Camphor (pronounced /ˈkæmfər/) is a waxy, flammable, white or transparent solid with a strong aromatic odor. It is a terpenoid with the chemical formula C10H16O. It is found in wood of the camphor laurel (Cinnamomum camphora), a large evergreen tree found in Asia (particularly in Sumatra, Borneo and Taiwan) and also of Dryobalanops aromatica, a giant of the Bornean forests. It also occurs in some other related trees in the laurel family, notably Ocotea usambarensis. Dried rosemary leaves (Rosmarinus officinalis), in the mint family, contain up to 20% camphor. It can also be synthetically produced from oil of turpentine. It is used for its scent, as an ingredient in cooking (mainly in India), as an embalming fluid, for medicinal purposes, and in religious ceremonies. A major source of camphor in Asia is camphor basil.
The word camphor derives from the French word camphre, itself from Medieval Latin camfora, from Arabic kafur, from Sanskrit, karpūra. The term ultimately was derived from Old Malay kapur barus which means "the chalk of Barus". Barus was the name of an ancient port located near modern Sibolga city on the western coast of Sumatra island (today North Sumatra Province, Indonesia). This port was initially built prior to the Indian - Batak trade in camphor and spices. Traders from India, East Asia and the Middle East would use the term kapur barus to buy the dried extracted ooze of camphor trees from local Batak tribesmen; in proto Malay-Austronesian language (Sanskrit adapted-Bataknese alphabets)] it is also known as kapur Barus. Even now, the local tribespeople and Indonesians in general refer to naphthalene balls and moth balls as kapur Barus. For the local tribespeople, the use of camphor ranges from deodorant, wood-finishing veneer, traditional rituals and non-edible preservatives as the camphor tree itself is natively found in that region. The tree, called "Kamfer" in Indonesian, is also known for its resistance to tropical termites.