Y Magazine

Oman health: On the trail of frankincense

The moment you enter her house in Shatti Al Qurm, the aromatic smell of frankincense wafting in the air will cast a spell on you.

The source of the scent was a room where the sunlight reflects on the copper alembics.

All the magic happens there.

American entrepreneur Trygve Harris distils Dhofari frankincense to create pure and natural essential oil free from additives.

“Our distillation is slow and seasonal. Using traditional copper alembics and low temperatures, the essential oil is coaxed and persuaded out of the resin,” she says on her website.

“This means the gum-oleoresin is immersed in water and heated to a slow boil. The liquid becomes steam and is forced through the pipes into a cooling vat called the condenser, where it changes back into liquid and separates into oil and water,” Harris explained.

The founder of Enfleurage Frankincense Distillery is also the inventor of frankincense ice cream and has been making it in the Salalah distillery since 2011.

“We have an online store based in New York. It’s enfleurage.com and we also have a boutique where aroma enthusiasts can come try all our essential oils—we have over 130 different ones,” she said.

The Californian scent artist is now planning to open a new boutique in Muscat after being in business for 20 years in New York and six years  in Oman.

While Dhofari frankincense has been used historically in churches, mosques and houses to provide worshippers a calm and serene feeling, the aromatic resin is also known for having many other benefits.

Here are some tips from enfleurage.com on how to use frankincense essential oil:

Skin care

Frankincense essential oil is great for skin care and nearly everything related to skin: burns, rashes, cuts, scrapes, and oozing sores. It’s also fabulous for mature, prematurely ageing, and environmentally challenged skin.

To use it as a night (or day) cream: just add a few drops to the base of your choice. This can be as simple as something like a bottle of whole foods unscented lotion, liquid soap, shower gel, or moisturiser. Or it can be as complex as you like. If you are making your own creams or oils, frankincense will be an excellent and appropriate addition. Percentages will vary but a reasonable rule is about 6 drops per oz.

That’s not set in stone! Feel free to experiment. Here are some general rules regarding use on the skin:

You can use more drops in lotions meant for body – they can be stronger. Use less drops for facial creams  – they should be less strong, as your face is usually more sensitive.

Making a blend for massage of a specific (limited) area, such as feet, hands and lower legs, can be stronger in general than an all-around massage blend.

Soaps, shampoos, conditioners (things that you wash off) can be stronger in general than products you leave on your skin.

Frankincense oil can be added to pure water and used as a toner or refresher. You can add a little vodka to help it blend if you like. If you don’t have any way to mix them, don’t despair. The oil will float on top, yes, but all that means is you have to shake the bottle before you spray it.

In the shower

No need to add frankincense oil to your bath gel if you don’t want to, or have some other blend in there. Just add a few drops to your washcloth and run it over yourself during your final (hot water) rinse. The steam will infuse with frankincense and you will enjoy a quick and intense frankincense steam bath, refreshing and relaxing at the same time.

As a facial steam

Frankincense is a great mini-facial. Just take a pot or pan of boiling water, add a drop or two (no more) frankincense oil to it. Lean over it and cover your head with a towel, breathing deeply. Your lungs will be so happy! And your face will rejoice! You can also try one drop of frankincense and one drop of lavender.