What is Elemi, (noun) ˈe-lə-mē?

What is Elemi, (noun) ˈe-lə-mē?

By Danielle DesRosiers

Elemi is the resin produced via steam distillation from the gum of the wild canarium commune tree, a species native to the Philippines. It is yellow in colour and honey-like in texture.

Elemi’s scent is associated with pine and lemon and has a spicy balsamic finish. It closely resembles the sharp distinctive smell of a Christmas tree although some also describe its fragrance as akin to dill pickle.

Elemi originated in the sixteenth century from the Arabic word al-lami, meaning “above and below” which signifies the ingredient’s relationship to connecting emotions and spirits.

The scent was used historically to calm the spirits and alleviate stress—no wonder the ancient Egyptians used it in the embalming process.

For those looking to calm frazzled nerves in present day, balsamic elemi can be found in many popular scents including: Davidoff Cool Water Deep, Diptyque Eau Duelle, Hermès Eau de Merveilles, Victor & Rolf Spicebomb, and Roberto Cavalli Her.

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Deborah Fulsang has spent the last two decades as a journalist covering news and trends in the worlds of style—in fashion and beauty, design and décor, food and entertaining. Her long-held love of fragrance led her to launch The Whale & The Rose, a destination for all things perfume-related. Now, when she indulges in a crazy-expensive bottle of fragrance, she can do so guilt-free. Well almost. It’s all in the name of research after all.