“Amber” gives us first a visual reference, after which it makes us think of perfumes. Amber refers to a naturally scented substance. Since ancient times, it’s been used mostly in perfumes. It was also used for its therapeutic effects. But what do we know about amber and Aromatherapy? Is there an Amber essential oil, and if so, what is it good for?
Keep reading to learn more about:
- The answer to 10 questions about amber perfumes and essences. This section is meant to clarify a lot of things about the topic. I have found a lot of confusing information out there, which I believe it deserves a bit more attention. Read this section to learn more about the uses of Amber oil, its benefits, scent, etc.
- Amber oil perfume notes.
- What you need to know about Pinus succinifera essential oil. Plus, the connection between it and Amber oil.
- Other resinous essences to use to make your own DIY Amber essential oil recipes. Whether they’re perfumes or wellbeing recipes, you can get your inspiration there.
FAQ about Amber Oil (Chemical Profile, Uses, Benefits, Fragrance, and More)
I did a lot of research to find out the truth behind such a simple term as “Amber essential oil”. What I found out was that there’s a lot of confusion on the internet. When they’re asked about amber essential oil, many say that there is no such thing.
They say that amber refers to a scent obtained from mixing other resinous essential oils. They can be mixed together to obtain the well-known amber fragrance. And many manufacturers do actually sell their own Amber essences.
They try to recreate the exact scent so as their blend can smell as accurately as possible. This is really not a bad thing at all. It gives us the freedom to personalize our own Amber perfumes.
True amber is, in fact, a hardened substance that comes from the digestive system of sperm whales. I will tell you more about it a bit later though. But there are also botanicals that yield amber resins used for oil-making.
A less popular essence is known as Pinus succinifera. It is literally the only Amber essential oil that comes from a tree and it’s distilled like all other essential oils. It has an almost identical amber-like fragrance, which is why it’s known as Amber essential oil.
1) What is amber?
Amber can be animal-based or plant-based. Like I said, animal amber is the original type of amber and comes from sperm whales.
The name we know today came from ‘anbar (Arabic) + ambar (Middle Latin) + ambre (Middle French). ‘Anbar referred to ambergris (sperm whale secretion).
Yellow or golden amber is a tree resin that’s been fossilized for many thousands (or millions) of years. In other words, it’s a hardened resin that comes from ancient trees.
Yellow amber is a sticky substance and because of that, it traps all sorts of living organisms. They can be leaves, insects, small animals, etc.
Pine trees are the most common types of trees that yield amber. They secrete this resin every time they suffer cuts or lose limbs. The resin is their way of protecting from external damage. That resin seals up the exposed trunk and protects it from infections.
There are other oils as well, and when mixed together they can help us get the scent of amber. I will give you more details about this topic also, but all in due time.
2) Does amber fossilized resin have a scent?
The hardened fossilized resin itself has a very faint scent, if at all. However, when it is burned, it relieves a pinewood-like scent.
In perfumes, amber scents are created to reflect the golden warmth of the resin. Amber is also a known gemstone, used as jewelry from ancient times.
What does the amber fragrance smell like? The fragrance of amber is often described as warm and rich. It also has some well-defined honey-like notes. Amber also smells earthy and musky.
3) Is there really an amber essential oil?
Yes, there is! The only true Amber essential oil comes from the distillation of Pinus Succinifera resin. Still, when the resin is heated at temperatures of over 200 C (392 F), it decomposes and becomes liquid.
This is how Amber oil can be obtained from the resin directly. It is quite difficult to do it though. Those are not normal temperatures one can get with regular equipment.
Luckily, an Amber essential oil blend can be made from several essential oils. You’ll also get some inspirational recipes at the end of the article.
4) What is Amber oil made from?
Pinus succinifera essential oil has its own set of properties and benefits. And I will talk about them in particular, after the FAQ section. Generally speaking though, Amber oil is made of resin.
