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Oud Oils and Perfumes FAQs

What is Oud?
Why is Oud so expensive?
How is Oud Oil produced?
How different are Ouds from different region?
What is the difference between Oud and “Mukhallats”?
Can Oud be mixed with other fragrances?
Will Oud itself be over bearing?
Which oud has the best scent?
Is Oud gender specific?
How long will the scent last?
When should we use oud oil?
How to apply Oud Oil?
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What is Oud?

Oud oil is little known in the West, but it has a high commercial value in Japan, other countries in Asia and in the Arab world. It is the aloes or aloewood mentioned in the Bible and Quran, and both the oil and the wood from the trees of the Aquilaria species of tree, which have been used for millennia in religious and cultural ceremonies, in medicine and an aphrodisiac.

There are few natural aromatics that have as complex a scent spectrum as Oud. Natural ambergris, musk and rose also rank as some of the most valuable natural fragrances, but none come close to oud in the sheer transcendence and sublimity its fragrance boasts.

More than just a scent, oud can be mentally and spiritually engaging. In fact, specimens from different regions also seem to have an effect on a person’s emotions. Indonesian oils induce joy and frivolity, while Indian oils have a deeply pacifying quality which makes them popular for use with meditation.

Why is Oud so expensive?


It used to take three hundred years to obtain oud oil from the agarwood trees as the trees have to be infected by a fungus, Phaeoacremonium parasitica to produce the resinous substance from which the oil is made. The trees resist the attack in their heartwood an d produce a dark aromatic resin which is the base for the oil. Although, the oil can be produced using sustainable methods, thanks to the University of Minnesota’s Professor Robert Blanchette, the efforts to create a synthetic agarwood oil have proven even more difficult and expensive than harvesting the real thing.

It is said that pure Oud experience is only for the person who has everything. Good quality pure oud oils sell for more than US$60,000 a kg, many times more than gold and silvers. It’s so potent that a miniscule drop of the oil will release its fragrance for around 8 hours and its scent can be felt even for months in a secluded space.

How is Oud Oil produced?

After the highest grades of wood have been put aside to be sold as incense chips, the remaining agarwood is used for distilling oud oil. But there's more to it than just boiling heaps of wood.

The wood is chopped up into small pieces for distillation, and the dust produced from polishing and finishing the incense grade chips is also collected. The wood is commonly soaked in barrels of water for some time to make it easier for the oil to come out when heated.

After the soaking process is over, the wood is placed in large stills and has to be cooked at just the right temperature/pressure.

Using the traditional Indian hydro-distillation method, the wood is cooked for several days. The best quality oil comes out first, usually in the first 1-3 days of cooking. This is often referred to as the 'first distillation'. After this, the wood is cooked further and the second grade of oud is extracted.

Since hydro-distillation is more time and resource consuming, some distillers prefer to use steam distillation.

Steam distillation entails cooking the oil under gauged pressure using steam instead of boiling water. Oil can be extracted using this technique in as little as one day. However, setting too high a pressure can result in the precious top notes of the oil's scent acquiring a burnt tar note, so this too takes practice and experience.

While the traditional hydro-distillation method is commonly used in India, Thailand and Cambodia, steam-distillation is most common in Indonesia, but is also used in Thailand and elsewhere.

After the oil has been distilled, it is filtered, sunned, and aged for a while. The more the oil is aged, the better it will smell.

How different are Ouds from different region?

Far East

Including Brunei, parts of Malaysia, and Indonesia, this is the oud lover's paradise.

Far Eastern ouds of the Aquilaria Malaccensis species are predominantly resinous-woody in nature, with hints of fruity or floral notes. However, other species have very different characters including deep woody, incense-y and herbal. Far Eastern ouds are generally uplifting and elating, light and pleasing to most.


India is the home of the classic oud, Aquilaria Agallocha. Famed from Biblical times, Indian oud has not only been used for its scenting quality, but also in traditional medicine.

Indian oud oils are characterized by a pronounced sweet leather opening note, which evolves into a rich, spicy, and sweet woody smell. Oud oils of Indian origin have a grounding effect, and are soothing and calming.


Indochinese ouds are primarily of the Aquilaria Crassna species. Its typical scent spectrum includes notes like fruity, tobacco, pine, smoky and woody.

However, there is no 'classical' Indochinese oud smell, as the Crassna species includes fragrances that are tranquilizing much like the Indian variety, but also those that are sharp and zesty. High quality specimens are rather rare.

What is the difference between Oud and “Mukhallats”?

A Mukhallat is usually a mixture of pure oils such as Dehn Al Oudh, Rose, Musk, Sandalwood, Amber, and other natural flower oils that are combined to create a perfume oil. In contrast to the above, with regard to its composition, pure oud oil is itself the fragrance, not being blended with any other ingredients.

