For more than 4000 years, people have valued sandalwood as a perfume, incense and medicine. But over the last 100 years we've seen significant declines in populations of sandalwood species--the result of under-regulated over-harvesting driven by an ever-increasing demand for the exotic, warm, sensuous aroma of fine sandalwood. Aura Cacia's commitment to environmentally responsible practices led us to search out a solution to this problem. And we found it--a source of sandalwood that offers the quality and aromatherapy benefits of our current oil along with action to help preserve the supply of sandalwood for future generations. We have converted Aura Cacia sandalwood essential oil and re-formulated all Aura Cacia aromatherapy products using Indian sandalwood oil to use sustainably harvested Australian sandalwood oil. It's clear that the Australian government has the most aggressive and successful program for protecting sandalwood from over-harvesting.
Our source of sustainably harvested Australian sandalwood is one of our
Well Earth partners. Learn more about Well Earth, our sustainable source
Australian sandalwood is just one of several species of sandalwood used to produce sandalwood essential oil. It comes from Santalum spicatum , a small tree found in the dry regions of central Western Australia. These trees have been harvested since the 1800s, with much of the production going to China to make joss sticks (incense). Regulations to control harvest of the trees were first put in place in 1929 (Sandalwood Control Act). Today, the Western Australian Government regulates the sandalwood oil industry and restricts the harvesting of wild sandalwood trees to ensure sustainability. In addition, the Department of Conservation and Land Managements (CALM) is responsible for the environmental management of sandalwood to ensure its long-term ecological integrity.
The chemical components of Australian sandalwood essential oil are similar to Indian sandalwood, but there are differences in levels of those constituents and in their respective aroma profiles. The most significant difference in make-up is that Indian sandalwood has much higher levels of the chemical component santalol (60 to 70% versus 25 to 30%). There is little difference in the enduring base note that is vital to sandalwood's aromatherapy use. (Long-lasting sandalwood--along with oils such as cedar, frankincense, rose, and patchouli--is considered a base-note oil.) There is some difference in the middle notes of the two oils oil and a clear distinction in the top notes (the first aroma you smell). Australian sandalwood has a more resinous, drier and less sweet top note than Indian sandalwood. For aromatherapy uses, Australian and Indian sandalwood are interchangeable--and both oils are excellent fixatives.
Those who have a long experience with Indian sandalwood oil may find the volatile top note of the Australian oil a little unfamiliar at first, but the high-quality Australian oil provides the full aromatherapy benefits of sandalwood from sustainably harvested trees--the key to reversing the over-harvesting that threatens the continued availability of sandalwood. Australian sandalwood essential oil is not only great for aromatherapy, it's great for the future of sandalwood as well. Aura Cacia is leading the way to a sustained supply of this long-prized oil with a commitment to sell only sandalwood oil produced from sustainably harvested sources.
The wood of the sandalwood tree is both used for carvings and powdered to make incense. Sandalwood essential oil is one of our oldest perfumery materials and is used today in natural fragrances and high-quality perfumes for both its aroma and its ability to "fix" other scents. In aromatherapy, sandalwood is valued for its calming, cleansing, centering and sensual properties. It is also added to products for use on chapped, dry or aging skin. In order for us all to continue to enjoy the many benefits of sandalwood, these wonderful trees must be harvested within protection programs with aggressive replanting and at levels that do not deplete wild populations. The Australian sandalwood now used in all Aura Cacia products is produced from trees that are sustainably harvested.