The raw material Copal Gum
Copal is a very broad collective term for in part sub-fossilized gums of diverse botanical backgrounds. Sub-fossilized gums mark the transition between fresh, young gum and million years old, hard amber. The term Copal is used in part for young, man-harvested gum but also for fossilized tree resin that is hundreds or thousands of years old.
The word Copal derives from the Aztec word for resin in the Nahuatl language: “copalli”. There are mainly 3 varieties of Copal: American Copal, African Copal and Kauri Copal.
American Copal Gum
American Copal, also called Mexican Copal, mainly comes from the tree genera Protium, Bursera and Hymenaea. Inside these genera, Copal originates from a wide variety of species. The quality and the specific name of the Copal are dependent on the tree species, the harvest technique and the region of origin among other things. Examples of well-established names are Copal Negro, Copal Bianco and Copal Oro among many others. This leads to a very complicated system of nomenclature for American Copal gums. Aided by modern analytical methods such as the High Precision Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) or the Gas Chromatography (GC), attempts are made to offer a clear scientific classification scheme for American Copal.
African Copal Gum
African Copal, also called Zanzibar, Mozambique or Madagascar Copal, is the sub-fossilized gum of the tree species Hymenaea verrucosa.