The chemical composition of amber resins depends on the tree and region. Chemically, each type of tree yields a different oil. The GC-MS report of an Amber oil will tell you what it contains. This different chemical profile allows scientists to divide amber resins into categories (classes).
The Baltic amber resin is class I – most abundant and acidic of ambers. Pinus succinifera essential oil is a class V. The first class is better in terms of purity and hardness.
Hardness, however, is not important during distillation. Both are different in properties and benefits, and even scent.
5) Where do you find pure amber oil?
Pure Amber oil can be found but not without considerable effort. They are also very expensive (hundreds of $ per ounce of Amber essence oil).
Another, more accessible, option of using Amber oil is already-made blends. Sellers can mix expensive Amber essence with carrier oils and essential oils. Or they can infuse the oils with amber powder.
Pure Amber essential oil can be found online, and it’s easier than with other sources. In fact, you can find Amber essential oil on Amazon. The product enjoys many positive reviews.
6) What are the properties of amber essential oil (chemical profile)?
To determine the properties of Amber essence oil we must know what it’s made of. These properties differ from oil to oil, depending on its source. The original Amber oil (ambergris) contains succinic acid, and so does the Baltic Amber oil.
Succinic acid is a short-chain fatty acid, found in our bodies with many biological roles. It is a metabolic intermediate. That means it can regulate enzymes and aid with cellular function.
If the succinic acid degrades or doesn’t work properly, it can lead to inflammation of the tissue. Its degradation can also contribute to tissue damage and tumors.
7) What are the benefits of amber essential oil?
As you can see, the benefits of Amber oil are unique, as it’s one of the best sources of this acid. It can, however, irritate the eyes and skin. Especially if it’s used in large quantities, on a long-term and undiluted.
Amber oil can:
- Decrease inflammation.
- Help the skin regenerate.
- Boost the function of all skin cells.
- Purify the skin and scalp.
- Improve the aspect of wrinkles.
- Soothe eczema or chapped dry skin.
- Induce relaxation and calmness.
- Improve the quality of sleep.
If you buy or make an Amber essential oil blend, it will have the properties and benefits of its ingredients. In other words, you must know what each oil does to avoid health complications.
Pinus succinifera essential oil will have its own properties and benefits. I will tell you more about this oil in the last part of the article.
8) What are the main uses of Amber oil?
If it is dry distilled, the resulting Amber oil is very thick; basically a carrier oil. It contains fatty acids and other nutrients that spread well on the skin and moisturize it.
Dry distillation refers to a process that heats the resin at very high temperatures. It is done in a vacuum container, to remove the oxygen. Oxygen boils the substance (breaks it down into liquid form) but can burn it.
To avoid burning the amber resin, they use a vacuum container.
The main uses of Amber oil are in:
- Skincare (inflammation, wounds, wrinkles, infections, etc.)
- Hair care (strength and condition, remove dandruff and itchiness, etc.)
- Wellbeing (relaxation, sleep, stress, etc.)
- Health (strengthen the immune system, improve breathing, etc.)
9) What does Amber essential oil blend well with?
Luckily, Amber has a very interesting scent. Amber essential oil blends well with many other essences:
- Styrax (Liquidambar)
- Balsam of Peru
- Atlas Cedarwood
- Palo Santo
- Copaiba Balsam
10) What is amber paste?
Once it is dried, amber can be crushed into a very fine paste. It can then be mixed with carrier (vegetable) oils on a steam bath. Depending on the oil used and how thin the amber powder is, you can get an amber paste.
Or if it turns into sediments, you can first strain it. You’ll get a beautifully infused oil to use in serums and lotions. In an Amber paste, you can add almost anything you want. From carriers and butters to essential oils and other powders.
Amber Essential Oil Perfume Notes and Pinus Succinifera Essential Oil
I was telling you a bit about the scent of Amber. Amber fragrance smells warm and rich, with honey-like notes, as well as musky and earthy ones.
