East Indian Sandalwood EO Profile

Santalum album ~ the organoleptic quality, aroma assessment and therapeutic uses, from S. album from Australia and India. Specific information and many recipes for use.


East Indian Sandalwood

By Jeanne Rose

 screen-shot-2016-09-21-at-9-25-50-amFigure 1. Santalum album grown in Australia and S. album grown in India

Common Name/ Latin Name/ Country of Origin ~ Sandalwood or Santal from various species of Santalum.  There are many species, that are currently used and distilled for their essential oil S. album L. — Indian sandalwood, white sandalwood, or chandana (India Indonesia, northern Australia); I examined two, S. album grown in Australia and S. album Rare that was grown in India.


Portion of the plant used in distillation, how it’s distilled, extracted and yields: The heartwood is distilled from the mature tree.  However, the tree takes 60-80 years to mature and because harvesting has exceeded the planting and maturing of fresh crop, it is becoming endangered. The heartwood is chipped and steam-distilled sometimes over another plant. Yield is 4-6.5%.

            This is a hemi-parasitic tree and requires one or more host plants by which it obtains nutrition through the roots. The roots attach themselves to the roots of other trees, sucking nutrients from their host and causing the other trees to perish.

Endangered or not The sandalwood tree has now become endangered due to overharvesting, greatly limiting supply and hence use. This is truly unfortunate. When you consider that in 1957 the world population was 2.8 billion and now it is about 6 billion it is pretty clear that with more people there is more demand for precious essential oils and commodities. I believe that we have to grow more but each of us must use less as each and every one of us is responsible for the damage to the planet by over-exploitation and desire. In regards to the pirates who are cutting ad stealing Sandalwood trees in India, Tony Burfield said in 2004, “The Sandalwood tree is being smuggled out of existence.”


Sandalwood Distillation

Step one in the custom distillation of Sandalwood heartwood. First you need a two-day soak in water. Try at least 500 grams. to be distilled in a small 20 liter (21 quarts) still. and distilled 2-3 days’ oil if carried out at a pressure of 30-40 psig, to produce the crude oil. The first 2-5% of “sandalwood terpenes” are rejected and then often redistilled. For those persons interested, distillation for Sandalwood is often considered best in the correct corresponding planetary hours maybe on a waning moon.

sandalwood-soakingFigure 2. Sandalwood soaking in water prior to distillation


Aging and Storage of Sandalwood: The wood can be stored indefinitely just as other wood and other essential oils are stored in dark, lightproof, airtight containers, glass preferred. However, that being said, I have some Sandalwood chips I purchased over 40 years ago that I stored in a paper bag in the dark basement that seems just fine with the delicious warm, woody odor intact. I have also pulled out all my old samples and bottles of Sandalwood essential oil, dusty as they are and as old as they are, they are somewhat more viscous but the scent has held up over all these years.

            Sandalwood ages well. The essential oil should be kept in a tightly sealed airtight container, glass, and in a cool, dark place such as a basement that has an ambient temperature of 50-55°. The refrigerator is not the place to store good Sandalwood oil.


Organoleptic ~ As a learning aid study the organoleptic qualities of essential oils. This is a method to help assist in describing and determining the quality of the essential oil that you are studying by involving the use of the sense organs for evaluation. These qualities are what you perceive through your senses; that is, what you can see, taste and smell as a degree of intensity. There is more to essential oil than its odor. Santalum album Rare from India (Eden Botanicals) had a very pale yellow tint, was clear, semi-viscous, with an intensity rating of 2 (1-10 with 10 being the most intense) and a oily unctuous taste tending to bitter. S. album Plantation grown in Australia was also a very pale yellow tint, clear, semi-viscous and with an intensity of 2-3, just slightly more intense than the Sandalwood grown in India and also an oily unctuous taste that was bitter.

Aroma Assessment ~ Language is important in recognizing smells.  An important part of scent training is to develop in common odor language based on olfactory standards.  The possession of such an odor language increases the powers of discrimination. If you can name it, you own it.

            I have noticed that Sandalwood Oil does not smell the same as in years past. The scent has changed due to several factors: 1) some product makers are using synthetic or partially synthetic oils and 2) because all botanical products change and alter depending on the season and the year. Try tasting Olive oil from one season to the next.

All the Sandalwoods I examined (10) were smooth and unctuous and were predominantly woody; with subsidiary notes. S. album Rare from India was most evocative of the scent that I knew 50 years ago, woody and floral with hay back note. The S. album plantation grown from Australia was also woody, floral and hay and marine back notes.   


The right nostril processes navigational related odors. And people favor the right nostril when detecting and evaluating the intensity of odors, hinting at a broader olfactory asymmetry. So if you are lost and wish to get home or wish to know the intensity of a scent, sniff the air with the right side. Left nostril smells the scent and right side nostril smells the intensity.

Smell left, smell right and then waft to get the entire scent experience.


Best method of application for Indian Sandalwood. Personally I use Indian Sandalwood ritually in meditation. For me it is calming and uplifting and helpful in overall well-being. The S. album Rare from India is both stimulating and grounding and I use it in meditation for opening that part of my being that is the seat of power and wisdom. According to the Vamana Purana, the wood is recommended for worshipping God Shiva. Goddess Lakshmi is believed to reside in the Sandalwood tree.


Which Sandalwood is best and which is the most therapeutic? The most therapeutic of these various Sandalwoods is the one that you enjoy more than the others. If you can inhale one with a significant amount of santalol — enjoy its benefits and use the others for application.


