Balsam of Peru

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Related to Balsam of Peru: balsam of tolu, Peruvian balsam

balsam of Peru

[′bȯl·səm əv pə′rü]

Balsam of Peru


a resin obtained from the bark of tropical American balsam trees of the genus Myroxylon. Balsam of Peru is a dark brown, thick, oily liquid with the aroma of vanilla. It acts as an acid in chemical reactions. It is insoluble in water but soluble in chloroform, acetic acid, and an alcohol-ether mixture. Its density varies between 1.14 and 1.16 g/cm3.

Balsam of Peru is composed mainly of esters of benzoic and cinnamic acid, resinols, and an admixture of vanillin. It is used in perfumery and pharmacy (as antiparasitic, antiseptic, and deodorant). A mixture containing synthetic esters of benzoic and cinnamic acid is often used instead of balsam of Peru.