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Sandalwood Essential Oil

By Maisha Liwaru

             I love the smell of Sandalwood.  It can be burning as incense, simmering in a diffuser or being used as a perfume.  I just love the way it smells. It is hypnotic and takes me both far away and back in time.  Every since I was a child, I have been fascinated by the beauty and mystery of ancient India.  I often shop at the local East Indian store.  It is always a therapeutic experience for me.  All of my senses are overwhelmed in a positive way.  As I enter the store, I hear the unmistakable sound of Indo/Pakistani music coming from the video playing on the big screen TV located near the entrance. The dancers on the screen catch my eye and I feel like dancing myself but I contain myself. I run my hands over the yards of billowy sari fabrics trimmed in gold, silver and small beads. I inhale every molecule I can of the scent of curry, sandalwood, and garam masala. Then I make my usual purchases, which include, among many other things, hot mango pickles and the Indian answer to trail mix.  The mix is hot and crispy and taste so good with a cup of hot peppermint tea. I take one more sniff before I go.  I love the smell of the Indian store, especially the sandalwood.

            After Rose, Frankincense and Myrrh, Sandalwood is the oldest perfume.  Throughout the centuries, India and Indonesia have always been the main source of premium quality Sandalwood essential oil.  The Mysore, India regain produces the highest quality of the Sandalwood oil, which is called White Sandalwood.  Other countries, which produce Sandalwood, are Australia, Fiji, East Africa, Polynesia and the West Indies but the quality is not as good as the Indian and Indonesian Sandalwoods.

Sandalwood is used as incense, in cosmetics, and in perfume.  Some of the first to use Sandalwood after the Indians were the Arabs who used Sandalwood sawdust as a base for solid perfumes. Sandalwood blends beautifully with a variety of other essential oils including but not limited to bergamot, ginger, jasmine, lavender, lemon, neroli, oak moss, orange, patchouli, pine, rosewood, rose, and violet. When it is blended with Rose oil, it becomes Attar of Roses. And of course, Sandalwood stands alone and a sensual perfume.

            The Sandalwood tree is a small evergreen with a brown-gray trunk.  Its branches are slender and it has leathery leaves and small pink flowers. Other trees cannot survive near a Sandalwood tree because it is a parasite with roots that burrow into the roots of others trees and draw out their water and minerals.  This of course kills any surrounding plants. It takes at least 30 years for a Sandalwood tree to mature enough to extract a substantial amount of oil from its heart and roots.   Sixty-year-old trees are preferable. That is one of the reasons Sandalwood oil is so valuable and expensive.

            Sandal oil, as it is often called, is steam distilled from wood chips, then ground into a powder and dried.  The oil, which can be used as a fixative, is clear with a brownish, yellowish, or greenish tint.  The scent is sweet, woody and balsamic, long lasting yet faint. 30% of all men and 50% of all women’s quality fragrances contain Sandalwood essential oil. It is also used in soap, detergents and cosmetics. Sandalwood is very versatile.

Sandalwood is a natural for Aromatherapy. It can be used to treat acne, dry, chapped or cracked skin, greasy skin, depression, tension, anxiety, stress and as an aphrodisiac. Add a few drops to an ounce of emu oil and apply to the area of the skin that needs treatment.  For emotional uses, put full strength in a diffuser or sniff from a small bottle. As an aphrodisiac, heat Sandalwood oil and massage oil briefly in a diffuser then dab a few drops into the palm of your hand and use to massage your spouse. I am sure you will grow to love the mellow, soothing, relaxing and exotic aroma of Sandalwood.

 Next issue, I will feature two other woody fragrance that are much more economical then sandalwood, cedar and rosewood. 

        Emu's Zine does not diagnose, prescribe or dispense medical advice.  We report and attempt to educate the public about the possible health benefits derived through the use of emu oil based products and consumption of low cholesterol, low fat emu meat.   This site contains personal testimonies and professional observations.   We encourage people to contact their family physicians regarding any health problems they may have for proper diagnosis and treatment.

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