A viscous, oleoresin obtained from South American deciduous trees of the genus Copaifera, native to the Amazon valley and banks of the Orinoco river. The volatile oil and resin contain one or more of the followings acids: illuric, metacopaivic, copaivic, and oxycopaivic. Copaiba balsam was brought to Europe in the 17th century for medicinal use. In the mid-19th century, copaiba balsam (para) with ethanol vapor was used as a varnish cleaner (Pettenkofer method) for oil paintings with blanched and cracked surfaces. However, the no-longer used method produced unwanted long-term effects because the resin penetrated paint and canvas, slightly dissolved linseed oil and left residual resin that darkened with age. In the early 20th century, copaiba balsam was used as a glossy additive in paint media, but later discontinued because of its tendency to darken, interfere with drying and produce cracked paints. Copaiba balsam is currently used to make tracing and photographic papers.
1) para balsam (60-90% copaiba oil) - Brazil
2) maracaibo balsam (40% copaiba oil) - Venezuela
Synonyms and Related Terms
básamo de copaiba (Esp.); balsamo copaibe (It); balsamo copaive (It); para balsam; maracaibo balsam; Jesuits' balsam; balsam capivi; copaiva resin; copaiva balsam; Pettenkofer method
Soluble in benzene, chloroform, ether, oils, carbon disulfide, absolute alcohol, ligroin. Insoluble in water.
For para: Saponification number = 80-100. Acid number = 75-100.
|Refractive Index||1.500 -1.506|
S.Schmitt, "The Reprint of Professor Max von Pettenkofer's 1870 publication _ber Ílfarbe" in ICOM Preprints, Lyon, France 1999. p.188-193.
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