Friday, August 20, 2010

Perfumer's Palette - Sandalwood

image from Tropical Rainforest Aromatics ( carving size sandalwood from Vanuatu )
Portions of this article appeared last year on my blog . Though I discussed sandalwood over a year ago ,
I felt it was important to include the article here .
Sacred , sensuous , scarce.... legendary Sandalwood has been used for centuries in perfumery . The tree must be at least 30 years old to provide oil of any quantity or quality . The trees are never felled ( except by poachers ) , but are uprooted during the rainy season . The oil is distilled from the heart wood , and the sapwood has been used for carvings of temples and deities in India and Japan . The chips and bark are used for incense . The flowers contain no scent !! The best sandalwood is considered to come from the Mysore region of India , where the government owns and controls all trees ( every branch , twig and chip is inventoried and tagged.) If on private land , the landowner recieves 75% of the proceeds . Very good sandalwood is now coming from the Tamil Nadu region of India where the trees are more mature .
Efforts have been made to cultivate the sandalwood tree , but most have failed . The tree is parasitic , and although it recieves some nutrients through photosythesis , the sandalwood tree must steal from the roots of neighboring trees and seems to refuse efforts to domesticate it . It grows when and where it wants to grow !

Knowing this is in very short supply is a sad fact indeed . It will be at least 30 years before the supply can be replenished . I have purchased a variety of sandalwood essential oils , absolutes and attars so that I may never be without it's soothing scent .
At maturity , a sandalwood tree reaches a height of about 60 feet , is about 5 feet in diameter and yeilds up to 60 kilos of essential oil , through steam distillation .

Attar is an ancient traditional method of distillation where volatile aroma materials are slow-distilled directly into sandalwood oil , thereby stabilzing their scent . One is distilled from earth ( dirt ) called Mitti Attar and is unbelieveably rich and sweet . Shamama Attar is a blend of spices and woods and oud , is incredibly complex and takes hours to unfold . The Kewda Attar starts out bitter and green , the volatile Kewda Blossoms preserved beautifully in the soft rich sandalwood . White sandalwood from Australia is sharper and greener , and reminds me of PG Bois Blond .
Creamy smooth , soft and powdery , sandalwood has no top note , but acts as a tenacious fixative . It's scent is stable on the skin for hours and blendable with almost any other aroma . Sandalwood takes pride of place in any perfumers palette . Remember to appreciate this for what it is-sacred , overharvested and in short supply for the rest of our lifetimes !
For more information , please read Trygve's ( Enfleurage , NYC) article here , and Christopher McMahon's ( White Lotus Aromatics ) article here . For purchasing , may I suggest Essential Oil University here.

Here is the chemical breakdown of Mysore Sandalwood heartwood , Santalum Album :
cis-alpha santalol 45.39
cis-beta santalol 20.54
trans alpha bergamotal 6.31
beta santalol 5.01
cis-nuciferol 3.83
epi-beta-santalol 3.18
trans-beta santalol 1.78
cis-lanceol 1.74
Santalol 1.53
beta-santalene 1.44
alpha-santalol .87
epi-beta santalene .86
alpha santalene .69
beta-santalic acid .32
ar-curcumene .26
trans-alpha bergamotene .16
santene .14
In aromatherapy , sandalwood supports the lymphatic and nervous system . Also used in yoga and meditation , sandalwood was believed to oxygenate the pineal gland influencing psychic ability and helping to remove negative programming from the cells .

The list of fragrances containing sandalwood is long indeed , but my favorites featuring sandalwood :
Pink Lotus - always and forever my Number 1 , HG , favorite fragrance of all
Ligne St. Barth Santal parfum
PG Bois Blond
Shamama Attar , Mitti Attar ( from White Lotus )
Bill Blass Couture 3
Tell me about your experience with sandalwood and be entered in PP #4 drawing . This weeks give-away drawing next MONDAY August 23 ( make a note of it ! ) will include samples of some of my attars ( diluted in jojoba oil ) , St. Barth Santal parfum , some heliotrope and galbanum fragrance samples and some surprises too !


bettina said...

Santal Mysore by Annick Goutal is my favorite.Nice and interesting article Carol

waftbyCarol said...

I have never seen AG sandalwood...maybe only in Europe ?
Thanks for the heads up !
Are you getting rested up ? Or working too hard to rest...!

Rappleyea said...

Another great post! Thank you! I've never tried attars - where do you get them? They sound incredibly beautiful. Today I'm wearing Sonoma Scent Studio's Champagne de Bois which has a beautiful sandalwood base going. I'm really enjoying this scent.