Perfumers like to use Amber essence because of its sweet, woody and earthy notes. These notes are usually given by a blend of Vanilla, Benzoin, and Labdanum.
Amber oils have two major roles in perfumes. One is their rich fragrance and the other is the ability to fixate the scent of the perfume.
What does this mean? A perfume fixative is usually a long-lasting base note. Base notes represent the last fragrance you smell after many hours.
They linger for a long time and it’s what basically matters in a perfume fragrance. All the other notes (top and middle) will evaporate in a few hours, and you’ll be left only with the base notes.
As a perfume fixative, Amber can also lengthen the wear time of the perfume. Plus, once it’s added to a perfume blend, Amber oil can hold together all the other essences. That leads to a stronger scent, even for the middle and top notes.
The French divided the smell of Amber into two categories:
- Ambre gris (gray amber). This refers to ambergris, the sperm whale product.
- Ambre jaune (yellow amber). This refers to all fossilized tree resins that yield amber.
What is Ambergris?
Sperm whales are endangered species, so it’s really very hard to find true amber. Plus, it takes many years until what they expel becomes pleasantly scented. When it’s fresh, ambergris smells horrible.
Ambergris is a waxy, hardened substance. It becomes liquid at high temperatures. It has a yellow color and a viscous, resinous texture. Liquid Ambergris can be mixed with alcohol, essential oils, and carrier oils.
Because Ambergris is hard to find, people got creative. Those with a major interest in using Amber are perfume makers.
They can create the amber scent from Labdanum (Cistus ladaniferus). Labdanum is also a sticky, viscous substance. It’s extracted from the resinous roots of the cistus plants.
Labdanum is one of the main sources that give us amber-like fragrances. Once steam-distilled, cistus leaves give us Cistus essential oil.
Ambergris is not an essential oil, because it’s sticky and thick and contains fatty acids.
What is Yellow Amber?
Yellow or golden amber refers to fossilized tree resins. The most common resins that yield Amber-like fragrances come from pine trees.
Heinrich Göppert, botanist, and paleontologist, found a pine species that yielded amber. He called it Pinus succiniter. Pinus – the Latin name of the tree family, and succiniter – after the succinite name of amber.
It is also known as Pinus succinifera, an existing type of pine tree. It is the same pine tree from which we get what’s called Amber essential oil.
The highest quality of Amber essential oils comes from the Baltic area. Pinus succinifera trees grow there. Of course, this tree grows in other regions too (all Central Europe).
Pinus succinifera (Amber) essential oil is considered the least expensive Amber essence. Ironically, it is the only one with a lot more health benefits than the other expensive varieties.
Why? Because Pinus succinifera is an essential oil. And essential oils are volatile. This means they get inside the body via inhalation and produce beneficial chemical reactions in the brain. Therefore, Pinus succinifera Amber essential oil can:
- Improve the mood by affecting the limbic and nervous systems.
- Induce relaxation and peace.
- Relieve tension, headaches and lower heart rate.
- The oil can get into the blood and travel to affected areas throughout the body.
- Boost digestion.
- Strengthen the immune system.
- Promote tissue healing.
- Disinfect the skin and prevent acne and acne scars.
- Improve wrinkle appearance.
- Get rid of dandruff.
- Strengthen the hair.
- Cover foul odors, like tobacco.
- Have aphrodisiac effects.
- Strengthen oral health (gums, bad breath, cavities, etc.)
The main sense of the word amber is now given by the Baltic amber. The Baltic area is rich in fossilized tree resins. Baltic amber is also called succinite because it yields succinic acid.
So, if you want a pure Amber aromatic oil, your best bet would be to look for those that come from Baltic pine trees.
Pinus succinifera essential oil characteristics:
- Steam distilled from the oleoresin.
- Has a warm and smoky fragrance, amber-like.
- Its color is light yellow to golden and slightly translucent.
