Shaman Australis Botanicals
Safrole C10 H10O2 [94-59-7] MW 162.18
There are two important sassafras oils of commerce: Brazilian sassafras oil, obtained from the trunkwood of Ocotea pretiosa, and Chinese sassafras oil from Cinnamomum camphora. Both contain 80 percent or more of safrole.True sassafras oil, from the roots of North American Sassafras albidum, is no longer produced in large commercial quantities, but is still available in the retail market. It was traditionally used for flavouring rootbeer, but this is now prohibited because of fears of health risks associated with consumption of safrole.
Safrole is converted by the chemical industry into two important derivatives: heliotropin, which is widely used as a fragrance and flavouring agent, and piperonal butoxide (PBO), a vital ingredient of pyrethroid insecticides. Natural pyrethrum in particular would not be an economical insecticide without the addition of PBO as a synergist. Demand for sassafras oil is estimated to be around 2,000 tonnes annually. Up until the 1960s, Brazil was the major exporter of sassafras oil. Production has declined since then as a result of depletion of the natural resource from which it is obtained, wild Ocotea pretiosa in the Mata Atlantica areas of southern Brazil. Restrictions imposed on the felling of the trees in the late 1980s have resulted in a further decline in production. More than half the sassafras oil currently entering world trade originates from the People's Republic of China. Trees are felled and cut into suitably sized logs for transportation to the distillery. There they are chipped and reduced further in size before being placed in the distillation vessels. Steam is raised by burning waste and spent wood. Future potential sources of commercial safrol may include Piper hispidinervium and Piper auritum, both of which yield a high quality oil. Safrole is a volatile in steam and is thus extracted by steam distillation.
Several Australian native species contain safrole, but not much research has been done to confirm percentages and yields. The following species appear promising: Eremophila longifolia, Atherosperma moschatum, Cinnamomum spp., Doryphora aromatica and Doryphora sassafras.
Disclaimer: All seed is sold for botanical preservation purposes only. All parts of plants can be toxic and should not be ingested.