While many good quality Mukhallats can be just as heavenly, oud is more than just a scent as it engages the one wearing it on many different levels.

Can Oud be mixed with other fragrances?


If one is new to Oud, one might find that it is better blended with a cologne or Mukhallat because oud itself has a very powerful smell. Mixing it with another oils will tone down the sometimes over bearing oud scents.

However, once a new user gets more and more accustomed and addicted to the fragrance of pure oud, one might become more reluctant to mix it with anything else. And that is, in fact, giving oud its due right!

Will Oud itself be over bearing?

It's true that oud has one of, if not, the most powerful smell in the world of perfumery. But it is usually the initial hit after application and smelling it right out of the bottle that can be overwhelming for the unexperienced nose. That is why, we strongly recommend starting off by applying very tiny amounts, and not smelling the oils directly.

Over time, as our nose gets used to the smell, we will find the smell of oud an absolute delight in its entirety, from application to the dry down.

Which oud has the best scent?

The climates the trees were grown in, the age of the trees, the distillation and aging techniques all have an effect on the smell of different ouds. Oud from different regions has distinctly different scents too.

Many people absolutely love the earthy, barnyard and slightly fecal quality of Hindi (Indian) ouds, while others are all for the sweeter, more ethereal Indonesian specimens.

Ultimately, one may find that one like ouds from all the regions since they all have something unique to offer, even if they all vastly differ in their characters and scent profiles.

Is Oud gender specific?

Absolutely not.

In the Gulf countries of the Middle East, where oud oil is most celebrated and used, men use oud for special occasions, parties and things of that sort. In Yemen, a gift of oud is an expected part of the dowry that the bride receives from the groom.

Oud is more than just a 'scent', which could be classified as masculine and feminine.

Rather, it has so much more to offer, and gender requisite is not a condition to be able to enjoy the offerings of this precious gift of nature.

How long will the scent last?

Different oud oils have different scent lives on the skin. Sometimes, ouds that are of very high quality whose smell will fade before that of much lower grade specimens. The same oil, however, might be incredibly long-lasting if applied to clothes, bracelets, beads etc.

In general, every oud oils, if applied, should be discernable to our nose for a good 2 - 3 hours. After that, our nose may get used to the scent, but those around us will still be able to smell it for hours to come.

When should we use oud oil?

We may initially find that we just want to use oud for special occasions.

However, as is usually the case, we may find ourselves loving oud so much that we will want to use it daily. In fact, some people even use it several times a day because they can't get enough of it.

How to apply Oud Oil?

There are two main reasons for wearing oud - for one’s personal enjoyment, and for others.

It is an absolute delight studying the evolution of the complex smell of oud on your skin for hours, for your own enjoyment. Many varieties of oud evoke olfactory memories and it can be fun identifying them as the oil develops on your skin.

For one’s personal enjoyment, it is recommended to apply the oil to one’s outer forearm, 2 – 3 inches above the wrist. Even the tiniest amount will be sufficient. This is then gently dabbed below the jaw line.

Needless to say, oud oil is so potent that even this tiny amount you apply can scent the entire room you are in.

It is important that you do not rub too hard. There should be a sheen remaining on your arm, after applying to the neck. Your skin is highly absorbent, so rubbing will make the oil (and the scent) disappear much faster. It can also damage the scent molecules.

Moisturizing your skin will also ensure that the smell lasts longer.

For the ultimate ‘broadcasting’ effect, there are two ways to use the oil:

  1. Applying to your clothes, bracelet, or other item
    This will give you the longest lasting smell as the oil will not be absorbed by the skin. For clothes, it is best to apply a bit to the shoulders, and some to the chest and back of your shirt.

  2. Applying to the skin
    While this will not last nearly as long, in most cases the smell will be much more appealing due to the unique chemistry between the skin and oud. Apply the oil just below your outer wrist, then dab (not rub) it onto your neck. Once again, remember to keep a sheen remaining so don’t rub too hard!

About 1 – 2 light swipes of the dip stick should be used if you want to share the beautiful smell of oud with those around you.

Don’t forget that others might not be accustomed to the smell of oud like you! So do not over apply, even if you yourself can’t detect too strong a smell. Remember that one’s own nose gets quickly accustomed to the scent due to olfactory fatigue. It’s usually a good idea after applying oud that you wait about 15 minutes before meeting someone.

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We hope we have answered some of your basic questions regarding oud oil. May you have a pleasant informative oud journey as Pods & Petals Giftlab embarks on offering more Oud Gift choices to our product selections


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