Pinus succinifera Amber essential oil blends well with:
- Clove buds
The melting of pine tree fossilized resins yields 3 different products:
- Amber oil.
- Succinic acid or amber acid. It is also found in wine and vinegar, in some plants and some organs (beef spleen).
- Colophony, also known as rosin. It remains solid after the heating process of the liquid resin is finished. This substance is often used on musical cords.
How to Use Pinus Succinifera Amber oil
Being an essential oil, Pinus Amber can be used in many different ways. It basically depends on what you’re in the mood for:
- Massage – Blend up to 15 drops per Oz carrier oil and massage the skin (or scalp) with it.
- Diffuse – Follow the indications of the manufacturer of the diffuser. A few drops (4 -5) are usually enough for a small room. For larger rooms, you must add more Amber essence and use a powerful diffuser.
- SPA bath – Mix 10 – 15 drops of Amber essential oil with a cup of salt. It can be Epsom, Himalayan, Mediterranean, etc. Add it to a hot bathwater, then soak in it and relax while inhaling deeply.
Resinous Essential Oils & Absolutes to Use in Amber Essential Oil Recipes
Some of the best resinous essential oils to use in Amber blends are:
- Liquidambar – warm, sensual, spicy and sweet.
- Frankincense – dry, balsamic, yet sharp and pungent.
- Myrrh – resinous, warm and spicy.
- Elemi – lighter than Frankincense, with spicy and lemony notes.
- Labdanum – represents the closest scent to Ambergris. Labdanum is warm and sweet, exotic and intoxicating.
- Opopanax – the sweet version of Myrrh. Opopanax has honey-like notes, sweet and balsamic.
- Palo Santo – related to Frankincense. Its scent is citrusy, with sweet notes of mint and pine.
- Copaiba Balsam – is a bit sweet, with woody and earthy notes.
You can read more about various scents in this article:
Amber Essential Oil Recipes
I will give you a few suggestions of Amber blends to try at home. Like I said, you can buy an Amber essential oil derived from Pinus succinifera. Or you can make your own Amber blend to use in other recipes of perfumes or skin care.
Keep in mind this ratio: 20% base notes + 50% middle notes + 30% top notes. It will guide you through mixing essences for your perfumes.
Amber Essential Oil Perfume for Women
- Jojoba oil: 1 Oz (30ml)
- Vanilla extract (base): 2 drops
- Opopanax extract (base): 2 drops
- Patchouli essential oil (base): 2 drops
- Rose essential oil (middle): 15 drops
- Bergamot essential oil (top): 9 drops
Mix these ingredients and let the perfume maturate for at least 3 weeks. Given enough time, the original scent will change into a more stable one.
Amber Essential Oil Perfume for Men
- Jojoba oil: 1 Oz (30ml)
- Labdanum extract (base): 6 drops
- Cedarwood essential oil (middle-base): 10 drops
- Vetiver essential oil (middle): 5 drops
- Frankincense essential oil (top): 9 drops
Follow the above-mentioned steps and those in my other articles about making your own perfume.
These two Amber essential oil recipes are meant to help you start experimenting. Remember to write down all the ingredients and amounts used. Also, write down everything you change in your recipes. When you finally find the one, you’ll want to be able to replicate it.
Making perfumes can be a lot of fun. But it takes a lot of practice and learning to be able to make some of the best fragrances.
There are lots to know about Amber fragrance. Its popularity grew in ancient times when it was used as a perfume but also as incense.
Today, true amber (ambergris) is hard to find, but people can create their own Amber blends. A professional perfume maker can make a blend that smells just like the old and popular Amber perfume oil.
Luckily, we also have a more accessible, natural source for our Amber oils. That is found in the forests of the Baltic region and throughout Central Europe. Pinus succinifera oil is called Amber essential oil because of its very similar aroma.
Do you like Amber perfumes? Will you try to make one yourself, and if so, which essences will you choose? I hope you’ll keep me posted and use the comments section below for feedback.