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Tonka Beans

Dipteryx odorata

Tonka Beans for incense use

Aromatic Note: Base note


These are seeds from the fruits of a compact tropical evergreen tree.

The seeds of the ripe fruit are dried, soaked in alcohol or rum for 12 to 24 hours, which causes them to swell and then shrink again upon final drying.

On the surface of the cured tonka beans is a crystalline frosting of coumarin, which is banned in the US and other countries for use as food additives.


Family: Fabaceae

Synonyms: tonquin bean, Coumarouna odorata

Origin: tropical South America, West Africa

Parts Used: seeds (a.k.a. beans)

Aroma Description: rich, warm, coumarin-herbaceous, tobacco-like, caramel-like. They have a high coumarin content, which provides a sweet, vanilla, herblike fragrance

Cosmetic Uses: perfumery, aromatherapy; used in sachets and potpourris, etc., has excellent fixative properties

Culinary Uses: once used to flavor candy, beverages, medicinal preparations, etc. but now banned in the US and other countries since 1953 as a food additive due to its high coumarin content, Still used in some countries to flavor tobacco and snuff.

*Warning: Do not use internally, due to high coumarin content Tonka Beans, when consumed, can harnful and even fatal.

Medicinal Attributes: discontinued since the discovery that coumarin may damage the heart, liver and even cause cancer

Essential Oil: Yes, concretes, absolutes and tinctures are made though they can be difficult to find.

Mixes Well With: benzoin, catnip, copal-black, copal-gold, copal-white, myrrh, frankincense, lavender, mugwort, nutmeg, oakmoss, palo santo wood, storax, tolu balsam, vanilla, vetiver, clary sage, etc.

Medical Disclaimer: Information on this web site is for entertainment purposes only. This information is NOT intended as medical advice, or for use as diagnosis or treatment of a health problem, or as a substitute for consulting a licensed medical professional.


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