We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is Agarwood?

By S. Mithra
Updated Jun 04, 2024
Our promise to you
All Things Nature is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At All Things Nature, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Agarwood forms as a resinous substance deep inside some kinds of trees from Southeast Asia. Many cultures prize agarwood, which isn't wood at all, as incense and perfume oil to use during religious ceremonies at temples and mosques. Excessive harvest of agarwood from supposedly protected forests has made the resin rare as well as endangered many species of host trees.

Also known as aloeswood, heartwood, or eaglewood, agarwood resembles amber resin. It is sticky and malleable, but not naturally produced by trees like most kinds of sap. It only forms within a small percentage of trees from the Aquilaria family, called thymelaeceae, that used to grow across the temperate and rainforests in Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, India, and Vietnam. These tropical trees actually grow very quickly in poor soil, so long as they have enough water.

Unfortunately, the trees aren't valued for their prolific lumber, but rather the anomalous substance of agarwood that seems to arise as a result of an infection or genetic mutation. Sadly, one cannot tell which trees might yield a hefty harvest of agarwood until they are felled and split open. Foresight may have allowed them to be monitored as a renewable resource, yet over-harvesting has all but eliminated the Aquilaria trees in most countries. Repopulation at this point is probably not tenable.

Agarwood, mostly from Vietnam, exported to other countries might find itself being burned as a medicinal smoke, wrapped with prayer shawls to scent them, or pressed to extract the potent oil. Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese Medicine value the smoke as healing because it rebalances chi. In Korea the "kanam" gets burned for the black smoke, just like the "kanankoh" in Japan.

Holy places of Islam, Shintoism, and Buddhism use distilled agarwood oil as temple offerings and incense. The lauded smell from the "wood of the Gods" can be placed on altars as well as dotted on skin to bring out the rich scent. Even soaps and perfumes have incorporated agarwood's distinctive aroma.

All Things Nature is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By SarahGen — On Oct 29, 2014

Agarwood is rare because it only forms in trees that have a parasitic mold. The tree produces the resin to fight the infection.

Technically trees from this family could be grown and intentionally infected with this parasite so that they produce agarwood. Maybe it's being done already, I'm not sure. But there is no reason why anyone should go around cutting these tropical trees. That's a hit or miss and a waste a lot of trees. But if the trees are grown specifically for this purpose, agarwood won't be so rare.

By SteamLouis — On Oct 28, 2014

@bear78-- Yes, you're absolutely right. Agarwood is said to be the most expensive wood. It's not really wood, but you know what I mean. So both agarwood incense and agarwood oil are fairly expensive.

The fact that the tree has almost been wiped out also makes the agarwood even rarer and more expensive. I personally feel that we should avoid buying agarwood products because pretty soon, this resin will not be available at all. These trees need to replenish themselves and that is not going to happen as long as agarwood remains a popular and sought after resin. We just need to leave these trees alone.

By bear78 — On Oct 28, 2014

I knew "agarwood" sounded familiar. The Hindi name for incense is "agarbatti." I'm assuming that's the Hindi version of "agarwood" because incense was traditionally made from this resin. But I don't think that agarbatti today contains any agarwood. I have been using agarbatti at home for years. It's imported from India but very affordable. I'm sure if it was made with agarwood, it would be more costly.

By Diwrecktor — On Oct 27, 2014

You can use agarwood oil to help you sleep. I have trouble with insomnia and ordered some agarwood essential oil to use in an oil warmer. It seems to help me relax me, so I can get a deeper, more restful sleep.

I also read it is a strong aphrodisiac, but haven't tried it for that purpose.

All Things Nature, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

All Things Nature, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.