Thursday, October 23, 2008

Aloeswood ( Oudh )

This discussion over at Perfume Smellin Things is so informative , I want to share it here . Thanks Neal , whoever you are , for sharing :

NEAL: I have to wonder whether any of you have ever smelled pure aloeswood or the oil derived from it. It varies in fragrance from earthy to fungal to resinous to leathery to smoky to fruity to spicy to evergreen-ish.. with every possible combination of those elements, depending on its geographical source, age, quality, etc.. I currently have in my "stash" oudh (in oil form) from Cambodia (my favorite), India, Malaysia, and Burma. I have actual aloeswood (in wood form) from Cambodia and Vietnam. I also have some powdered aloeswood from Indonesia that I use when I make incense. It is also possible to buy the pure resin derived from the wood. Generally, the quality of aloeswood depends on the amount of resin that the wood contains. There is even a "fake aloeswood" being produced in China, which is a very, very low-quality aloeswood (or possibly other wood entirely!) that has been boiled in water and low-quality oudh (oil). The finest qualities of aloeswood (astronomically priced, too) will emit their fragrance without being burned or smoldered, but most aloeswood (also known as agarwood, by the way) must be committed to the flames before you can enjoy its beautiful scent.
One other thing. I don't want to take up too much space here, but there is some terminology in the world of fragrance which I think may confuse some people. I see many references to something called "incense". This term can apparently vary from perfumer to perfumer. Some, in general terms, would call spice and smoke "incense". The term "incense" has also been used to refer to aloeswood, which is sometimes called "incense wood". Of course, other woods are used for making incense. There is a wood which is powdered to use as a filler and binder in incense, called makko, which is sometimes also called "incense wood", especially in Japan. Naturally, sandalwood sometimes receives the same designation.

It is time for me to learn to appreciate Oudh , I hope to do a series of reviews if I can get some Montale samps to start with . Here's some more interesting facts about oudh ...

Oudh/Aloeswood oil is derived from an Agarwood tree that grows abundantly in Laos, but is found all over Southeast Asia. The highest quality Agarwood trees can be found in the former countries of Indochina, such as: Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. Also found in Assam , a province in India, where the best distillers in the world can be found. Agarwood/ Oud oil are products of infected species of trees, commonly being sought from Aquilaria and Gyrinops trees.
Agarwood comes in solid or liquid form. Solids are only solid at room temperature, and if warmed slightly, it turns liquid. It is an anti-asthmatic and can be applied directly to the skin as it is non-irritating. The oil is very tenacious and only the tiniest of drops is needed to fill the air with its soul evoking aroma. It is a complex aroma with many nuances, deep and ethereal. The aroma takes about 12 hours to unfold and it will last on the skin for more than a day, and if placed on any material, the scent can last for months. It can be used as a perfume, an aroma therapy and an essential oil or as an aid for the deepest meditation. It is believed that this fragrances will unlock the subconscious and allow you to go deep into your memories. The resin is also used in perfumery, Yves Saint Laurent and Amouage use Agarwood in their top perfumes as a base.
The Aquilaria tree grows up to 40 meters high and 60 centimeters in diameter. It bears sweetly-scented, snow-white flowers. These trees form resins that can then produce some of the highest quality oudh oils. Of the 11 species of Aquilaria trees (Its scientific name is Aquilara Malaccensis Lam. or Aquilaria agallocha), found in Cambodia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Southern China and Vietnam, it is thought that 4-6 of them can produce the highly acclaimed Oudh oil resin.
The trees frequently become infected with a parasite fungus or mold, Phialophora parasitica, and begin to produce an aromatic resin, in response to this attack. The results are achieved by allowing plenty of time for infection to take place, and preferably in the forest or other non-contrived settings. Eventually, this infection will cause the tree to die, and Agarwood resin can then be chipped away, in various grades of quality, and sold.
The fungus and decomposition process continue to generate a very rich and dark resin forming within the heartwood . Thus, Aloeswood develops very, very slowly over time-typically several HUNDRED YEARS or more to form. Hence, this is why it is so rare and valued as the most sacred oil on the planet (in addition to it's wonderful aroma)
The lesser quality Agarwood has a whitish color and contains less resin. They are graded, chopped, shredded, soaked, distilled, dried, and rolled into incense sticks. The uninfected Agarwood has no scented value. Oud oil has an eccentric, as well as, acquired fragrance. It is regarded as a very sophisticated and highly prized Oudh fragrance in the Arab world.

