Why Is Sandalwood So Expensive? (Top 9 Reasons Explained) 

Sandalwood is comparatively rare and is the second most expensive wood in the world after African blackwood.

It is a kind of wood that is generated from trees in the genus Santalum.

Specifically, the Sandalwood tree is native to India and Indonesia.

Sandalwood is not like other aromatic woods because it retains its fragrance for decades by its many-sided usages not only in traditional medicines, cosmetics, perfumes, and soaps but also in religious rituals of different religions.

Well, it is a significant matter to mention that Sandalwood is outrageously expensive.

Analyzing so many factors, it is found that there are multiple reasons for the high prices of Sandalwood.

However, in this article, the reasons are explained.

Why is sandalwood so expensive?

Among numerous reasons, the main issues are discussed below.

They are mostly influential reasons that make Sandalwood highly expensive.



The first and foremost thing that raises the price exorbitantly is the rarity.

The demand for this multifaceted useful thing has been increasing rapidly while the production of Sandalwood has decreased.

This imbalance in production, supply, and demand is the main reason for skyrocketing prices of Sandalwood.

From 1900 to 1990, the increasing range was 365 Rs/ton to 78000 Rs/ton.

According to a report, in 2021 the price per KG Mysore Indian Sandalwood is 26,500 Rs.

Thus, there seems to be a scarcity in the wood.


Time consuming

Then, the slow growing process of production makes Sandalwood so expensive.

It is seen that an Indian Sandalwood tree needs a minimum of 15 years old to take the required fragrance oils.

Generally, the output of oils depends on the age and location of the tree.

The older trees produce the highest quality oils.

Moreover, it is so expensive to cultivate, take care and protect the woods from smuggling for a long time.

As a result, this time consuming process plays a fundamental role in making the wood superfluous.



Another great factor is the inadequacy of Sandalwood.

According to a report, mature Sandalwood trees weigh around 100kg which produces 20kg of aromatic heartwood and these mature trees produce only 600-700ml of essential oil.

Therefore, it is insufficient in contrast to the demands.

For this rareness, the price of this wood and oil is so high. 



The Indian authority’s recent steps to stop the illegal trade in Sandalwood is another reason for the resulting high prices.

In recent years, the Government took some productive steps to prevent smuggling and illegal exporting of Sandalwood.

However, the production of Sandalwood is legal in India but plantation activities are undertaken by the government.

Hence, the authorities control the cutting of Sandalwood.

As a result, the price goes up. 



The Sandalwood tree grows well in particular types of land all over the world where it needs very little water especially in loam and sandy soil which results in high prices.

Sandalwood is produced well in South Indian soil especially in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

Although India used to be the world’s biggest producer of Sandalwood, in the 21st century it has been overtaken by Australia.

That is why Sandalwood faces some challenges at now.

Consequently, it claims an extravagant price. 


Utility and multi purpose use

The multipurpose usage of Sandalwood is another cause that makes it so valuable.

The essential oil of Indian Sandal sells at good prices.

Red Sandal is famous for its wood; it is also used as traditional medicine for the treatment of dysentery, bleeding, as an anti-inflammatory and antipyretic.

White Sandal is used as wood and oil extract.

It also has medicinal values as it is used for the treatment of bronchitis, fever, common cold, headache, and urinary infections.

Again, Malyagiri Sandal is used for making furniture.

Therefore, these manifold benefits of Sandalwood are admired by consumers.

And over time, its popularity is growing widely.

For this reason, the price is also becoming hefty. 

High demand


The demand for Sandalwood is just incredible.

According to a report, published in Deccan Herald in 2019, the current demand for sandalwood hovers around 6,000 to 7,000 metric tonnes per year.

From them, India currently produces about 200 tons per year and 400 tons by other nations which means a shortfall of nearly 5,400 tons.

Hence, the huge gap between supply and demand makes it so desirable.

As a result, the cost of Sandalwood is impressively expensive.

Religious faith


Sandalwood is widely used in various sacred religious rituals which makes it immeasurably worthwhile.

It has great instinct in Vedic books for its pure sacredness.

In rituals, it is used to purify divine bodies.

Hindu believe Sandalwood oil works in the recovery of three Dosha of the body.

