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Australian Sandalwood Essential Oil

Santalum spicatum

Australian Sandalwood Essential Oil

Description

Australian Sandalwood Essential Oil is prized for its use in perfumery, spirituality and emotional applications. It is also widely used for its therapeutic benefits in skincare, respiratory health and numerous other benefits.

Australian Sandalwood is primarily grown in Western Australia. Therefore, the oil is sometimes referred to as Western Australian Sandalwood Essential Oil.

Australian Sandalwood Essential Oil and East Indian Sandalwood Essential Oil share similarities, but they are different in some ways. This profile pertains specifically to Australian Sandalwood Essential Oil.

A potentially confusing point about Australian Sandalwood Essential Oil vs. East Indian Sandalwood Essential Oil is that some East Indian Sandalwood is now grown on plantations in Australia (and elsewhere outside of India) and is distilled for the essential oil. Therefore, it's important to check both the country of origin and the botanical name for the sandalwood oil that you use. The botanical name for East Indian Sandalwood is Santalum album, and the botanical name for Australian Sandalwood Essential Oil is Santalum spicatum regardless of what country the trees are actually grown.

Unlike with many essential oils where the aroma deteriorates over time, the aroma of East Indian and Australian Sandalwood essential oils is generally considered to improve with age.

Aromatically, both East Indian Sandalwood Essential Oil and Australian Sandalwood Essential Oil share a somewhat similar sweet, woody, balsamic aroma. However, the initial aroma of Australian Sandalwood is not favored as widely to that of East Indian Sandalwood Oil.

Steffen Arctander accurately describes the aroma this way: "Its topnote is distinctly different from that of the East Indian sandalwood oil, not sweet but rather dry-bitter, slightly resinous like myrrh oil, although not very pronounced. On drying out, the odor slowly becomes very similar to that of the East Indian oil. Apart from this characteristic topnote, there is very little difference in the overall odor between the East Indian oil and the Australasian oil." (Source: Steffen Arctander, Perfume and Flavor Materials of Natural Origin (Reprint Edition. Elizabeth, NJ: Pathfinder., 2017), 573.)

I personally prefer the aroma of East Indian Sandalwood Essential Oil. However, Australian Sandalwood Essential Oil tends to be more affordable, and it offers many of the same therapeutic benefits. For emotional and spiritual applications and for my finest aromatic creations in which the aroma of sandalwood is key, I use sustainably sourced East Indian Sandalwood Essential Oil. Otherwise, I typically use Australian Sandalwood Essential Oil.

Aromatically, Australian Sandalwood Essential Oil blends well with a wide array of essential oils and absolutes in the wood, floral, citrus and spice families including Neroli, Jasmine Absolute, Rose Otto and Absolute, Lavender, Sweet Orange, Petitgrain, Mandarin, Patchouli, Rosewood, Frankincense, Ylang Ylang, Tuberose Absolute, Cardamom, Coriander Seed and Copaiba Balsam.

Santalol, a sesquiterpenol, is the constituent that is primarily responsible for giving both Australian Sandalwood Essential Oil and East Indian Sandalwood their distinctive and exquisite woody aroma. As a crude approximation, Australian Sandalwood Essential Oil contains approximately 24-34% Santalol isomers whereas East Indian Sandalwood Essential Oil typically contains approximately 65-75% Santalol isomers.

In addition to its Santalol content, Australian Sandalwood Essential Oil is abundant in other sesquiterpenols that contribute to its aromatic depth, therapeutic properties and more stable shelf life.

As with Indian Sandalwood Essential Oil, Australian Sandalwood Essential Oil is calming and helps to instill a sense of inner peace. It is a good choice to try in cases of stress, depression or low self esteem. Australian Sandalwood is also considered an aphrodisiac.

Both Australian and East Indian Sandalwood trees are evergreen trees that are classified as being parasitic trees that feed off the roots of other neighboring plants for nutrition and water. It requires great expertise and patience to germinate and cultivate the tress.

It goes beyond the scope of this profile to delve into much detail about the trees themselves. For more historical and botanical information, the Book References shown towards the conclusion of this profile provides a list of books that include extensive information about this fascinating species.

According to a citation in The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy Third Edition Volume 1 - Foundations & Materia Medica, the yield of essential oil is reported to be only 2% from steam distillation of mature Australian sandalwood trees (Santalum spicatum) versus a yield of 6-7% for that of mature East Indian sandalwood trees (Santalum album).1

The endangerment of East Indian Sandalwood Essential Oil led to greater interest in Australian Sandalwood. However, the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species classifies both East Indian Sandalwood and Australian Sandalwood as vulnerable species. Refer to the Sustainability and Conservation Status section below for more details.

