What Is Oud Fragrance and Why Is It So Expensive?
Oud fragrance is a popular luxury scent used in perfumes and candles of all sorts. Its intoxicating aroma will have you coming back for more. You may be surprised to learn that it’s one of the more expensive ingredients in the world and can trace its origins back to ancient times.
The Opulence of Oud Fragrance
Oud, or agarwood, is a rare, luxurious scent that has captivated perfumers for thousands of years. It’s highly sought after and very expensive. The unique scent is described as warm and alluring and is almost impossible to replicate.
The Scent of Oud
The scent of oud is warm and sweet with notes of balsamic and wood. It is a comforting and complex scent that lingers for a long time. When added to perfume, it works best as the base because it will stay on your skin even after the other components of the scent have dissipated.
Due to its long history, oud fragrance is associated with many different religious and spiritual benefits. Certain religions use the scent of agarwood to carry their prayers. It is often used during meditation and can bring clarity and focus to the mind. Many believe that scenting a home with oud will remove negative energy and promote harmony.
The Value of Oud on the Market
Believe it or not, oud fragrance commonly goes for $5,000 per pound on the market. Depending on its purity, you can even find specialty oud for up to $30,000 per kilogram. In many instances, oud has a higher value than gold.
You can find a small, 3-gram bottle of ultra-pure oud for around $300. It’s extremely pungent, so only a tiny bit is necessary for any type of application. That amount should last you for at least a year if you use it correctly.
Synthetic, plantation, or diluted oud can be more reasonably priced. However, you get what you pay for with this fragrance. Experienced oud smellers can easily tell the difference. The scent won’t be as musky or warm, something that’s hard to replicate. However, it does make oud more accessible to the masses.
The Process of Oud Extraction
Part of what drives the value of oud fragrance is its scarcity in the wild and the difficulty of processing it. Due to its popularity, some of the extraction methods are changing.
The Agar Tree
Trees of the aquilaria species, colloquially known as agar trees, grow in Southeast Asia, India, and Bangladesh. The bark and wood of the agar tree are popular for incense and religious rituals throughout Asia and the Middle East. Some regional terms for the tree are eaglewood, aloeswood, qaharu, and gaharu.
Oud is derived from resin found in the heartwood of the agar tree. The tree only produces this specific resin as a defense against a specific type of parasitic mold. This makes oud fragrance very rare. It’s possible to inoculate commercial agar trees with mold, but it is a lengthy and challenging process.
As you can imagine, it’s hard to find this resin in the wild. On average, only 2% of agar trees contain this mold. You are more likely to see it in older trees, which are now considered an endangered species due to a boom in the industry.
The Essential Oil
Once a likely tree is identified, it needs to be cut down so the resin can be extracted. The resin is found deep in the wood in the center of the trunk. A long process of blending, squeezing, and soaking eventually distills this precious material from the tree. Oud essential oil is also called agarwood.
The commercial success of oud has brought out a lot of sub-par distillation practices, such as fermenting the wood to get the most oil possible out of it. This has flooded the market with oud that doesn’t smell quite right. Be careful where you get your oud fragrance from to avoid this.
The History of Oud in the Fragrance Industry
Oud fragrance has been used throughout Asia and the Middle East for thousands of years. In recent decades, love for oud as a scent has made its way through the rest of the world. How did this come about?
The Ancient World
Dating back to the third century A.D. there are records of the extraction process and export of agarwood from central Vietnam to China and Japan. Ancient Chinese members of royalty were buried in coffins made out of agarwood. Oud is also included in the practice of feng shui.
References to agarwood are peppered throughout old religious texts of Islam, Buddhism, and Judaism. The Prophet Muhammad details a ritual fumigation process using agarwood. King Solomon was described as being scented with oud during processions. The tradition of using agarwood to smell good has long been established.
Back in the 1980s, oud fragrance found popularity in the western world. Many luxury brands of perfume started to include oud as a base note and found marketing success in the boutique hotel business. Currently, oud is well-known as a luxury fragrance worldwide.
Certain brands are making oud more accessible than ever. Oud fragrance is an excellent addition to candles, which makes the best use of a small amount. There’s no better way to diffuse the scent throughout your home in a stylish way.
Oud Fragrance in Your Home
At Nomad Noé, we are creating beautiful luxury candles that burn clean. Our oud fragrance oils are crafted in the world's perfume capital: Grasse, France. Hand-poured into a stylish porcelain vessel, our candles bring opulence to your home in more ways than one. Reach out to learn more and browse our selection.