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Difference Between Cedarwood And Sandalwood | Cedarwood Vs. Sandalwood

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Cedarwood oil and sandalwood oil are very popular essential oils that are famous for their unique scents. Both Cedarwood and sandalwood have been used for centuries for their many beneficial benefits (1). They have been used as a part of traditional medicine for ages.

Both oils are derived from the wood of trees and thus are wood oils. They have a warm and woodsy scent that is grounding and also promotes calmness. Both oils have a smoky, woody scent to them.

Despite these similarities, there are certain differences as well between the two. In this post, the difference between these two oils is discussed in detail.

Extraction Methods of Cedarwood and Sandalwood Essential Oils

Few of the common extraction methods for Cedarwood and Sandalwood Essential Oils are as follows: 

Extraction Process of Cedarwood Essential Oil

The extraction of essential oils from plant materials is a specialized process that can vary depending on the type of plant and the desired end product.

  • Steam Distillation: This is the most common method for extracting cedarwood essential oil. In this process, steam is passed through the cedarwood chips or sawdust. The steam helps to release the essential oil from the plant material.

  • Hydro distillation: Hydro distillation involves submerging the cedarwood material in water and then heating the mixture until steam is produced. The steam carries the essential oil compounds and is then condensed back into a liquid.

  • Cold Press Extraction: Cold press extraction can also be used. This method is more commonly used for citrus essential oils but can be applied to cedarwood as well. The wood is mechanically pressed to extract the oil, without the use of heat.

  • Solvent Extraction: Solvent extraction is generally not used for cedarwood essential oil because it can leave behind traces of the solvent in the final product, which is not ideal for therapeutic uses.

  • Carbon Dioxide Extraction: In this type of extraction method carbon dioxide is used as a solvent under high pressure and low temperature to extract the oil.

Extraction Process of Sandalwood Essential Oil

The extraction of sandalwood essential oil is a specialized process that aims to capture the aromatic and therapeutic compounds found in the wood. Here are some common methods used for the extraction of sandalwood essential oil:

  • Steam Distillation: This is the most traditional and commonly used method for extracting sandalwood essential oil. In this process, steam is passed through the ground sandalwood. The steam helps to release the essential oil from the wood.

  • Hydro distillation: In hydro distillation, the sandalwood is soaked in water and then heated to produce steam, which carries the essential oil compounds. The steam is then condensed back into a liquid, and the oil is separated from the water.

  • Carbon Dioxide Distillation: In this method, carbon dioxide is used as a solvent under high pressure and low temperature to extract the oil. This method can be more expensive but often results in a very pure and therapeutically potent oil.

  • Solvent Extraction: Though not commonly used for sandalwood due to the potential for solvent residues, solvent extraction involves using a solvent like hexane or ethanol to dissolve the essential oil from the wood.

  • Water Distillation: The steam and oil are captured and condensed, and then the oil is separated from the water. This method is less commonly used today due to the lower efficiency and quality of oil produced.

Aroma and Scent Profile

Cedarwood Essential Oil

  • Woody: The most prominent note in cedarwood essential oil is, unsurprisingly, a strong woody scent that is reminiscent of freshly cut logs or pencil shavings.

  • Earthy: Alongside the woody notes, cedarwood often has an earthy undertone that can be described as grounding and rich.

  • Sweet: Some varieties of cedarwood essential oil have a subtle sweetness that softens the strong woody and earthy notes.

  • Balsamic: There can also be a resinous, balsamic quality to the oil, adding complexity to its aroma profile.

  • Slightly Spicy: Some people detect a hint of spiciness or even a slight camphoraceous note, although this is generally subtle compared to the dominant woody and earthy tones.

Sandalwood Essential Oil

  • Woody: The foundational note of sandalwood essential oil is a rich, woody aroma that is both robust and subtle.

  • Sweet: The scent of Sandalwood often carries a sweet undertone that adds a layer of complexity to its woody base.

  • Creamy: Unlike many other woody oils, sandalwood has a creamy, almost milky quality that makes it smooth and inviting.

  • Exotic: There's an exotic, slightly spicy aspect to sandalwood that makes it intriguing and different from many other woody scents.

  • Warm: The overall impression of sandalwood is one of warmth, making it a popular choice in colder months or for evening wear.

Common Uses and Benefits

The following are the common uses of cedarwood essential oil and sandalwood essential oil. 

Uses and Benefits Cedarwood Essential Oil

The following are the common uses of cedarwood essential oil in different fields:

In Aromatherapy 

In Skincare

As an Insect Repellant

Cedarwood essential oil is often used in aromatherapy, its calming and grounding properties make it a popular choice for relaxation.

Cedarwood essential oil has antibacterial properties and can be used in minor cuts, acne, and wounds to prevent infection.

Cedarwood essential oil is a natural insect repellent and is often used to ward off mosquitoes, ants, and other pests.

The oil is commonly used to improve the quality of sleep. A few drops can be added to a diffuser before bedtime to promote relaxation.

The oil can be used to soothe skin irritations and redness.

It can also be used in pet care to repel fleas and ticks, but always consult a veterinarian for proper dilution and application methods.

The warm, woody aroma of cedarwood can help uplift mood.

Cedarwood can help regulate sebum production, making it useful for balancing oily skin.

A few drops can be added to a cloth and placed in drawers or closets to repel moths and keep linens fresh.

The oil is sometimes used to relieve congestion and improve breathing, making it a choice for use during colds or allergies.

Cedarwood oil can also be added to shampoos or used in a scalp massage to combat dandruff and promote hair growth.

