There are countless perfume ingredients that are used as fragrance notes. From roses to lavender, from cinnamon to vanilla, and we could go on for hours. Most people recognize scent notes like these: you know in which fragrance family the ingredient belongs (flowers, herbs, etc.) and what it smells like. In addition to these well-known fragrance notes, there are also many perfume ingredients that are less obvious. You've heard of it, but what it smells like is a mystery. The name doesn't say much and you also don't know exactly where the scent note comes from. Think of ozonic, musk, benzoin... In the series 'Vague perfume ingredients' we highlight one vague perfume ingredient.
What is sandalwood?
Sandalwood comes from the Santalum album tree which belongs to the Santalaceae plant family. Sandalwood is a popular note in perfumes because of its warm, woody and rich aroma. It is one of the oldest woods used in perfumes. In addition, it has been used as incense in rituals in large parts of Asia for thousands of years. The oil from sandalwood is also used as an essential oil because of various healing effects (such as relaxation and anti-inflammatory). Sandalwood is versatile and popular, but also rare; this makes sandalwood a precious perfume ingredient.
How is sandalwood made into a perfume ingredient?
To obtain the oil from sandalwood, steam distillation is used. The heart of the tree trunk and the roots are ground into powder and then dried. Then the powder is distilled to obtain an oil. It takes at least 30 years for the valuable core in the trunk to develop properly. Today, sandalwood is a protected wood species because too many trees were cut down in the 1970s. That's why it's important that sandalwood comes from sustainable and ethically sourced sources. Fortunately, enough sustainable programs have now been set up. In addition, there are also synthetic substitutes of worthy quality. The perfume ingredients santalol and polysantol can perfectly mimic the fragrance note of sandalwood.
What does sandalwood smell like?
Sandalwood as a fragrance note smells warm and full. It smells woody and is a bit powdery; soft, creamy and smooth. This type of wood even smells milky. Sandalwood gives perfumes depth and warmth. You will almost always find this note in oriental perfumes as a base note. This is because the smell of sandalwood remains on your skin for a long time after spraying a perfume. In addition, sandalwood is used in perfumery as a fixative, because it prevents other perfume ingredients from evaporating quickly.
Perfumes with sandalwood