What Does Sandalwood Smell Like?

Sandalwood is often considered one of the finest fragrances in aromatherapy, and it has been used for thousands of years for its deep, lucious aromas.

The smell of Sandalwood depends on its origin; the trees are indigenous to South Asia – mainly India, Sri Lanka, Southern China, Nepal, and Indonesia. The trees also grow in Australia, Hawaii, and some South Pacific islands.

Sandalwood from the Mysore region of India is the most treasured throughout the world.

The dryer and poorer the soil the tree grows in, the better the aroma of its heartwood.

Sandalwood trees are also semi-parasitic, taking some of their nutrients from the roots of nearby grasses, bushes, and trees, thereby absorbing characteristics of local soils and plants.

As a result, there are many different types of sandalwood scents.

In addition, heating raw heartwoods will smell different than diffusing essential oils.

The heartwoods would release most if not all of the oils and molecules within the wood.

In contrast, Sandalwood essential oils have a slightly different aroma because many molecules got destroyed from the heat of the distillation process.

They’ll also smell vastly different because they’re so highly concentrated.

sandalwood oil from Amrita Aromatherapy

Sandalwood Oil

Tamil Nadu, India
steam distilled
Amrita Aromatherapy

The best way to describe how Sandalwood smells is to look at its traditional uses.

In Ayurvedic medicine, Sandalwood has been used for thousands of years as a sedative and anti-depressant.

In aromatherapy, it’s well known for being a relaxing yet uplifting scent that can be used by anyone who desires a more calming influence in their lives.

It usually has a positive effect on people suffering from stress or depression.


How would you describe the smell of Sandalwood?

The aroma of Sandalwood has been described as exotic, woody, earthy, floral, deep, slightly balsamic, and sweet.

It can be a bit smokey in a dark, mysterious way and slightly spicy in a rich, deep, seductive way.

It’s a warming, comforting, and sensuous aroma described as sweet, woody, and smooth.

Is Sandalwood a feminine scent?

Or is it a masculine scent?

It isn’t easy to describe whether Sandalwood is more of a feminine or masculine scent.

It’s one of those rare exotic, sensual scents that both women and men enjoy wearing on themselves as well as smelling on the opposite sex.

People believe Sandalwood has feminine connotations because it was traditionally used in India by women following their wedding ceremonies; this ritual continues today, although different cultures have introduced western perfumes for brides instead.

For more its history, uses, recipes, and what it mixes well with, see our Sandalwood Monograph.

You’ll also find links there to pure India Sandalwood essential oils, incense, and raw woods.

Coming soon – our reviews video and post of rating the top sandalwood incense sticks!

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Mark has spent over two decades immersed in the world of natural aromatics. His first experience of Agarwood incense at a Zen center meditation class changed his life forever. He imported and traded aromatics for several years before selling that business. He now simply enjoys enriching his life with nature's aromatics and freely sharing what he knows so others may get to enjoy them also.
Mark Ambrose
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