The Power Of Sandalwood Essential Oil

Chandan or sandalwood powder with traditional mortar, sandalwood sticks, perfume or oil and green leaves. selective focus
Chandan or sandalwood powder with traditional mortar, sandalwood sticks, perfume or oil and green leaves. selective focus. Copyright: espies / 123RF Stock Photo

Sandalwood is a slow-growing, semi-parasitic tree which constitutes the plant genus, Santalum. It is found growing as native throughout to South Asia, Oceania, and the islands of the South Pacific.

It is highly prized for its long-lasting woody, sweet-smelling fragrance which is used as a base in perfumes, male products and skin cosmetics, soaps, flavourings, and traditional Japanese incense. It blends extremely well with other essential oils to provide bass notes.

Appearance Of Sandalwood

A tall, relatively spindly tree which can grow up to 33 feet with glossy green elliptical leaves. It takes up to 60 years to mature.

The main sandalwood grown in India is Santalum album L., and is considered a “true” sandalwood, lending a rich, sweet, creamy, earthy, wood aroma to any oil preparations. Unfortunately, due to high demand and the length of time it takes to grow, Indian sandalwood has suffered from over-harvesting and is now listed as vulnerable if not endangered according to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Other species now considered suitable for use include the Australian ‘version’ sandalwood, Santalum spicatum. This has a slightly different aroma profile of smooth, woody, earthy, and hinting of balsam.

Uses Of Sandalwood Essential Oil

Traditionally, the oil has been a part of the religious tradition in India, Japan and other South-Eastern countries. The tree itself is considered holy and used for various religious ceremonies, including decorating for weddings or for the birth of a baby. Look out for other essential oils including frankincense and cedarwood as complementary oils in their aroma complexity.


The two main constituents (total of 90 per cent of the essential oil) that contribute most to the sandalwood aroma are the sesquiterpenic alcohols, alpha-santalol (50-60 per cent) and beta-santalol (20-25 per cent), and are present in sandalwood oil (Braun et al., 2007). While beta-santalol gives sandalwood oil its powerful fragrance, alpha-santalol is primarily therapeutic with many healing, protective, and enigmatic properties.

The composition of the oil will depend on the species, where it is grown and the age. Quality of oil also depends on harvesting methods and extraction process used.

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Braun, N.A., Butaud, J.-F., Bianchini, J.-P., Kohlenberg, B., Hammerschmidt, F.-J., Meier, M., Raharivelomanana, P. (2007) Nat. Prod. Commun. 2007, 2, pp. 695, and references cited therein.

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1 Comment

  1. Beautiful and gorgeous smell. I have been adding it to Indian soap nuts so that the washing comes out smelling really pleasant and exotic. I also dabble a bit in aromatherapy and I find this a great one for the men. You don’t need a lot for it to work properly. My only issue with it is when it smells slightly overpowering but then most men do on a lot of occasions.

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