What Does Vetiver Smell Like?

What Does Vetiver Smell Like?

By Damon Routzhan

What Does Vetiver Smell Like?

One of the most common ingredients found in candles, soaps, and masculine colognes, vetiver is an absolute staple in the fragrance world. Despite this, though, very few people seem to know what it actually is or what it smells like. That’s about to change today. Keep reading below to learn more about this awesome scent powerhouse.


So, vetiver is used in lots of things that smell nice, but what exactly is vetiver? Well, vetiver essentially comes from an Indian grass called Chrysopogon zizanioides, a plant that grows up to five feet high and has long, flexible stems and tough, rigid leaves.

Partially due to chance but partly due to the environment, the grass can only reach its true potential in clay or sandy loam soil. This makes its native India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka perfect for the grass, but other tropical spots such as Honduras and Argentina work well, too.

After maturing for anywhere from a year and a half to two years, the grass’ roots are then harvested and are either pressed or, more typically, distilled to extract its essential oils. The resulting oil is the vetiver that can then be used as a fragrance in various products and is rather unique compared to others as it has no proper synthetic substitute. With over 100 known components, the complex scent profile is simply too challenging to replicate with any success.


While the origins of vetiver are interesting, it still doesn’t quite illuminate any of the mystery surrounding what it truly smells like. The best comparisons lie with citronella and lemongrass, as the plants are closely related to one another. At its base is the kind of smell you’d expect – grassy and a little floral and vaguely reminiscent of summer days spent mowing the lawn.

However, the scent is far more complicated than just this and is a little bit more bitter. It also has earthy, woody notes and some hints of smoke and leather that make it feel both sexy and kind of dark. Because of this, vetiver tends to be marketed towards men, although it’s a scent that’s easily enjoyable to everyone regardless of gender.

Despite its masculine, slightly edgy scent profile, vetiver is a rather comforting smell, making it fantastic for candles. It can instantly warm up a room and leave you feeling cozy and secure just with a few whiffs. Woodsy without the same intense sharpness as cedarwood or pine, spicy while smoother than cardamom or clove, and masculine without being overpowering, vetiver is a wonderfully balanced scent that does excellent on its own but also plays well with others.

Whether you try it out in a candle that showcases the fragrance or opt for one that uses it as a solid base note, you’re sure to love vetiver’s leathery, natural scent.

Check out our selection of natural scented candles.



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