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All about Sandalwood essential oil

Origin and Nature of Sandalwood Essential Oil

Sandalwood essential oil is a true gem among aromatic extracts. This exquisite oil is derived from the heartwood of the Santalum species. The journey  begins with the careful cultivation and extraction of the precious heartwood. The resulting essential oil captivates the senses and offers a myriad of therapeutic benefits.

About the Plant

The Sandalwood tree, scientifically known as Santalum, is native to several regions. The most widely recognized species for Sandalwood essential oil production is Santalum album. This is commonly referred to as Indian Sandalwood. This variety is renowned for its sweet, woody aroma and is highly regarded in the world of aromatherapy. Due to sustainability concerns with Indian Sandalwood, Santalum album is now also cultivated in Australia.

Australia also produces its native Sandalwood oil, Santalum spicatum. Known as Australian sandalwood this oil offers a distinct aromatic profile. The heartwood of the Australian Sandalwood tree imparts an earthy and grounding scent. It has a different olfactory experience compared to its Indian counterpart.

A third major source of Sandalwood is Pacific Sandalwood, Santalum austrocaledonicum. This type is in fact more similar to Santalum album than to Australia’s native Santalum spicatum. The aroma is rich and buttery but perhaps a little less ‘immediate’ than that of Santalum album.

The origin of the sandalwood tree plays a crucial role in determining the aroma and therapeutic properties of the oil. The three oils can be used interchangeably in therapy however there are subtle differences in the aroma.

Cultural Significance

Sandalwood essential oil has a long history in cultural and spiritual tradition.

In Ayurveda, the ancient system of natural healing in India, Sandalwood is revered for its calming properties. It is often used to promote mental clarity, enhance meditation practices, and create a sense of inner peace. Sandalwood offers an holistic approach to well-being. This emphasises the interconnectedness of mind, body, and spirit.

Beyond the realms of Ayurveda, Sandalwood plays a pivotal role in religious ceremonies. In Hinduism, Sandalwood paste is applied to deities during worship. This symbolises the divine presence and purity. Similarly, in Buddhism, Sandalwood is burned as incense. It fills sacred spaces with its aromatic essence during rituals and meditation.

The cultural significance of Sandalwood extends to ceremonies marking important life events. From weddings to funerals, the aroma of Sandalwood accompanies individuals on their journey. It is used to signify moments of transition, purification, and spiritual connection.

Understanding the cultural history of Sandalwood transforms it into to a symbol of reverence and tradition.

Chemistry

To understand the therapeutic potential of Sandalwood essential oil we need to look at its chemistry.

Sesquiterpenes

At the heart of Sandalwood’s aromatic allure are sesquiterpenes. These are a class of compounds known for their grounding and balancing effects. The major sesquiterpene in Sandalwood essential oil is santalol. It comes in two main forms: alpha-santalol and beta-santalol. These compounds contribute to the oil’s distinct fragrance and anti-inflammatory properties. The dual action makes Sandalwood beneficial for skincare, offering a soothing and calming effect. Alpha-santalol is also known fo its grounding effect on the psyche where it helps to soothe tension and agitation.

Terpenoids

Sandalwood oils also contain terpenoids, which are bioactive compounds with potential antioxidant properties. These molecules support the skin’s natural ability to combat oxidative stress. Sandalwood is therefore a sought-after ingredient in skincare routines for radiance and vitality. In particular, Alpha-Bisabolol is a bioactive compound with potential antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and skin-healing properties. This contributes to Sandalwood’s suitability for skincare, promoting overall skin health.

Understanding the chemistry of Sandalwood essential oil provides an insight into its usage.

Aroma

The allure of Sandalwood essential oil lies not only in its therapeutic properties but also in its enchanting aroma. It has a rich, woody fragrance that is subtle but persistent.

Woody and Sweet

The primary note in Sandalwood’s olfactory profile is woody, coupled with a buttery sweetness. This distinct fragrance emanates warmth and comfort. Sandalwood is a popular choice to a comforting and inviting atmosphere in living spaces.

Base Note in Perfumery

Sandalwood is often classified as a base note in perfumery. This means that it has a long-lasting scent that lingers after the high notes have dissipated. This characteristic makes Sandalwood valuable in creating complex and luxurious fragrances.

Aromatherapy Benefits

Beyond its use in perfumery, the aroma of Sandalwood essential oil plays a crucial role in aromatherapy. Inhaling the grounding scent relaxes the senses and enhances mental clarity. Its sweet and comforting fragrance makes it a popular choice for meditation and creating a tranquil environment.

Scent Harmony

Sandalwood possesses a unique ability to blend seamlessly with a variety of other essential oils. Its versatility allows it to enhance floral, citrus, spicy, and resinous aromas. Sandalwood is often used as a base in personalised and well-balanced fragrance blends.

Harvesting, Production and Sustainability

Sandalwood is a slow-growing tree with a heavy, fine-grained wood. The essential oil is produced from the heartwood of the tree. Sandalwood is ‘hemiparasitic’, which means that it grows on a host species, similar to miseltoe.

The trees must be at least 15 years old before the wood can be harvested. To maximise value the whole tree is removed so that oil can be extracted from the stump and root. The wood is then either steam distilled to produce the essential oil or made into powder for incense.

