Balsam of Peru

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balsam of Peru

[′bȯl·səm əv pə′rü]
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

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.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.