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Potpourri: Sandalwood

The Sandalwood tree

One of my personal favorites, sandalwood has a sweet-woody, warm, balsamic aroma that improves with age. The essential oil blends wonderfully with most oils, especially rose, lavender, neroli and bergamot, as well as heliotrope, vanilla, musk, orris, and flower scents. Also called santal, it grows in India and the chain or cluster of islands known as the Malay archipelago. The wood is used as an incense in Chinese temples.

Use of this tree dates as far back as the fifth century B.C. Its oil is astringent, stimulant, diuretic, disinfectant, and expectorant. The oil should be kept in a cool, dark place in amber-colored bottles. Besides being an excellent fixative in potpourri, it is also useful in perfumes and dry sachets. The oil is also an excellent cleansing, astringent addition to massage and facial oils, bath oils, aftershaves, lotions and creams.

Aromatherapy benefits include: relaxing, centering, sensual. Essential, absolute and resin oils are volatile, fragrant materials extracted from the root, bark, wood, seed, fruit, leaf or flower of a single plant.

Steam distillation and cold pressing are used to extract the essential oil from the plant. Essential oils and absolutes are very potent and should always be used sparingly. Essential oils contain the odor, taste and medicinal properties of the plant itself, but in very concentrated form, with no base oil, alcohol, water or dilutants added.

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