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Sandalwood History

Sandalwood has been used for thousands of years in traditional Chinese, Ayurvedic and Australian Aboriginal medicine to treat conditions like stress, insomnia, eczema and acne. Buddhist monks inhaled Sandalwood before meditation and Australian Aborigines used the scent to relax and focus before walkabout.

1845 was the year Western Australia’s first export of Sandalwood left its pristine shores. Bound for the far east, this valuable and revered wood was to become a great industry for Western Australia.

It was 1875 when Australian Sandalwood was first distilled. Since the 1840’s the tree had been a huge export earner for Western Australia, with tonnes of the wood sent to China each year to produce incense for Buddhist worship.

By 1916, the commercial production of Australian Sandalwood oil had begun. The basic processing and distillation produced an oil that was much cruder than the pure Australian Sandalwood oil sold by Mt Romance today.

It was in the 1920’s that the Sandalwood harvests peaked with over 14,000 tonnes harvested to meet the strong Chinese demand for the wood. This prompted the Western Australian Government to pass a legislation to limit harvests at a sustainable level. This legislation continues today.

In 1921 the production of Australian Sandalwood oil became more scientifically controlled. By improving the processing and introducing quality controls Plaimar Ltd improved the concentrations of Santalols (chemical components used to classify the quality of Sandalwood oils) in the Australian Sandalwood oil that was extracted.

This improvement in quality saw Australian Sandalwood oil recognized as a medicinal treatment in pharmacopoeias from a variety of countries, including Britain, France, Japan and Belgium.

The oil was taken orally as an antiseptic and was a favoured treatment for venereal disease until the introduction of modern antibiotics. The widespread use of antibiotics caused the commercial production of Australian Sandalwood oil to stop in 1963.

It was in 1997 - over 30 years later - when Mt Romance rediscovered this native essential oil. Recognising its wide range of applications, Mt Romance introduced Australian Sandalwood oil to the cosmetics, aromatherapy, fragrance and therapeutic markets globally, carving out a niche position for Australian Sandalwood oil as natural, sustainable and healing ingredient.

Learn more about Australian Sandalwood here.