It has a soft, woody and "pencil-like" smell and has a faint undertone of sandalwood. It is pale yellow to light orange in color and is viscous.
The tree is native to North America and grows up to 30 meters (100 feet) and ages up to 1,000 years. This is the tree Solomon used to build the Temple in Jerusalem. Cedrus libani or Lebanon cedar, from which the first essential oil was extracted, is very scarce due to over use.
The Egyptians used the oil in the mummification process, in cosmetics and as a insect repellant, while native Americans used Cedar oil in medicine and burnt it for purification. These days the wood is often used in the making of pencils and boxes.
Wood chips and sawdust are subjected to steam distillation to extract the oil and the yield is about 35 %.
The main chemical components of cedarwood oil are a-cedrene, b-cedrene, thujopsene, other sesquiterpenes, cedrol and widdrol.
In high concentration, cedarwood oil may irritate the skin and it should be avoided in pregnancy.
The therapeutic properties of cedarwood oil are antiseborrhoeic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, tonic, astringent, diuretic, emmenagogue, expectorant, insecticide, sedative and fungicide.
Cedarwood oil benefits the skin by its sedating ability which relieves itching. Its astringent action is great for acne, oily skin, as well as for hair and dandruff. It helps with chest and urinary infections, acts as a general tonic and has a pronounced effect on mucus membranes.
It has a calming and soothing effect on the mind and is of great help in conditions associated with anxiety and nervous tension. It is also of value in cases of arthritis and rheumatism.
Cedarwood oil's great benefit lies in its ability to calm and sooth nerves. It relieves skin and hair problems and is important in easing conditions of a respiratory nature. It also clears urinary infections, rheumatism and arthritis.
In vapor therapy, cedarwood oil can be used for arthritis, bronchitis, rheumatism, respiratory problems, as a general tonic and as an insect repellant.
Cedarwood can be used in a blended massage oil, or diluted in the bath to assist with asthma, bronchitis, respiratory problems, catarrh, cystitis, painful joints, oily skin and dandruff. Care must be taken that it does not cause irritation to the mucus membranes.
It blends well with benzoin, bergamot, cinnamon, cypress, frankincense, jasmine, juniper, lavender, lemon, neroli, rose and rosemary.