Oudh/Aloeswood Oil Around the World

Aloeswood/Oudh oil is slowly making an appearance in The West where the majority of people do not know about this natural gift of nature.
The Aloeswood oil termed as 'Oudh' in the Middle East is highly valued for its fragrance, it can go up to astonishingly high prices due to the level of demand that exists. It is worn on clothes and skin, mainly used by men during special occasions such as Eid and Friday prayers.
One of the most prized fragrance items in Oman is oudh, which is imported from Cambodia, India and Malaysia. It is a musky-smelling wood which may be burned or from which oil can be extracted. It is very expensive and only used on important occasions such as Eid, weddings, funerals and to celebrate the birth of a child. The oudh oil will often be given as part of a woman's dowry, together with gold and other gifts.
The wood is carved as settings for precious stones and Aloeswood is an excellent wood for sculptures and carvings In Japan, Aloeswood is used in a complex fragrance guessing game called koh-do, part of the ceremonial appreciation of incense adopted from the Chinese, who still use the expression wenxiang, "listening to the incense."
( ok , sorry to interrupt but this is what they were singing about ,
" everybody wenxiang (wang-chung) tonight " !!)
Japanese Shamans use Aloeswood Oils for its psychoactive properties. They believe enhances mental clarity and opens the third eye as well as all of the upper charkas
There are many stories about Aloeswood being buried under the ground for hundreds of years. This legend comes from an old Chinese book on incense. Aloeswood oil is prized in China for its psychoactive properties.
Used chiefly for Incense for the Mind - during meditation, Agarwood is highly psychoactive. It is used for spiritual journey, enlightenment, clarity and grounding. Buddhists use it for transmutation of ignorance . Tibetan monks use it to bring energy to the center and calm the mind and spirit. The Sufis use Agarwood oil in their esoteric ceremonies .

Practitioners Around the World
It is recommended by experienced practitioners for providing motivation and devotion to meditation. It is supposed to facilitate communication with the transcendent, refreshes the mind and body, drives away evil spirits, takes away exhaustion, removes impurities, expels negative energies, brings alertness, calms the nervous system, relieves anxiety, invokes a sense of strength and peace, creating natural order in your sacred living areas, enhances cerebral functioning, remedies nervous disorders such as neurosis, obsessive behaviour, etc., and it is a companion in solitude. Chinese, Tibetan, Ayurvedic and Unanai physicians have all used Agarwood in their practice to treat various diseases as well as mental illness.

Aloeswood Medicinal Uses
Stimulant, tonic, nausea, nerves, regurgitation, weakness in the elderly, aphrodisiac, diuretic, relieves epilepsy, antimicrobial, carminative (gas), smallpox, rheumatism, illness during and after childbirth, relieves spasms in digestive and respiratory systems, shortness of breath, chills, general pains, lowers fever, asthma, cancer, colic, digestive and bronchial complaints, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, cirrhosis of the liver and as a director or focuser for other medicines. It has also been used as a treatment for lung and stomach tumours.


Seven Mountains Ltd. Vietnam said...

Cultivated Agarwood in Vietnam;
feasible, profitable and patented with Bay Nui Company Ltd.

Bay Nui Co Ltd, or Seven Mountain company based in Ho Chi Minh City and An Giang Province has secured the intellectual property rights to the most efficient and best Cultivated Agarwood inducement technology. This USA developed technology has been recognized world-wide and was recently granted patent rights in Vietnam and in many other producing and consumer countries. Seven Mountains is so far the only company in Vietnam exporting logs, chips and other products with official CITES export permits from certified plantations. For more information on sales of inducement technology, technology sub-licensing and CA end product please see: and contact in Vietnam:

Ms. Nguyen T. Dung, Seven Mountain Co., Ltd
2/5 Yen The, Ward 2, Tan Binh District, HCMC
Tel: 84-8 3848 7621, Fax: 84-8 3848 7622

Anonymous said...

Great to see this information. Pure cultivated agarwood can be obtained from They sell high quality agarwood / aloeswood incense sticks and "raw" chips.

waftbyCarol said...

Thank you Henry for the info .
Anon-thanks too , I purchased a brand new fragrance from Trish McAvoy called Precios Oud , my first oudh fragrance .It is gorgeous and complex and lasts forever , reminds Nancy
( fishbone )and I of original Chaos !!

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