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Guaiacwood, Oudh, Agarwood...i'm confused...


Funky fresh
Basenotes Plus
Mar 16, 2006
Is there a difference between these three? I know there have been endless threads about these; sometimes they're mentioned like synonyms, and sometimes alone. Are they related, or do they just happen to smell similiar? Maybe they are different names for the same wood? Please clarify.


New member
Jun 12, 2005
From Wikipedia:

Agarwood is known under many names in different cultures:
  • It is known as Chén-xīang (沉香) in Chinese and Jin-koh (沈香) in Japanese, both meaning "Sinking Incense" and alluding to its high density.
  • Both agarwood and its resin distillate/extracts are known as Oud in Arabic (literally wood) and used to describe agarwood in nations and areas of Islamic faith. Western perfumers may also use agarwood essential oil under the name "oud" or "oude".
  • In Europe it went by the name of Lignum aquila, or eagle-wood, presumably because of its appearance.
  • Another name is Lignum aloes or Aloeswood. This is potentially confusing, since a genus Aloe exists (unrelated), which also has its uses, as in the "aloe" brought by Nicodemus to embalm the body of Jesus (John 19:39) which was from the genus Aloë. However, the Aloes of the Old Testament (Num. 24:6; Ps. 45:8; Prov. 7:17; and Cant. 4:14) and of the Hebrew Bible (ahalim in Hebrew) is believed to be eaglewood from Aquilaria agallocha.
  • The Indonesian name is "gaharu".
  • In Vietnamese, it is known as trầm hương.


New member
Jul 25, 2003
Agarwood and Oudh (also spelled oud or aoud) are the same plant - Aqullaria Agallocha is the Latin name. It has a peculiar scent - reminiscent of sandalwood, but also medicinal and musty and strangely sweet and deep as well as somewhat sour and fresh at the same time. It's a complex scent and different types of agarwood vary grately.

Guiacwood is a different species (Bulnesia Sarmienti) and smells nothing like Agarwood. It has a rosy, honeyed-sweet and slightly smoky and waxy-oily slightly rubbery aroma. It is used often in tobacco scents.


Well-known member
Aug 16, 2010
Yes, that's right - although there are many different smelling Oud (Agarwood) variants.


Well-known member
May 2, 2013
I'm curious...are all these wood notes in modern perfumery synthetic or natural.
So many wood notes listed as coming from all these rare trees from far away places...


Well-known member
Aug 16, 2010
There are woody naturals, nature-identicals and there are aromachemicals that have nothing to do with naturally occuring plants but are smelling like some woods.

A popular example for an frequently used natural essential oil would be "cedar" (which could be several different types of woody smelling oils of the Cedrus or the Juniperus families).

In some cases there are naturals but they are not available in large enough quantities, protected by law, containing allergens or are just too expensive so the industry tries to recreate them synthetically. Famous examples would be sandal mysore and oud.

The industry also tries to disassemble naturals (which are actually complex combinations of smells) and isolate certain molecules (like Patchoulol from Patchouli) from it. These can be synthetisized and / or be used for the creations of new creations.

Some materials just don't lend themselves to be used for extraction of their scents so the industry tries to whip something up synthetically that approximates their smell by using blends of synthetic aromachemicals and/or naturals to create the illusion of their smell.

Similarly, perfumers can use the whole range of this palette of choices consisting of natural ingredients (essential oils, absolutes etc.), isolates and fully synthetic aromachemicals - all portraying different aspects of the same wood note.
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