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Spice talk – Sandalwood


Today, we’ll be talking about sandalwood. This particular piece of wood comes from trees and shrubs in the genus Santalum (which also contains many other species). The wood is anything but traditionally “tree like” as it tends towards a dark or reddish color and doesn’t really grow tall enough to qualify as a tree. Sandalwood has always held an important place in perfume. Before synthetics, perfume was quite expensive and difficult to create, so perfumers employed the use of “natural” materials with structures similar to perfume’s key components in order to make perfume more affordable. Sandalwood is one such material – it is a natural perfume fixative . When you smell perfume, you are smelling perfume ingredients in an idealized arrangement. Synthetics in perfume exist to fix perfume’s major components into a small, easy to store and transport solution that is also fairly affordable. Sandalwood has been added to perfume for centuries because its molecules have similar structures to perfume notes.

The genus Santalum contains somewhere between 80-100 species of plant which are native to various regions throughout the world. Most perfume sandalwood comes from S. album, also known as Indian sandalwood – this is the most common type of sandalwood sold. Other types of sandalwood include Hawaiian sandalwood (Santalum paniculatum) and Australian sandalwood (Santalum spicatum). Australian sandalwood is not nearly as popular with perfume makers because the oil doesn’t have the same quality as Indian sandalwood’s. Also, most trees of this species are protected by legislation in order to preserve them for future use.

Perfume companies buy their sandalwood oil through perfume ingredient suppliers. A perfume supplier contracts with farmers who cut sandalwood trees in the jungles of India (mostly in Karnataka). The perfume companies then purchase this oil for use in perfume.

Sandalwood is often used to make incense; historically, it was also used medicinally by Indian cultures.

The scent of sandalwood perfume has been described as woody, earthy, smoky, spicy and dry. Sandalwood perfume is deep – perfume companies often use it to fix perfume compositions that contain notes like vanilla or animalic facets which could be considered “too sweet.” Sandalwood fixes perfume by binding the molecules together to make a whole rather than several separate perfume notes.

Because of the magic that sandalwood presents to perfumery,Β  they can be used as a base note or top note in perfumes such as Chanel No.5 and Jean Paul Gaultier Classique. You can try our parfum range with sandalwood as one of the ingredients and feel the magic for yourself!

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