Relaxing is something I love to do, yet don't do nearly enough. For the times that I do need to engage in some stress relief and relaxation, there are certain things I like to use to help create a proper atmosphere. Candles are one (pine or cedar scents, preferably), and incense is another. I have burned incense for years. My favorite scent? Sandalwood, by far. It creates such a sense of peace, and motivates me creatively. Sandalwood is also used for protection, and is quite useful in ridding a space of negativity. It is a handy thing to have around.
|(Marayoor, South India ~ the only place in Kerala where there is natural growth|
of Sandalwood trees)
Many countries grow Sandalwood: Australia, Indonesia, the Pacific Islands, Sri Lanka, and a chief producer is Southern India. Indian Sandalwood (Santalum Album) is indigenous to Southern India, and looks to be the most sought after. It is also endangered. The trees are owned by the government who try to monitor the harvesting of the trees, but illegal tree chopping is a huge problem, many trees getting the axe well before their time. One source said that Sandalwood is not commercially valuable until it's at least 8 years old. Another source said that trees are being harvested at age 14, before they are mature. Going by both accounts, it sounds like Sandalwood is commercially valuable well before it has fully matured which is creating a problem with tree crops, and even though some harvesters are waiting until the trees are 14 to cut them, they are still not fully mature...and none of that really matters anyway because shady tree thieves are sneaking in and cutting down trees illegally no matter how old they are. The bottom line is that prices are ever increasing because legally harvested supply can't meet demand. It's all such a shame. The thought of a possible future world without Sandalwood...I think I will move on from the sad stuff.
In addition to the wood of the Sandalwood tree, there is also the production of essential oils from the tree's bark, and also from the heartwood which is the most precious part of the tree. These days the oil is extracted by a steam distillation method. Super heated steam is passed through powdered wood. Steam helps unlock and carry away the oil held within the cellular structure of the wood. Once the steam is cooled, you are left with hydrosols (a.k.a. floral waters) and essential oil.
|(Old drawing of essential oil distillery)|
|(Sandalwood Essential oil)|
|(Hindu Priest making Chandan)|
|(Different types of Sandalwood Incense ~ from right to left: stick incense, coil incense, and a type of|
cup incense that I had not seen before)
|(The Chakra System)|
|(Antique carved Sandalwood box)|