Copal Oro (Gold) Pieces

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Copal oro is an amber-colored resin obtained from various species of trees indigenous to Mexico and the Americas.

It has a long history of use as a ritual incense and smudge. In Mexico, copal is burned commonly during annual Day of the Dead celebrations to help souls find their way back home to visit the living.

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quick look

information at a glance

approximate cups to one pound4
plant part usedtree resin
why buy copal oro pieces?Highly aromatic.

buying & keeping

general guidelines and tips

storage tipsStore in an airtight container in a cool, dark place.
appearance & aromaGranular, marbled white and gold in color with a very pleasant aroma.


try something new

aromaticUse in incense blends, either alone or with other resins like myrrh or frankincense.
industrialCopal oro is used in the manufacture of incense powders, fragrance oils and perfumes.

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[ frankincense tip: Partner copal oro with frankincense in incense blends.  ~ from Monterey Bay Herb Company ]

Partner copal oro with frankincense in incense blends.

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[ spice rack ]

[ magnetic spice rack ~ from Monterey Bay Herb Company ]

Keep this aromatic resin fresh and fragrant in this airtight storage container.

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copal oro

Not for culinary use.

formulas & recipes

copal oro

coming soon

what else you should know

copal oro

Copal oro is a hard resin harvested from a tropical tree commonly known as the elephant tree. A native to northern Mexico and the southwestern United States, the tree familiar landscape feature of the vast Sonoran Desert.

While the tree’s leaf is noted for emitting a tangerine-like fragrance in spring (which becomes quite potent later in summer), the resinous sap harvested from the tree has an earthy, exotic and slightly sweet fragrance. The scent becomes stronger with heat, making the resin “tears” or pellets perfect for smoldering over hot charcoal bricks as incense.

Background: The word copal is from the Nahuatl language word for incense copalli. Known in various Mayan languages as ‘pom.’ Copal resins are used as incense, Copal is a resinous substance in an intermediate stage of polymerization between viscous, 'gummy' resins and amber.

There remains much evidence of Copal's traditional collection, pocessing and use, the details regarding its importance and the rich social context in which it was used. Copal, considered to be the "blood" of trees, was designated as a worthy offering to the Gods. In ancient Mayan and Aztec ceremonial uses there was a distinct symbolic connection between maize and Copal. Maize(corn) was the primary human food staple. Copal was an offering in ritual for Food for the Gods.. There is evidence of Copal being modeled into ritual objects shaped like 'ears' of Maize, and into miniature tortilla, disk-shaped incense. These are similar to pre-hispanic copal offerings found in a cenote (pool) at Chichén Itzá in the Yucatan, and elsewhere in central Mexico.The smoke from Copal was inhaled by shamans for inducing trance states.

Among the northern Lacandón Maya of lowland Chiapas in southern Mexico it was collected as resin of the pitch pine (Pinus pseudostrobus). The copal resin used in much of Mesoamerica was from the tree species Bursera bipinnata. The various Copal resins of Mexico and the Americas are closely related to the Copals of Africa and the Damars of India and Indonesia. The American Copals generally have a sweeter aroma.

One account of the process resin collection follows: The younger members of the community would perform the work of collecting the sap from the pine trees. Shallow diagonal cuts, made into the tree trunks, caused the sap to flow, dripping into a leaf ‘cup’ placed at the base of the tree. The resin was pounded into a thick paste and stored in large bowl shaped gourds. The resin was boiled and shaped into hard pellets for use as Copal.

Burned upon live coals in incense burners, the fumes and smoke, to protect against sorcery, sickness, and misfortune, and to cleanse the body after contact with the ill or dying, and others considered to be spiritually ‘unclean’.

Its sweet and husky, resinous aroma is used for celebration, invocation, protection. It is sacred to indigenous cultures of Central and South America. It is burned year-round in churches there, and is still used in homes during Day of the Dead celebrations. It is thought that the familiar scent of Copal helps souls of the departed to find their way back to visit among the living.

Copal has a light resinous scent. It is used as fixative in perfume, mellowing sharper scents. Copal and its smoke can repel insects. Freshly applied, it is used to mend leaks in non-cooking containers, repair cracks in pottery, and in the manufacture of masks, drums, fiddles, guitars, and for general gluing. The soft resin is employed in as an all-around household aids, for gluing and fastening, and as a pigment binder and varnishing agent.

Description: Bursera microphylla is a shrub or small tree native to southeast Arizona and southern California, south to Baja California and Sonora in Mexico. It grows along washes, on gravelly plains and on arid, rocky slopes at elevations below 2,500 feet. Leaves are glossy green, pinnate, with 7-35 small leaflets. Plants are cold and drought deciduous. The leaves are very aromatic, smelling of camphor. The main trunk is greatly thickened, with whitish bark that exfoliates in thin sheets. The common name of elephant tree is derived from the appearance of the tree with its thickened, gray trunk.

Small, white flowers appear in summer followed by purplish, 3-angled fruits each containing a single seed.

The torchwood family contains 550 species of shrubs and trees worldwide. The New World elephant trees are nearly unknown to the general public, but nearly everyone has heard of their Old World relatives. The aromatic sap of the Boswellia sacra (Frankincense) and of Commiphora spp.( Myrrh) were once worth equal their own weight in gold.

for educational purposes only

This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

please be advised: 
Before making any changes to your diet you should always consult with your doctor,
especially if you are pregnant, nursing or have existing conditions.