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  • Writer's pictureRoss Henry

#4 Sandalwood as we Know it By: Dr. Dhanushka (Danny) Hettiarachchi

Updated: Apr 8, 2021

Since ancient times sandalwood is revered in oriental cultures as an essential ingredient in medicine, perfumery, cosmetics and religious activities. Heartwood of the Indian sandalwood (Santalum album) has been the historical source of sandalwood. Colonisation in late 17th century has introduced more species of genus Santalum from the Pacific region and Australia with unique olfactory properties. The oil distilled from the heartwood is priced in perfumery as an essential base note ingredient and a fixative. Sandalwood plays an important role in incense used for religious and aroma traditions, while traditional Indian and Chinese medicine use sandalwood in internal and topical formulations. Current scientific understanding on chemistry and pharmacology of this ancient ingredient has developed in the past decades. Unfortunately sandalwood is one of the highly exploited natural resources, resulting in synthetic molecules and other substitutes replace the divine scent. Promising developments have been achieved in sustainable supply of quality sandalwood during the past decades.

This presentation is a chemist’s point of view on the sustainability story of sandalwood, bringing the royal tree to its past glory. ​​​​​​​

ABOUT DANNY​​​​​ Danny is a natural products chemist specialised in essential oils and plant lipids with over fifteen years of experience in sandalwood industry. He is currently the product manager at Quintis Australia, the largest sandalwood grower and distiller in the world. Prior to his current role he was a private consultant for sandalwood and agarwood, he commenced his sandalwood journey at Wescorp Group as a research scientist working on Australian and Pacific sandalwood varieties. Danny is an adjunct academic at Edith Cowan University, University of Western Australia and Sri Jayewardenepura University. He holds a Doctor of Philosophy and Master of Pharmacy (Pharmacognosy) degrees from Curtin University Australia, Bachelor of Pharmaceutical Sciences from Sri Ramachandra University, India and a Chartered Chemist of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute. He is member of the Technical Committee of Australian Society of Cosmetic Chemists and the International Standards Organisation’s Committee on Essential Oils. Since 2013 he serves as the expert witness on sandalwood for State of Western Australia.

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We did a Podcast on Danny that talked more about him as a person, than the Sandalwood, please check out this informal interview:

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