Cedar vs. Cedar

1. Cedarwood oil from the biblical times is Cedrus libani (fam. Pinaceae). The comparable Cedarwood oil from our times in Morocco is Cedrus libani ssp. atlantica Manetti (fam. Pinaceae) with 3-5% essential oil containing atlantone and floral fruity sesquiterpene alcohols. Its uses include: arterial regenerative-ap, fluid retention, cellulite and edema-ap/applied externally, skin and hair care-ap. Can be used in perfumery.
2. "Cedarwood" oil from Mexico and Texas is Juniperus mexicana (Fam. Cupressaceae) with thujopsene and cedrene. "Cedarwood" oil from China is Thujopsis dolabrata or Hiba oil and is a major commercial source of thujopsene, thujopsone. These two "cedarwoods" are used as a commercial source of thujone and hinokitol, as an antifungal spray on woods. What is left over is used to scent soaps. Two very different applications.

Do not mix these two types of Cedarwood.

The biblical Cedarwood, used for building temples and ships, originated in Lebanon and is the tree Cedrus libani. These trees are numbered and rare.

Today, "Cedarwood" is mainly produced in Texas (ca. 1400 tons). Additional amounts come from Virginia and China. US "Cedarwoods" are about 1/2 tricyclic sesquiterpenes (cedrene) and thujopsene, and as little as 15% cedrol. Cedrol is considered to be a major odoring component of "Cedarwood" oil. It is a sesquiterpene alcohol, originally called 'Cedar camphor', when it was isolated 100 years ago.

These are two very different types of plants, that are often confused in aromatherapy texts as well as scientific texts. Learn to define the odor with your new odor vocabulary and you will not be confused.

-- Excerpted from Scent and Fragrances, by Gunther Ohloff, and The Essential Oils, by Ernest Guenther, with notes from Jeanne Rose's 375 Essential Oils and Hydrosols.

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