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.
Currently there is an EU embargo on this oil. Paraguay producers have already filed for CITES certification. They are awaiting revertal on this and the 2020 export quota which is expected to be announced in August. Production has continued as usual but the CITES certificate will enable producers to ship globally except to the EU and UK. However, the market is hopeful that September will bring some positive news of the lifting of the embargo.
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