I've practiced aromatherapy for 15 years along with my massage and energy work practice, so I've used sandalwood quite a bit. The two things it excels in are bronchitis and urinary tract infections. Amazing stuff!

Lately I've been getting my oils from a source recommended by Ayala Sender - I've been impressed with his prices and his quality.

Oh, and you've sold me on the Pink Lotus!

lady jicky said...

I am not a sandlewood fan. I like it as a basenote to keep the other scents humming but my idea of hell is to be locked in a room full of Samsara! LOL
So - I guess I would say Mitsouko or Shalimar as they have it in the basenote somewhere I think.
I did not know we had a sandlewood growing here! I wonder what the botanical name is ?? I must goggle.

waftbyCarol said...

Hi Girls
I do not like Samsara at all . It is far from a true Sandalwood soliflore...synthetic ? Dunno...
Champagne du Bois is my number one lemming at the moment...wanna do a swap ?

waftbyCarol said...

BTW the genus-species of Australian Sandalwood is Santalum spicatum...

thescentmuse said...

Newbie nose here to the edp, edt side of perfumes, so my favorite sandalwood is perfume oil from Pixie Potions, called Imperial Sandalwood.
White sandalwood can sometime be very dry and sharp to my nose; the red a bit more cedary and spicey.

Rappleyea said...

Carol -
Sure! Let me know what you're thinking.

Rappleyea said...

Lady Jicky:
I understand the older Samsara used the real thing and is much better. Reformulation is a pox on perfume!

waftbyCarol said...

Hi Donna
Name a few things you'd like to try . Hopefully I have some to swap . We can swap equal amounts , like 10 ml ?
E-mail me !!

lady jicky said...

Donna - I hated it from the first time it came out!! LOL
Never mind, more for the Samsara lovers out there.

lady jicky said...

Oh Carol - I looked it up and I tell you I have never heard of it but it seems to only grow in Western Australia . Its hot and very sandy there - must need that.

waftbyCarol said...

Intersting , because the aroma is hotter , drier and spicier than the Indian species !

lady jicky said...

Now that is interesting - so it must be the same as the way the wine growers pick their spots to grow this grape type and that!

Christen said...

Oh, honey, you know I love all of her many incarnations! My favorite clean sandalwood is Diptyque's Tam Dao. It never ceases to please, and I am constantly asked what I am wearing when I have it on. My fave funky sandalwood is Serge Lutens' Santal de Mysore. Ay yi yi!! So gorgeous and sexy - that cumin funk is incredible! I'm even happy with the cheapie solid perfume Sandalwood from Pacifica :) Just barely put on Lorenzo Villoresi's version, and it is heaven! I can very much see his signature touch in there...

Great informative post, amiga!



waftbyCarol said...

I love the Pacifica Sandalwood too . I have the solid and it has such a great orange-y opening .
We have a new Whole Foods that carries it !

Dixie said...

I have some of the original Samsara that is supposed to have the Mysore sandalwood in it. Other than that, I guess I'm not that familiar with it. Thank you for the informative article!

waftbyCarol said...

I have vintage Samsara now and I love it !

chris g said...

Carol, I'm really loving this series! I've hoarded about three drams of Mysore sandalwood, which I love to sniff deeply every now and then. I also have a few drams of Tamil sandalwood which is aging very nicely. Strangely, I don't have any fragrances that feature sandalwood.

waftbyCarol said...

Thanks Chris !
I have about the same amount of Mysore Sandalwood essential oil I am hoarding !

Julie Ellen said...

Hello Carol -- hey, anybody who doesn't want your wonderful samples, just send them to me!! I know that there is sandalwood in the base of some of my perfumes, but I do like what Pacifica has done with the scent. I bought the soap just for the guest room, and decided it was really just for me. Since have added the solid perfume to my gym bag in the winter--a great refresher in cold weather. love the warmth of it all. Hey, include me in the drawing, maybe I'll have the luck this time. thanks,

rappleyea said...

Whew! I'm getting old!! I read this last night but couldn't post as I was having internet problems. So I came back today and read the comments, and was surprised to find one from me! I thought I was losing it! But then I realized some of the comments were from last year - DUH!!

Anyway, saw your comment regarding vintage Samsara - so glad you've come over to the light! ;-)

waftbyCarol said...

Thanks for your enthusiasm , Julie ellen !
Rappleyea , sorry to confuse , I originally poted this article a year ago...HA !!
I'm ok , you're ok....