Bursera Graveolens (Palo Santo) Oil

Our palo santo essential oil is distilled from the wood of the palo santo tree (bursea graveolens) which is native to the dry tropical forests of Ecuador. Not to be confused with bulnesia sarmientoi (also called "palo santo") which is globally endangered and grows in Bolivia, Paraguay, and Argentina and whose wood resembles mahogany and is used to make furniture and other wood products. We do not use this. 

Palo santo has a beautiful and complex scent profile with notes of citrus, mint, and pine. The naturally occurring high amounts of the monoterpene, Limonene in palo santo support a healthy inflammatory response and soothe dry and flaky skin. Palo santo means "holy wood" and has many traditional and sacred uses in Ecuador and is still used by Shamans in the Andes and throughout the country; however, its most common use in Ecuador is in households to ward off mosquitos and other insects. It it also used for its healing abilities and to cleanse and purify spaces. 

We buy our palo santo oil from a small community in Puerto Lopez, Ecuador that has been collecting palo santo for generations. Unlike other trees, the palo santo tree is not cut down and doing so is illegal and our partners have never cut down a palo santo tree. A cut tree has no value - it does not contain enough resin nor does it have the same aroma. The tree must be old, dry and dead and then left alone for 4-10 years so that the resin in the wood can fully develop before essential oil distillation begins. Our partners collect/forage palo santo wood from dead fallen trees in the protected forest preserve of Manabí, Equador without damaging the surrounding area or making new paths in the forest. New palo santo saplings are planted in the dead trees stead and over 30,000 trees have been planted thus far over a 10 year period as the restoration and reforestation project continues. 

Climate change has impacted dry tropical forests and the way of life for those who live on its borders. Communities that relied on agriculture and raising farm animals for income have been severely impacted by drought and have been struggling to make ends meet as there has not been enough water to grow crops or raise animals for many years. With the demand for Palo Santo growing, these communities have been able to create income for their families by foraging dead palo santo wood. Demand for palo santo creates higher value for farmers to be part of protecting the forest and planting palo santo trees to sustain themselves and future generations within the protected forest preserve. 

Dry tropical forests have been and continue to be decimated - they are often logged and then used for cattle ranching, which is one of the reasons we work with  communities operating within the protected forest preserve. Experts at the IUCN say that demand for palo santo coupled with ethical foraging and cultivation is a positive for the species and its endangered habitat. 

We are honored to use this ingredient in our products and be part of the the protection and reforestation of the dry tropical forest. 

Plants are family. 

Offerings with Palo Santo