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.
Trading for this oil is currently at a standstill. The market for this year is yet to be opened though prices are at consistently steady levels. It has been reported that the EU’s Scientific Research Group has issued a negative opinion on guaiacwood and as a result no EU import permits have been issued. It is hoped that this situation can be resolved before too long.
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