Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Essential oils: White camphor or camphor white essential oil

The camphor essential oil we find at our suppliers tends to be white camphor or camphor white essential oil (Cinnamomum camphora). It's steam distilled then rectified to remove the poisonous elements. It contains limonene, 1,8-cineole, camphor, linalool, piperitone, eugenol and safrole. 

Piperitone is a monoterpene ketone with a minty odour. Eugenol is a phenylpropene that can be found in dill, star anise, wormwood, clove, nutmeg, cinnamon, basil, and bay leaf, to name a few plants. It is used as an anti-oxidant for rubber, and can be hepatoxic (toxic to our livers at certain doses - click here for a case study). 

The star of the white camphor essential oil is camphor, a compound we discussed yesterday. (And yes, obvious cat is obvious!) It's claimed to be an analgesic, anti-depressant, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, diuretic, rubefacient, and insecticide. We'll be looking at those claims tomorrow. Be aware that camphor is considered to be hepatoxic as well - click here for the information on that - and a possible contact irritant. 

There are two other essential oils - brown (80% safrole content) and yellow (10 to 20% safrole contect) and both are considered toxic, so you're not likely to see these on our suppliers' shelves. (One of the references I've used, click here.)

As an aside, I couldn't find white camphor or camphor white essential oil at any of my favourite American retailers or at Of a Simple Nature (UK), but I found it at four Canadian retailers - VoyageurAquarius, Creations from Eden, and NDA - and the American version of NDA. Fresholi has an essential oil from the Cinnamonum camphora tree they call ho leaf essential oil, but it has no camphor. NDA also has camphor powder. Is there some reason the American companies aren't carrying it?

Join me as we take a look at white camphor (I'm calling it that now...) essential oil tomorrow and the claims made about it! 


Diane said...

Hi susan, I too have futzed around with this/these oil(s). Possibly companies in the States are all tied up over the ravintsara/ravensera confusion and avoid the camphor designation as much as possible - I got some ho wood EO from a company I no longer shop with; it was obviously adulterated. I think cinnamomum camphora (sp? sorry) is an especially geographically sensitive EO, like citronella or lemongrass, and not universally recognizable with our current methods of identification.

Diane said...

P.S.: my go-to sites for revensera/ravintsera are and

Anonymous said...

You can get white camphor essential oil at several US suppliers -- The Perfumery ($200 min order), Liberty Natural, Essential Wholesale and Mountain Rose Herbs.

~ Gillian

p said...

Hi Gillian,

Could you post a link to The Perfumery? I've never heard of them, and googling "The Perfumery" is giving me all sorts of useless hits. Thanks!


Anonymous said...

The Perfumery used to be Essential Oil University (they still exist as an educational website.)

~ Gillian

p said...

Thanks, Gillian!

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Interesting reading and I'm not touching it with a ten foot pole. I'll refer you to this PDF at Cropwatch for more details!

7slaper said...

For the European readers: white camphor (Cinnamomum Camphora) is available at filed under Essential Oils.
They even explain about the brown and yellow camhor and why only the white camphor is available.

Claire Morrison said...

I'm here looking for uses of White Camphor (cinnamomum camphora) because I ordered some, obviously having read it was great for... something! I can't remember, though. Lol. I purchased mine through

Goya & Fig said...


Would you be able to explain the difference between camphor EO (INCI: Cinnamomum camphora) and Ravintsara EO (INCI: Cinnamomum camphora sb 1,8-cinéole - at my suplier) ? The Campor EO they sell also contains 1.85 cineole. Is it the same thing then?

I'm sure they aren't but am hoping you can elucidate?!

Milles mercis!

Methew said...

Impressive blog post! on essential oil.Good to know about the beauty secrets. But, I would like to know whether camphor helps in toning the skin or not?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Methew. What do you mean by "toning"? And do you really want camphor on your skin neat?