Sandalwood is the name for several fragrant woods. From the sanskrit candanam the name is borrowed as the greek sandanon. The local name in Indonesia and Malaysia is "Cendana". Sandalwood has been valued for thousands of years for its fragrance, carving, and various purported medicinal qualities. To produce commercially valuable sandalwood with high levels of fragrance oils, harvested santalum trees have to be at least 40 years of age, but 80 or above is preferred. However, inferior sandalwood produced from trees at 30 years old can still fetch a decent price due to the demand for real sandalwood.
Sandalwood essential oil provides perfumes with a striking wood base note. Sandalwood smells not unlike other wood scents, except it has a bright and fresh edge with few natural analogues. When used in smaller proportions in a perfume, it is an excellent fixative to enhance the head space of other fragrances. The oil from sandalwood is widely used in the cosmetic industry and is expensive. The true sandalwood is a protected species, and its demand cannot be met. Many species of plants are traded under the name of "sandalwood". Within the genus santalum alone, there are more than 19 varieties that can be called sandalwood.
Sandalwood is often used for rituals or ceremonies. It is used to create a bindu or tilak on both devotees within the temple and the temple deities themselves. A paste is made in order to do this, and is done so by taking pieces of the wood an hand grind them over roughly carved granite slabs especially designed for the purpose.