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July 01, 2015 2 min read

Earlier this week I wrote about the Atlas Cedar being on the Red List as being an endangered species. In writing about this, I began to wonder just how many other plants and trees are on that list that are widely used in the aromatherapy community.

My first thought went to the tree we obtain Sandalwood essential oil from. The Sandalwood essential oil is created from steam distillation from the heart of the wood in the tree. As it is a very expensive pure essential oil, I decided to start with Wikipedia for basic information. 

Sandalwood is a very slow growing tree that takes about fifty years to reach a maturity where oils can be harvested from the wood. With just that information alone, you can see why it is such an expensive oil to acquire!

In regards to aromatherapy, several species of this tree are utilized in attaining pure essential oils. Santalum Album is a favorite and is often noted as the favorite due to its rich earthy, woody, and sweet smelling balsamic aroma. A few other species that are currently available as a pure essential oil are the S. Austrocaledonicum, the Hawaiian S. Paniculatum, and the Australian S. Lancelatum.

The benefits and uses of this precious essential oil are well documented. Some of the Sandalwood essential oil's therapeutic properties include analgesic, antibacterial, antifungal, antispasmodic, and decongestant qualities. There are several more and they do vary from species to species.

In addition to being used for the production of essential oil, Sandalwood is often used in perfumery, incense, the cosmetic industry and even in aftershave. More important, it the historical use of Sandalwood for the natives of India.

It has a long history for it's medicinal use as well for religious and spiritual rituals within India. Many of those rituals and religions use sculptures made from Sandalwood.

Sandalwood essential oil

When thinking about the slow growth rate, the various uses, and it's historical uses, it is no wonder it is a highly desired tree.While there are several species of the Sandalwood, the main source and true Sandalwood is the Santalum Album.

This species is in fact a protected species. In 1998, the IUCN placed the Santalum Album on the Red List under "Vulnerable." There are even current conservation protections in place that ban the export of it's timber from India.

It is no surprise as to why it is so costly to attain for just private collections for essential oil users. With the considerations of above, it makes one wonder how many companies are selling adulterated Sandalwood essential oils.

For now, we can say without a doubt Sandalwood is a tree that we need to hold precious and try to conserve it, just like the endangered Atlas Cedarwood tree.