The extraction process of the oil-resin of copaíba is still rudimentary. A hole is drilled into the wood with an auger, 60 or 70 cm from the ground, until to the center of the trunk. The dripping out resin is collected, much in the same manner as harvesting maple syrup. A single copaiba tree can provide about 40 liters of oleoresin annually, making it a sustainable rainforest resource that can be harvested without destroying the tree or the forest in which it grows. When tapped, the initial oily resin is clear, thin, and colorless; it thickens and darkens upon contact with air. Commercially sold copaiba oil resins are a thick, clear liquid, with a color that varies from pale yellow to golden light brown to dark brown.

The chemical composition of the oil-resin of copaíba is thought to have approximately 72 sesquiterpenes (hydrocarbons) and 28 diterpenes (carboxylic acids), and the oil is composed by 50% of each of these terpenes. Diterpenes are attributed in the majority for therapeutic applications, a scientifically proven fact. Sesquiterpenes are partially responsible for the aroma of the oil-resin and also have antiulcer, antiviral, and anti-rhinovirus properties.



Distillation is a separation process based on the phenomenon of the equilibrium between the liquid and gaseous phases of the oil-resin, which is a homogeneous mixture. The distillation column operates under negative pressure that facilitates the boiling of the oil-resin components at low temperatures avoiding the transformation of their bioactive into other substances.

The most volatile phase of condensation stays in the upper plates of the distillation column. It is a colorless substance of pleasant aroma and rich in sesquiterpenes.

The heaviest components of the resin oil which remain at the bottom plates of the distillation column is of a high viscosity, yellowish color substance and rich in diterpenes.

The purified sesquiterpenes obtained by distillation provide a diversified application; however, their pleasant aroma is rich in bioactive constituents are of most interest to the perfume, pharmaceutical, and cosmetic industries.


LIDIAM, M. L. et al (2012): Chemistry and Biological Activities of Terpenoids from Copaiba (Copaifera spp.) Oleoresins; Molecules 2012, 17, 3866-3889 https://www.mdpi.com/1420-3049/17/4/3866/pdf .

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