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August 29, 2020 10 min read

She thought she loved her Oud perfume.... until she tried the real Oud oil

Dear friend


Last week, a lady named JM asked me if I had any oud smell like a perfume that she tried: "X Oud" fragrance (you can replace the X with Royal, Pure, Dark, Black, Magic, Just … or any name)


She said, "Finally, I found 'my oud fragrance'. I love Oud so much." And she asked if I do have something like that for her.


"So is it the first time you have tried Oud fragrance?" - I asked.




"Have you ever tried Oud before?"




"You may not like Oud, and it could shock you. It might not what you expected".


"Really, why?" - JM asked.


I will list some reasons later in this article.


You see, JM might have seen some fragrance ads or read posts about some fragrances containing Oud. These ads were everywhere, so she decided to give these fragrances a try.


She visited a department store or a niche fragrance house. Upon arrival, she looked for the X fragrance in the Oud perfumes section that she saw in the ad.


"Ah there you go" she found what she was looking for.


She picked up the test bottle in one hand while holding the test strip away from her in the other hand. She sprayed the perfume on the strip.

While waiting for it to settle, she read the label, and she sees the word "Oud".


It was one part of the perfume name as well as an ingredient of the perfume.

She got a good impression of this perfume within the first 5 minutes. She remembered the ad, and the word Oud kept appearing in her mind. As a result, she loved it even more. She tried different brands as long as the perfumes have the word Oud on the label.

She thought had an impression of what Oud should smell like. Then she bought some home.

After several weeks of experience with Oud perfumes that she bought, she wanted to try Oud wood essential oil. 

So she ordered some from different vendors.


Days later, when she received her orders, she opened her parcels, took a 3ml Oud bottle out and tried with excitement.




Suddenly she feels disgusted.

She said to herself, "this is disgusting; this is not Oud. And this is certainly not what I want." She then opened a different parcel that had some samples of Agarwood oils.

She found one of these oils had a "strange smell", others were too pungent. Some even smelled like fecal and urine.

" Oh My God, why was nothing like the description? These Oud did not smell woody or floral; their scents were weird and appalling; I want a refund because These Ouds smell like shit; that seller is a joke." JM was clearly upset.



To release her anger, she posted her experience online, in some groups and forums, telling everyone about her ordeal.


If you are a vendor, I am sure you have seen many customers like JM. And it is a constant battle to explain to someone like her.

I know it is unfair to you because you are selling genuine Oud. What she did to you could potentially ruin your reputation.


Can you blame her?

Probably not because she got the wrong impression from the beginning. What she tried was not the 100% pure version of Oud. She liked the blends, the perfumes, not the Oud. She thought the perfume smelled nice, so the Oud should smell nice.


I heard you, but I knew the reason she was not happy with how the oud smelled:


Here are some potential reasons why had bad experiences with Oud:


1- She had no previous experience with Oud, and she only tried Oud perfumes. As a result, she got the wrong impression of what Oud should smell like.


2- The ads and posts that she saw were misleading. It could also be the label or the name of the perfume. For example, "Pure Arabian Oud". Think about it, the name said "Pure" but how could it be pure if it is a perfume which was a blend of hundreds of different essential oils or synthetic oil? The pictures and descriptions were not accurate.


3- She expected Oud to smell like the perfume that she tried, which is not possible because Oud is an ingredient of the perfume, not the main scent.


4- The Oud oil that she ordered was not of good quality. It might be fake oud, diluted or mixed with other oils. Even if it is good quality, the opening notes may shock her. It takes time to reveal the beauty of oud oil.



Imagine that you are a new oud user, you may feel the same with JM. You think the seller is dishonest and selling you SH!T.




If you are an experienced oud consumer, you will understand how JM feels. Because you see a version of your early self. You will also sympathise with the vendor.


JM may not realise, but what she smells is not Oud but perfume - a blend of different ingredients, and maybe, real Oud is one of the ingredients.


Hang on Trent. "What do you mean by 'maybe'?"


Genuine oud oil is distilled from agarwood. And with natural ingredients, the quality will vary batch by batch. Although the scent profile does not change much, it differs slightly from one batch to another. 

Because of this reason, commercial perfumers do not like to use it. Commercial products require consistency in large quantities, and for quality control, the ingredients need to be identical from batch to batch. To ensure this, they prefer synthetic oil. 

Secondly, synthetic Oud is more cost-effective; hence there will not be real Oud in the perfume after all. Just like strawberry milk, there is no actual strawberry in the milk. "XX Oud" fragrance does not have Oud in it.


Just like strawberry as a fruit and strawberry milk, one who likes strawberry milk may not like the actual strawberry fruit because they are very different products. Oud and oud perfume are two different things. 

"Ok, I get it. But does that I mean if I like oud perfume, I may not like Oud?"

The answer is " it depends". It is all about the experience you have associated with Oud.

If you have tried many Oud oil before, you would likely have your own preference. You will prefer some aromas over others.

If this was your first time trying Oud oil, then you may find it overwhelming or even disgusting. 


Reasons for bad Oud smell

1) (Un)familiarity

So why the same Oud, one finds it disgusting, while others enjoy it?

It depends on your background, and it is all about familiarity.


You see, if you are like most people, you would love your mom's cooking because it reminds you of her unconditional love for you.


When you travel to a different state or country, you will spend some nights in a hotel or Airbnb. Let's say you sleep in a 5-star hotel. Have you ever felt that you do not sleep as well as you are at home?