Australian Sandalwood Essential Oil Benefits and Uses

  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Anxiety/Agitation
  • Varicose Veins
  • Swollen Lymph Nodes
  • Headache
  • Insomnia
  • Bronchitis
  • Dry Cough
  • Oily Skin
  • Acne
  • Eczema
  • Psoriasis
  • Scalp Irritations
  • Genitourinary Tract Infections
  • Meditation
  • Prayer
  • Chakra Balancing

Source: Salvatore Battaglia, The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy Third Edition Volume 1 - Foundations & Materia Medica (Brisbane Australia: Black Pepper Creative, 2018), 529-530.

Botanical Name

Santalum spicatum

Plant Family

Santalaceae

Common Method of Extraction

Distillation

Of all the reputable sources of Australian Sandalwood Essential Oil that display the method of extraction, they are all listing distillation (meaning steam distillation or hydro distillation) as the method of extraction. However, Australian essential oil expert Mark Webb states that Australian Sandalwood Essential Oil is also produced via solvent extraction and vacuum codistillation.

Source: Mark A. Webb, Bush Sense: Australian Essential Oils and Aromatic Compounds. (Australia: Griffin Press, 2000), 98.

Plant Part Typically Used

Heartwood

Color

Bottle Depicting the Typical Color of Sandalwood Essential Oil

Clear to Sometimes Translucent Pale Yellow

Consistency

Medium

Perfumery Note

Base

Strength of Initial Aroma

Mild to Medium

Aromatic Description

Australian Sandalwood Essential Oil smells woody, sweet and balsamic. It shares a similar aromatic profile to that of East Indian Sandalwood Oil, but it is not identical in aroma. Read the Description section above for more details about its aroma.

Sustainability and Conservation Status

Vulnerable
Source: https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/172724199/172724334

To learn more about the conservation status of essential oil bearing plants and how to use the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, please refer to AromaWeb's Guide to Essential Oils and Sustainability.

Major Constituents of Steam Distilled Australian Sandalwood Essential Oil

  • a-Santalol
  • a-Bisabolol
  • (Z)-Nuciferol
  • (E,E)-Farnesol
  • Dendrolasin
  • (Z)-B-Santalol
  • (E)-B-Santalol

See Essential Oil Safety for more complete list of typical constituents.

Source: Private Communication: Day, 2004. Source cited in Robert Tisserand and Rodney Young, Essential Oil Safety (Second Edition. United Kingdom: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier, 2014), 420.

Sandalwood Essential Oil Safety Information

Tisserand and Young do not indicate any known hazards for Australian Sandalwood Essential Oil. Reading Tisserand and Young's full profile is recommended.

Source: Robert Tisserand and Rodney Young, Essential Oil Safety (Second Edition. United Kingdom: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier, 2014), 420.)

Australian Sandalwood Seed CO2 Supercritical Extract

A CO2 Supercritical Extract can be found that is produced from the seeds of the Australian Sandalwood tree. The extract is a lipid (fatty) extract that more closely resembles a carrier oil than an essential oil. It is important to pay close attention to the method of production/extraction as well as the part of the plant that is used to understand the properties, benefits, characteristics and safety implications of the oil/extract that you are working with.

In addition to being available as an essential oil, this botanical is available from a small number of reputable sources as a CO2 extract. CO2 extracts offer many advantages. However, they can have differing safety precautions than essential oils because the natural chemistry of CO2 extracts can differ from their essential oil counterparts. Not much safety information is documented from trusted sources for CO2 extracts. Use CO2 extracts with great care and do not assume that every CO2 extract has the same safety precautions as its essential oil counterpart.

Australian Sandalwood Essential Oil References

General Safety Information

Do not take any oils internally and do not apply undiluted essential oils, absolutes, CO2s or other concentrated essences onto the skin without advanced essential oil knowledge or consultation from a qualified aromatherapy practitioner. For general dilution information, read AromaWeb's Guide to Diluting Essential Oils. If you are pregnant, epileptic, have liver damage, have cancer, or have any other medical problem, use oils only under the proper guidance of a qualified aromatherapy practitioner. Use extreme caution when using oils with children and be sure to first read the recommended dilution ratios for children. Consult a qualified aromatherapy practitioner before using oils with children, the elderly, if you have medical issues or are taking medications. Before using this or any essential oil, carefully read AromaWeb's Essential Oil Safety Information page. For in-depth information on oil safety issues, read Essential Oil Safety by Robert Tisserand and Rodney Young.

Shelf Life

View Shelf Life Information

Important Information About the Profiles

The essential oil information provided on AromaWeb is intended for basic educational purposes only. The references to safety information, test results, constituents and percentages is generalized information. Essential oils can vary greatly in composition. The data is not necessary complete and is not guaranteed to be accurate. The essential oil photos are intended to represent the typical and approximate color of each essential oil. However, essential oil composition and color can vary based on harvesting, distillation, age of the essential oil and other factors. Profiles for several CO2 Extracts and absolutes are included within the directory, and are denoted as such.

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