Cedarwood oil can be used in outdoor sprays or diffusers to keep away insects during outdoor activities.

Uses and Benefits of Sandalwood Essential Oil

In Aromatherapy 

In Skincare

In meditation and spiritual practices

Sandalwood essential oil is renowned for its calming and soothing properties, making it ideal for reducing stress and anxiety.

Sandalwood essential oil is rich in antioxidants and can help reduce damage caused by free radicals, making it a good choice for your skin care routine. 

The calming and grounding properties of sandalwood essential oil make it a popular choice for enhancing meditation practices.

The oil is believed to promote clarity and focus, often used to enhance concentration during tasks that require attention.

The oil has excellent moisturizing properties and can be used to treat dry skin and bring a healthy glow to the face.

The oil is often used in spiritual rituals and ceremonies to promote a sense of peace and serenity.

Sandalwood can help balance emotions and is often used to alleviate symptoms of depression and mood swings.

Sandalwood is known for its anti-inflammatory properties and can be used to soothe irritated skin, including conditions like eczema and psoriasis.

The oil is often used in temples and spiritual gatherings to create a sacred and serene atmosphere.

The oil has been traditionally used to aid in respiratory issues and can be diffused or inhaled to help clear airways.

The oil has antiseptic properties that can help treat acne and other skin infections.

The complex aroma of sandalwood can help facilitate a state of mindfulness, aiding in deeper spiritual practices.

What Are The Key Differences Between Sandalwood And Cedarwood Oils? 

Following are some of the key differences between Sandalwood and Cedarwood based on their properties and characteristics:



Derived from

Sandalwood trees
Cedar tree (coniferous tree)


Treat sunburn, reduces blemishes, fade away scar, remove blackheads and helps in skin tightening
Heal itchy skin, reduces fine line & wrinkles, reduce acne, improves skin quality


Australian Sandalwood, East Indian Sandalwood and Hawaiian Sandalwood
Cedarwood atlas, cedarwood himalayan, cedarwood texas, cedarwood virginia

Sandalwood Oil

Sandalwood essential oil is derived from sandalwood trees that are more than 80 years old through the steam distillation process (2). In the case of sandalwood, it is stated that the older the tree, the stronger the aroma. Following are some of the benefits of sandalwood oil:

Calming Properties

This is one of the most effective properties of sandalwood. Sandalwood offers mental clarity and promotes peace and relaxation. Sandalwood is also related to spirituality and is used in many spiritual ceremonies (7). It is used in meditation, prayers, etc.

Different Varieties of Sandalwood

  • Australian sandalwood is mainly used in perfumes because of its toasted musky scent notes.
  • Hawaiian sandalwood has a creamy and tropical undertone and is less on the sweet side.

Cedarwood essential oil

Cedarwood comes from the cedar tree, which is a coniferous tree and is found in the mountain region.

Purifying in Nature

One of the key properties of Cedarwood is that it is purifying in nature, which means that it helps in clearing the skin by removing impurities and dirt from the skin. It also manages sebum production on the skin and thus reduces excess oil generation on the skin. Thus, reduces the chances of acne and other skin issues caused due to excess oil. It also improves skin complexion.

Different Varieties of Cedarwood

  • Cedarwood atlas promotes relaxation. It is also used in clearing congestion.
  • Cedarwood Himalayan is used in insecticides.
  • Cedarwood, Texas, is famous for its grounding properties. It is also used in bug and insect repellants.
  • Cedarwood, Virginia is used for its properties that help promote relaxation.

Cedarwood And Sandalwood Oils And How To Use Them?

Cedarwood oil is extracted from cedarwood trees, whereas sandalwood oil is extracted from sandalwood trees. Both oils can be used in many different manners, as follows:


Both cedarwood oil and sandalwood oil can be used in aromatherapy to promote relaxation. They can be diffused with the help of an essential oil diffuser.


A few drops of these essential oils can be added to a warm bath for a relaxing and grounding experience. It helps add extra moisture to your skin.


Both oils can be used in massage to promote relaxation. They can be blended with other carrier oils such as coconut oil, sweet almond oil, jojoba oil, and essential oils for a customized massage experience.

Skin and Hair Care

Both oils can be used in skin and hair care to soothe dry, itchy skin and promote hair growth. They can be added to a moisturizer or hair oil for added benefits.

You can also use them in a compress by mixing them with water.

*Note: It's important to use essential oils safely. Always dilute them with carrier oil before applying them to the skin. Essential oils blend well with carrier oils and serve their purpose. It is recommended to do a patch test before using them on large areas of skin. And it's important to avoid using essential oils on babies, children, or pregnant women without consulting a doctor first.

Safety and Precautions

The following are the safety and precautions that are needed to be taken care of before applying cedarwood and sandalwood essential oils:

  • Always perform a patch test on a small area of skin to check for allergic reactions or sensitivities before using either oil extensively.

  • Both oils should be diluted with a carrier oil like jojoba, coconut, or almond oil before topical application.

  • Some people may experience skin irritation or allergic reactions. Always dilute cedarwood oil and perform a patch test first.

  • Cedarwood essential oil should not be ingested. It is meant for external use only.

  • While cedarwood is often used as a natural insect repellent for pets, always consult a veterinarian for proper dilution and application methods.


Both oils are great for skincare and have somewhat similar earthy fragrances. Both can heal and soothe the skin and fight different symptoms of skin conditions. Cedarwood is insecticidal, whereas sandalwood oil is used for spiritual purposes.

Sandalwood oil is slightly sweet as compared to cedarwood essential oil. These oils also form part of aphrodisiac oils.

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