Locally Called “Palo Santo” meaning “sacred wood” in Spanish, guaiacwood is traditionally used as an incense.
Paraguay is the largest producer and exporter of guaiacwood oil having first commercialised production in the late 1930’s.
It is also used in South America as a hard wood for furniture and over use in recent years has led to the product being CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) restricted. This controls the amount of harvesting and regulates trade.
Guaiacwood grows in the Gran Chaco region of Paraguay. Its heartwood produces an essential oil with a woody, sweet, lactone odour, somewhat similar to some sandalwoods.
It’s a relatively inexpensive oil for the ‘woody’ ingredient family, making it a valuable essential oil for many fragrances especially in the detergent sector.
Its main components are sesquiterpene alcohols, guaiol and bulnesol, which make up about 85 % of the oil.
Production of guaiacwood oil remains steady and there are sufficient stocks available to cater for the demand. Under the 2020 CITES Export quota Paraguayan producers are barred from exporting the oil to the EU and UK. The sector is hoping that a favourable decision will be reached and the embargo lifted at the next meeting of the EU SRG (Scientific Review Group) in December.
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