The word "sandalwood" refers, in general, to the essential oils which include East Indian sandalwood oil (oil of Santalum album Linn.), West Indian sandalwood oil (oil of Amyris balsamifera Linn.), West Australian sandalwood oil (oil of Eucarya spicata, Santalum lanceolatum, Santalum preissianum and Eremophilia mitchelli) and African sandalwood oil (oil of Osyris tenuifolia). Of these, the East Indian sandalwood oil is extensively used in perfumery and commerce because of its non-varying composition, fixative properties and, most important of all, its sweet, warm, spicy and tenacious fragrance.
The East Indian sandalwood oil is obtained by the steam distillation of the heartwood of Santalum album which grows mainly in the states of Kamataka and Tamil Nadu in South India (formerly known as Mysore and Madras States). The heartwood obtained from the stem as well as root portions of the tree is used for the distillation of the oil.
The sandalwood oil E.I. has been found to contain greater than 90% α-santalol and β-santalol, 6% hydrocarbons (α-santalene, β-santalene and epi-β-santalene), aldehydes (tricycloekasantalal, exo-norbicycloekasantalal and teresantalal), ketones, phenols, acids (teresantalic acid), and heterocyclic compounds.