Hotel Bed
Nothing special, ordinary bed or my bed


You know the bed in a 5-star hotel is better than your own bed in terms of quality, but you still prefer your own one. Why? 


Maybe it is part of our human survival skills. When we were at the stone age, we "sleep with one eye open" because predators surrounded us. We only sleep well when we know it is safe. So when we are in an unfamiliar place, subconsciously, we don't feel safe, so we don't sleep quite well. We have not been used to our "new" beds yet. However, if you travel frequently, you will overcome this issue. Your body adapts, and you can sleep anywhere.


People who grow up with Oud will generally prefer smelling Oud alone. As pure oud oil is potent, if you have not tried it before, you may not like it initially because you are unfamiliar with it.

If you ask people with a Middle East background, you will find they would likely be familiar with Oud. My friend even told me he knows someone who keeps one bottle of pure Oud in the car, one at home, and one in his pocket so he can access them all the time. 

Many young people live in some countries where Agarwood is not so popular. If you have an Oud oil sample for them and ask for their feedback after trying, they may ask why you are giving them "sewerage water". They may shake their heads and give you a big NO.

So the same Oud oil, there are many people who love, and at the same time, many people hate it. It all boils down to familiarity.  

But if you are open-minded, this potent scent is no longer a threat to your subconscious mind over time. You know it is safe to smell, and you will find that Oud oil is not bad after all. 


You will discover there are many varieties of oud oils, and who knows, one day, you might fall in love with many of them.


So currently, if you had a bad experience with Oud Oil before, you would be on the fence. You will think all Oud smelled bad, all Oud smelled like sewerage.


If you are one of those who do not like Oud Oil, I would like to make a suggestion. 


Get Agarwood chips and heat them, and you will discover that it would be a completely different experience from using the Agarwood Oil (Oud).

Since you are on the Grandawood website, you can find out our oud chips here


The reason to try Oud chip (or agarwood chip)

To distil Oud Oil, the distillers will use treated Oud Chips. 

To treat Oud chips, the distillers need to pulverise and soak them underwater. When soaking wood underwater, bacteria microorganisms start developing. This is called fermentation.

When this happens, the Oud aroma changes and it becomes complicated. 

So if you are new to Oud, you will have a better experience of enjoying Agarwood chips than smelling Agarwood Oil.

Once you are familiar with how chips smell and learn more about it, then you can try Oud oil next.  You will find your nose improves dramatically.

An easy way to start is to try our Great Karma agarwood chips.


Once you have tried this, you will know what genuine Agarwood chip smell like.

Reason 2: Concentration: The bad smell of 100% purity

Have you tried deer musk before?

If not, allow me to share

Back then, I only knew musk through books.

In Mandarin, there was a saying “有麝自然香”.

有: possess or have

麝: deer musk

自然: naturally

香: fragrance

Literally, it means there is musk, there is fragrance.

For example, if you are skilled at something, people will naturally recognise you.

If you have a nice garden, birds will visit automatically and naturally

If the flower is aromatic and sweet, bees will come naturally, effortlessly.


So when I first heard of musk, I imagined something pleasant, floral and sweet.

Also, when I was a kid, my friend gave me a Musk Life Saver Lolly; it was sweet, floral flavoured and musky. Back then, it was one of the best-selling lollies. In my mind, when someone mentioned Musk, it reminded me of many positive experiences. Although I did not try it before, I believed musk must smell great and pleasant. “有麝自香” right? Musk automatically, naturally, effortlessly" smells good, right?

When my trade partner gave me the Siberian musk, musk was nothing I imagine

I tried it on the oil form (tincture) the first time, it was overwhelming.

My mom said "did your son poop in the room?".

I gave a tiny drop to my mom. She smelled and freaked out. She washed her hand multiple times with soap and could not get rid of the smell. She could not sleep that night.

Anyway, when my 6-year-old son was back from his school on the same date that my Mom smelled the musk tincture, he said "somebody must have pooped close to here". He refused to come to the musk tincture as he could smell it far away.

For image of the musk, click here, image by Sjschen

The deer musk smell is intense and can be overwhelming for some people.

When it is undiluted and still fresh, the musk smells like urine and annimalic.

It is often described as being similar to skunk spray, fecal, or rotting flesh.


Because of its intensity, it is best used in small amounts and should be diluted before use. If you are unsure if you can handle the smell, starting with a lower concentration is best.


Deer musk oil is often used as an ingredient in perfumes and fragrances. It can also be used to make incense and potpourri. 5% of deer musk in a floral attar or perfume blend works wonderfully. It is wonderful, without fecal or "weird" notes. If done right by a skilled perfumer, the musk augments the perfume accords.

In short, with deer musk, the higher the concentration, the more fecal notes it has.

At 20% concentration, even you washed your hand, the smell would still linger for several hours. In my mum case, it haunted her for the whole night. 

Similarly, with Agarwood Oil, people who have not tried Oud before may feel overwhelmed by the initial "pungent" smell. In this case, if you find it strong, you could dilute it with jojoba and let it sit on a cotton pad or tissue for a while.

The oxygen from the air will oxidise your Oud oil on the cotton pad and it could be a good thing. After 1 hour, you will notice the "harsh" smell will fade, revealing some pleasant notes, and you may find Oud oil is not that bad after all.

Remember 100% Purity only smells great if you know what to expect. And If you have not tried Oud before, try the perfume or attar first.

Still want to try 100% pure Oud? No worry, don't apply straight on your wrist but a cotton pad. Let the air do the magic for you.

Having a question? Leave me a message in the chat window, and I will return to you in no time.





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