Collective information:


  • Body Care ~ such as a Sore throat. This is often another unpleasant symptom of a cold or flu, for which gargles are quite effective. For a dry throat that needs soothing, use two drops each of Sandalwood (Santalum album) and Lemon in half a glass of warm water. For sore throat due to coughing up of mucus, use Atlas Cedarwood (Cedrus atlantica) and Eucalyptus. In each case, continue gargling every few hours.


  • Emotional Care ~ For Depression (I can’t do anything, I will never do anything) ~ 10 drops each of Bergamot, Geranium, Grapefruit, Orange peel, Sandalwood and 3 drops of Ylang-Ylang Extra. Mix these together and put into a 1-dram vial. Inhale as needed.


  • Hair Care ~ The uncomfortable Scalp itch can be mitigated by massaging oils with a formula of essential oils into the scalp. Use 9 drops each of Black Spruce and Rosemary + 2 drops of Sandalwood (20 drops to 2 oz. of almond oil). Massage into scalp, put on a cap and sleep in it overnight. In the morning you can wash your hair.


  • Perfume ~ In perfumery some oils like Sandalwood take days to dry down making them a significant contribution to a long lasting perfume. Here is a scent that I enjoy. It is called Sensual Floral/Wood and is made with 100 ml floral water, with the added essential oils of 40 drops Orange or Clementine, 30 drops Sandalwood, 10 drops Neroli, 10 drops Rose, 6 drops Champa or Ylang, 4 drops other Floral. Use the formula as an after-bath or shower spray, or mist lightly on pillows and sheets. Wonderful as a room spray.


  • Skin Care ~ such as a Skin Itch from Chemotherapy

Calophyllum inophyllum 25-30 drops
Chamomile, Roman 5 drops
Rose distilled 2 drops
Rosewood 8 drops
Sandalwood East Indian 8 drops
Add the above to 2 oz. cream or with Calendula Infused Oil and apply as needed.


  • Sexual Blend for Men. This is for (premature ejaculation and to balance the autonomic nervous system) and is recommended by Victoria Edwards. Mix together 10 drops Bergamot EO, 2 drops Blue Tansy or Blue Cypress EO, 6 drops Sandalwood EO, 3 drops Lemon EO and 2 oz. (60 ml) carrier oil; Massage on lower body, especially around the groin area and just before sex.


  • Sandalwood (literature) is also mentioned in many books such as this quote from Hannibal by Thomas Harris “Here the air was music. Here were pale tears of Frankincense awaiting extracting, yellow Bergamot, Sandalwood, Cinnamon and Mimosa in concert, over the sustaining ground notes of genuine ambergris, civet, castor from the beaver, and essence of the musk deer.”


  • Woman’s Oil ~. Use 10 drops of Spikenard and Sandalwood as an inhalant to balance and harmonize your spirit. It is amazing how relaxing and focusing this simple remedy can be and all you need to do is inhale it.

An Amazing Jeanne Rose Tomato Tale story ~ I have loved this oil since 1960 and chose it and the Sandalwood fans as a scent. During my pregnancy in 1964 I would use the Sandalwood soap and when Amber was born, I kept at least one of her blankets in a bag with thin Sandalwood wood chips that were the size of a business card to add the scent to the ‘blankies’. Later, in 1969, when I started New Age Creations my skin care company, I used the cut and sifted wood chips with Rose and Clove as a potpourri, sleep pillow and the essential oil in lotions and products for Amber and I. To this day it is a scent that Amber prefers above all others.


Safety Considerations for Sandalwood oil: No contraindications, but may cause adverse skin reaction; a maximum use level of 2% is recommended in any product. Dilute before using. A patch test should be performed before use for those with sensitive skin.

Patch Test:  If applying a new essential oil to your skin always perform a patch test to the inner arm (after you have diluted the EO in a vegetable carrier oil). —Wash an area of your forearm about the size of a quarter and dry carefully. Apply a diluted drop (1 drop EO + 1 drop carrier) to the area. Then apply a loose Band-Aid and wait 24 hours. If there is no reaction, then go ahead and use the oil in your formulas. —The Aromatherapy Book, Applications & Inhalations, p. 64

For an in-depth discussion of all the Sandalwood oils please read my blog post


Fig. 11. Sandalwood and oil



10 thoughts on “East Indian Sandalwood EO Profile

  1. I have an antique bottle of (S. album) sandalwood oil. It could be 6o years old… It is viscus, and the smell is very light in intensity. I have a male friend who is having stressful times. I was thinking of making something along the lines of your emotional care blend…adding a few drops of the old sandalwood in with the heart note. Is the age of the oil affect its use in aromatherapy?

    • Hi lauren

      Despite the marketing hype the Australian sandalwood is not as ethical as they would like you to believe. Illegal harvesting is a serious issue as is rights to water licenses which are in direct competition with farmers who grow our food. Water is an extremely precious commodity in a very dry australia where droughts and water restrictions are common. Also our indigenous people who have been using sandalwood for thousands of years for traditional medicine are no longer allowed to touch the sandalwood trees that grow on the land they live on

      • Yes, I have mentioned illegal harvesting on all 4 of the Sandalwood posts and personally believe that water will be the biggest environmental issue for all people in the years to come.

  2. Hi Jeanne,
    Up in the very early morning and I went to your blog for the first time. The depth and breadth of your knowledge is amazing and I am so lucky to be your friend. Perhaps if I had a blog on the US Supreme Court it would be comparable, but I don’t and am too lazy to do it. So I congratulate you. Best,


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