Due to overharvesting of Santalum album in India, the main production of this species is now in Australia. Here, trees are carefully farmed to ensure a sustainable supply. Oshadhi has previously supplied Sandalwood from India but future supplies will come from Australia.

Steam distillation is the most common method to extract the essential oil from the wood. As this is a base note oil a longer distillation process is required to extract the full spectrum of therapeutic components. Steam is passed through the plant material and the vapour is then condensed. The essential oil floats on top and is separated from the condensed water. The water that remains is known as the ‘hydrosol or hydrolat‘. Sandalwood Hydrosol has therapeutic value in its own right.

How to use Sandalwood Essential Oil

Sandalwood is a versatile oil that can be used in many different ways. With its subtle aroma it can be used alone or with other oils to enhance a blend.

Diffusion

Diffusion for Tranquillity

Harness the calming properties of Sandalwood by diffusion. Add a few drops to an essential oil diffuser, allowing the gentle, woody aroma to fill your living space. Create a tranquil environment, perfect for unwinding after a long day.

Topical Application

Skincare Elixir

Sandalwood’s potential anti-inflammatory and soothing properties are valuable in skincare. Dilute a few drops of Sandalwood essential oil with a carrier oil and apply it topically. This promotes hydration and soothes irritation.

Massage

Relaxing Massage Blend

Create a luxurious massage blend by combining Sandalwood essential oil with a carrier oil like Jojoba or Sweet Almond. Perfect for a soothing massage experience. Apply it to tense muscles or use it for a full-body massage to unwind and de-stress.

Bath

Sensory Bath Experience

Enhance your bath ritual by adding a few drops of diluted Sandalwood essential oil to warm bathwater. The aromatic steam will envelop you, creating a spa-like experience at home.

Personal Inhalation

On-the-Go Aromatherapy

Experience the benefits of Sandalwood wherever you go by inhaling it directly. Place a drop or two on a tissue or handkerchief and take a moment to inhale deeply. This on-the-go aromatherapy can help centre your mind and provide a sense of calm during hectic moments. Alternatively use a personal inhaler stick for convenience.

Contraindications & General Safety

Patch Test and Dilution

Before widespread use, perform a patch test by applying a diluted solution of Sandalwood essential oil to a small area of skin. This helps ensure there are no adverse reactions. Always dilute Sandalwood oil with a carrier oil before topical application to avoid irritation.

Consultation for Specific Conditions

Sandalwood is generally considered safe for most people however pregnant or nursing individuals or those with specific medical conditions should consult a practitioner before use.

Blending & Recipes

The versatility of Sandalwood essential oil opens the door to endless blending possibilities. Here are some enticing suggestions and recipes to inspire your aromatic journey.

Blending with Floral Elegance

This floral blend balances the woody notes with a sweet, intoxicating aroma. Perfect for creating a calming atmosphere during relaxation or meditation.

Citrus Infusion

This combination adds a bright and invigorating twist to your space. Ideal to diffuse for a revitalizing environment.

Spicy Warmth Delight

Create a cozy and warm ambiance by blending:

This combination infuses your surroundings with a comforting and festive aroma. Perfect to diffuse in the autumn or winter months.

DIY Relaxing Massage Oil

This creates a luxurious massage oil with the calming benefits of Sandalwood, perfect for unwinding after a hectic day.

Personalized Perfume Blend

Craft your signature scent by combining:

If using Rose absolute rather than distilled Rose oil start with a single drop and check the aroma. Absolutes tend to have a fuller aroma than their steam-distilled counterparts so a little goes a long way.

Experiment with different ratios to find a balance that resonates with your personal style. Apply this unique perfume blend to pulse points for a long-lasting and enchanting fragrance.

Oils with a similar profile to Sandalwood

If you like Cedar oils, Frankincense and Patchouli then you might like to try Sandalwood. These oils have a similar aromatic profile and can be used alone or blended with Sandalwood.

As you embark on your blending adventures, let your creativity guide you. The art of blending essential oils is a personal and enjoyable experience. It allows you to tailor fragrances that resonate with your preferences and enhance various aspects of your life. Enjoy creating unique aromatic blends to elevate your well-being and surroundings.

In the tapestry of wellbeing, Sandalwood weaves a thread of aromatic harmony. It enriches our lives with its captivating essence and holistic benefits. As we conclude our exploration, let the aromatic notes of Sandalwood linger, inviting you to embrace the sensory journey it offers.

Experiencing Sandalwood essential oil

Find out more about Oshadhi’s Sandalwood oils with Oshadhi founder Malte Hozzel’s informative video:

Oshadhi’s Sandalwood selection

Oshadhi supplies a range of different Sandalwood oils from sustainable sources.

Santalum album (Australia) – the original and best known Sandalwood, now sustainable sourced from Australia. A rich, woody but also slightly buttery aroma that is deep and tenacious.

Australian Sandalwood (Santalum spicatum) – Australia’s native Sandalwood with a more woody aroma. Produced from wild-grown trees.

Organic Australian Sandalwood (Santalum spicatum) -Wild grown and certified organic Australian Sandalwood.

Pacific Sandalwood (Santalum austrocaledonicum)

Sandalwood 3% Dilution in Jojoba – A 3% blend of Santalum album essential oil in Jojoba oil. Ideal for topical skincare or as a base for a personalised natural perfume.

Santalum album hydrosol and Australian Sandalwood (Santalum spicatum) hydrosols are also available.