In Hinduism, wood is used for worshiping the god Shiva.

It is also used in Buddhism, Jainism, Sufism, and East Asian religions for religious ceremonies and rituals.

Overall, the value of Sandalwood in religious cases is quite invaluable.

On account of this, it is adorable to the pious people.

Eventually, it has become highly superfluous for its great value. 



In the past, West Indian and African Sandalwood have also been produced but they are no longer widely available now.

All of them are going to be destroyed due to fulfilling huge market demands.

Now, this valuable fragrant wood is found in a few parts of the world like India, Nepal, Australia, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Pakistan, Hawaii, and other Pacific Islands which is not enough in the demand of customers.

This unavailability of Sandalwood is another factor that draws it to be expensive.

Frequently Ask Questions

Is Sandalwood the most expensive wood?

most expensive

As I Said earlier Sandalwood is the second most expensive wood in the world.

The first one is African Blackwood which is mostly used in musical instruments.

Both of them are rare and near-threatened which makes them so expensive.

How much is Sandalwood worth?

Why expensive, how to save money

Sandalwood has a remarkable high value which can be different according to types and quality and different market segments and regions.

It varies from Rs. 6,000 to Rs 16,000.

Due to restrictions, currently, the red Sandalwood price ranges from Rs. 65,000/kg to Rs. 1.5 lakh/kg.

Which Sandalwood is more expensive?

confuse, how to tell, asking, question

Though Sandalwood has so many varieties, white and red Sandalwood are mostly cultivated.

Indian Santalum album or white sandalwood is more expensive in the world.

It has a great market range for its fragrance, medicinal quality, and religious sacredness.

Why is red sandalwood expensive?

red sandalwood expensive

Pterocarpus Santalinus or Red sandalwood is mainly found in the Seshachalam hills of Andhra Pradesh.

Due to smuggling, historical value, slow growth, rarity, furnishing, and medicinal usages, Red Sandalwood is expensive.

It has huge demand in China, Japan, Myanmar, and other countries in East Asia. 

Which sandalwood is more expensive, red or white?

What, asking anything, reason

As I hinted earlier both white and red sandalwood have high market value.

White sandalwood has more demand in international trade markets.

Along with other usages essential oil is produced from white sandalwood.

So, white sandalwood is more expensive than red sandalwood.

Which is more expensive, agarwood or Sandalwood?

Agarwood is much more expensive and rarer while Sandalwood is much more common.

Both of them have huge religious impacts.

King Grade Agarwood can cost up to $100,000 and the prices of Sandalwood were indicated earlier.

Why is Indian Sandalwood so expensive?

Indian Sandalwood so expensive

Indian Sandalwood is more expensive because of its sparseness, unique quality in producing essential oil than Australian Sandalwood.

Though both of them belong to the Santalum genus they have differences in plant theory, production methods, and market distributions.

Australian oil presently sells around $1,500/kg and Indian oil costs nearly $2,500. 

Why is sandalwood oil so expensive?

sandalwood oil so expensive

In international markets, Sandalwood oil has huge demand because of its creamy, tenderness, long-lasting flavor, and use in Ayurvedic medicine but the amount of this oil from a tree is very little.

Moreover, the rarity of Sandalwood and time-devouring makes it more expensive.

Its per ounce cost around $492.

Is Sandalwood powder expensive?

Sandalwood powder expensive

Sandalwood powder has been used for a long time for skincare in cosmetics.

It has an excellent result for the treatment of pimples, it reduces the scars and softens the skin, it also can save skin from thorny heat.

White Sandalwood is readily available while red Sandalwood powder is less common.

So, Sandalwood powder is also expensive but it is reachable to common people.

Final thoughts

As I mentioned earlier, Sandalwood is one of the most expensive woods in the world for several reasons.

With less production and supply its high demand in international trades for its many-faced uses makes it so costly.

In addition to furnishings and rituals, its oil and powder are used for health and skincare.

Research suggests that Sandalwood is anti-inflammatory, it works against liver and muscle problems and reduces mental disorders, protects against skin cancer, and fights against bacteria.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature listed it as “vulnerable” for its overharvesting and extreme demand.

All in all, its invaluable features have made it highly desirable, and so, expensive.

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