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code: 11193


Latin Binomial: Santalum spicatum
Plant Part: Wood
Extraction: Steam Distilled
Growing Practice: Wild
Country of Origin: Australia
Odor Type: WOODY


Odor Characteristic: Australian Sandalwood has a mid-intensity odor with a predominant floral and woody note, with back notes of fruit, citrus and spice. The taste is slightly bitter and sour.

Essential Oil Properties: Anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, possibly chemo-protective and blood pressure regulator.

Refractive Index: 1.498 to 1.518 @ 20.00 °C.
Specific Gravity: 0.945 to 0.980 @ 20.00 °C.
Appearance: pale yellow clear viscous liquid
BioChemical Class: sesquiterpene alcohols

Chemical Profile of Typical Oil

pre α-santalol conpounds%9-12
α- & β-santalol %20-40
bergamatol-like compounds %17-30
α-bisabolol %4-10
farnesol %4-10

CAS No: 8024-35-9

About the Plant

Sandalwood W Australian is extracted from the heartwood of the Fragrant Sandalwood tree (Santalum spicatum syn. Eucarya spicata) of Family Santalaceae, a small tree found throughout the southern half of Western Australia with rough and fibrous bark and a dark brown heartwood. The evergreen tree grows to a height of 12-20 feet with a trunk diameter of 6-10 in. Sandalwood parasitises the roots of other tree species without major detriment to its hosts. Australian Sandalwood has a dark brown heartwood, with thin, opposite, ovate to lanceolate shaped leaves. The oil is distilled from the heartwood of the tree, which takes at least 30 years to grow to the size necessary to produce sufficient oil (the heartwood must be at least 3" in diameter, while the mature tree may be 12-18" in diameter). Under strict government control, trees are not harvested until they die naturally, unless they become diseased.

Because the sandalwood plant must grow in an environment surrounded by the roots of other trees which it can parasitize, it must be propagated by seed planted directly in the growing location. Traditionally this occurred by birds dropping the seeds from the fruit they had eaten; those that landed where conditions were appropriate would grow.

There is some dispute about the means of extraction of Australian Sandalwood oil. We understand this particular oil is produced by steam distillation from the wood and bark. It has not, to the best of our knowledge been processed by solvent extraction.


Sandalwood has been traditionally used in India for a variety of ceremonial and aromatic uses. Incense is made from the sawdust and chips. It is a traditional perfume material. Guenther (1952) claims that Sandalwood Oil has been distilled "from very ancient times" in India using water or hydrodistillation. Steam distillation is now the principal method used.

Australian Sandalwood was first distilled in 1875 in Germany. By the turn of the 19th century there was sporadic distillation in Western Australia but it wasn't until 1921 that systematic production occurred and the santalol content was increased. In 1932 it was considered to be therapeutically equal to Indian sandalwood oil and was included in the British Pharmacopoeia. However, the wood had started being exported to the Far East for use in incense production as early as 1846. This resulted in deforestation of many areas in Western Australia, and drove the timber prices up (especially after World War II) to a level in excess of its value for oil production. Oil production started again in the 1990's, but with the pressure of reduced availability of Indian Sandalwood, the price now is 4 times what it was at the turn of the 20th century.

Santalum album is currently a threatened species because of its limited native range, high desirability for wood and oil production, the necessity to kill the mature plant to harvest the oil, and the long lead time (>50 years) to develop plantations. Overexploitation in India led to attempts to obtain it from the Western Pacific islands and slaughtering of the native populations. In recent years Indian sandalwood production has been decimated by the "ravages of spike disease" and over-exploitation by illegal distillation, smugglers and corrupt officials. Traditionally it was grown in India, and production and use are strictly controlled by the Mysore government, although in other states the control is less strict. This has led to the use of alternative oils such as Australian Sandalwood and Sandalwood NC) from different Santalum species, and now to the development of S. album plantations in north Australia. However, Cropwatch has serious reservations about the quality and sustainability of those sources.

References: Guenther (Vol V, 1952); Laurence (1981-87) and (1991); Cropwatch Files;(1) Mahindru, 1992c; (2) Mamata Mukhopadhyay; Lis-Balchin (2006)

Perfumery: Sandalwood has good fixative properties and is often a blender fixative with florals (rose, tuberose, neroli) and in classic orientals with clove and lavender oils. Because it is lighter in color than other fixatives alleviating the fear of skin coloration, it is preferred over other base note fixatives. Because of its delicate odor, it can be blended in small quantities without altering the dominant fragrance.(2)

Aromatherapy: Sandalwood oil uses include calming, antidepressant, sedation, antiseptic, antispasmodic, aphrodisiac, decongestant, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, emmollient, and insecticidal. Before the development of sulfa drugs, it was used as a treatment for gonorrhea.

Australian Sandalwood oil is considered to be safe and non-toxic. No sensitization was noted at 10% dilution, however, rare dermatitis and allergic reactions may occur in hypersensitive individuals.

The information provided on these pages is not a substitute for necessary medical care, nor intended as medical advice. Always keep aromatic extracts tightly closed and in a cool, dark place, out of reach of children. Never ingest aromatic extracts. Always dilute aromatic extracts when applying topically and avoid areas around eyes or mucous membranes. If redness or irritation occurs, stop using immediately and contact your health provider if necessary.