellbeing and calm focus. Use as a part of your meditation practice or before bed.
AZTEC BLACK: Scent is stimulating yet soothing, dense and intense, astringent, predominant camphor and "spice market" scent, brown spices, and black soil. Made with Dacryodes black Mexican copal, grapeseed oil, and vitamin E. Comes in 15ml bottle.
MAYA GOLD: Scent is sweet and bright, soothing, prominently honeyed, slightly floral, with notes of new wood and spring forest. Made with Bursera gold Yucatan copal and a touch of 2 Frankincense varieties (Boswellia sacra and rivae from Oman and Somalia), grapeseed oil, and vitamin E. Comes in 15ml bottle.
You can buy one or both of my copal oils on Etsy.com here.
Dilution: This oil can go a long way. Dilute up to 10x with more grapeseed oil or sweet almond oil. Dilute more for use as a powerfully skin healing and regenerating massage or skin conditioning oil with calming, soothing, and centering fragrance. As an anti-aging skin treatment or for use on any inflammatory skin condition or infection, dilute only x3 or less, or not at all.
Copal resin "flowers" may occur naturally in your bottle of sacred healing oil. These are translucent, snowflake-like, "re-crystallization" of the resinous compounds in the copal and are not a problem. These may occur because the density of pure copal resins in these oils is so high. They are very soft and break up easily when touched, rubbed into the skin, mixed, diluted, or heated gently. Alternately, you can simply leave any copal flowers that accumulate in the bottle and when the bottle is otherwise empty you can add a bit of grapeseed or sweet almond oil to the bottle and gently mix for a massage-grade dilution.
As with any food, herb, or skin product there is always a risk of allergic reaction. Test first on a small area of skin before applying to a larger area.
Photos below: raw gold copal, raw black copal, and my bottling process.
What is Copal?
Copal is the term used all around Latin America, but especially in Mexico, to refer to a variety of aromatic tree resins commonly used for incense, perfume, and medicine. The word copal is derived from the Aztec word for incense, copalli. Many traditional cultures, past and present, consider copal use a sacred rite and an essential part of their spiritual practices. Copal is worthy of this designation because of its scope of effect on the human experience; sensorial, curative, and even psychoactive. Constituents in copal have been proven to improve one's sense of wellbeing, calm focus, and are being explored as adjunctive therapies for anxiety, depression, and recovery from trauma. Copal is used consistently in healing traditions wherever it grows in the world. It is used both internally and topically for a variety of conditions including respiratory and digestive issues, infections, kidney problems, as well as almost any skin condition or injury from the minor to the most severe.
I have been fascinated with natural aromatic tree resins over the past few years, initially motivated by some intriguing exposure to various local varieties of copal while traveling around Latin America, and an auspicious encounter with rare black frankincense in Kerala, india.
More recently I was inspired by some incredible raw Middle Eastern resins I received from Dan Riegler of ApothecarysGarden.com. The most famous of the resins from this part of the world are of course frankincense and myrrh. Dan is a fount of wisdom on working with these resins and is also committed to sustainable harvesting and fair trade practices. His website offers a variety of medicinal herbal products and a selection of raw resins. His blog is a fascinating read and I confidently recommend his products. The frankincense components of my MAYA GOLD sacred healing oil came from Dan.