Sandalwood is a smallish tree that grows primarily in India. The wood of its stem, which grows from 20 to 30 feet high, is heavy and straight-grained and varies in colour from white when young to yellow as it ages. The scent is sweet, rich, woody, exotic and lingering. oriental, luxurious, and balsamic with deep & soft aroma.
Sandalwood East Indian (Santalum album) is now only being used for the distillation of oil whereas it used to be used in embalming but the principal reason for this is the over-harvesting of the tree coupled with the 30 year period required for the regeneration. As with all of our oils, we acquire our oils ethically. In this case it is through State sponsored auctions in India.
Sandalwood Mysore (Santalum album) The Queen of the sandalwoods, The tree has oval leaves which are covered with a whitish bloom; its small flowers, varying in colour, grow in numerous clusters.
Both the above species are currently on the CITES register of endangered species and consequently very expensive. Although all sandalwood trees in India are government-owned and their harvest is strictly controlled, many trees are illegally cut down and smuggled out of the country by local gangs. Sandalwood essential oil prices have risen by up to $ 1000-$ 1500 per kg in the last 5 years. Some countries regard the sandalwood oil trade as ecologically harmful because it encourages the overharvesting of sandalwood trees. Sandalwood from the Mysore region of southern India is generally considered to be of the highest quality available and oil obtained ethically, legally and at auction.
The oil is sometimes known as Chandana or Chandanam.
Sandalwood Australian (Santalum spicatum) is extracted from plantation trees, Western Australian Sandalwood is a viable, environmentally friendly tree considered to have higher anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties This tree is parasitic, burrowing its roots into nearby trees to gain sustenance for the first seven years, leaving the other to die. To produce oil this tree must be over 30 years old, preferably around 40-50 years when it has reached its oil production peak.
The ‘true’ sandalwood is the wood of trees in the genus Santalum; found in southern India and Sri Lanka, Hawaii, and many south Pacific islands. It is most commonly used for incense, aromatherapy, perfume, and fine woodworking. Although not commonly used as a construction material, temples have been built with sandalwood in India and retain the aroma after centuries. It is said to have been used for embalming the corpses of princes in Ceylon since the 9th century. Jewelry boxes, fans, and ornate carvings continue to be made in many parts of Asia using sandalwood.
Some thirty species of sandalwood occur throughout Asia, Australia and the Pacific region. Six of the species are native to Australia.
West Indian sandalwood (Amyris balsamifera) is not a member of the sandalwood family; the chemical components of amyris essential oil are entirely different from those of the oil obtained from plants in the Santalum genus.
Sandalwood is considered in alternative medicine to bring one closer with the divine. Sandalwood essential oil, which is very expensive in its pure form, is used primarily for Ayurvedic purposes, and treating anxiety.
In Buddhism, sandalwoods are considered to be of the Padma (lotus) group and attributed to the Bodhisattva Amitabha. Sandalwood scent is believed to transform one’s desires and maintain a person’s alertness while in meditation.
Sandalwood, along with agarwood, is the most popular and commonly used incense material by the Chinese and Japanese in worship and various ceremonies.
Firekeeping priests, who have maintained sacred fires for centuries, accept sandalwood twigs from Zoroastrian worshippers as their contribution for sustaining the fire.
As a matter of interest it is the Australians who are saving the Sandalwoods by sponsoring new plantations in Vanuatu, Papua, Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania.