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The Life of Oud: A Love Story

I can’t hide it any longer, I’m in love… with oud! Pronounced üd, or, as I like to think of it, “oooooh’d,” I can’t get enough of this full-bodied, sensual fragrance. With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, I just had to share my love affair with oud with you, my faithful readers. Who knows, it just might inspire you to burn this manly, musky scent and turn up the heat with your boo this February 14th!

Oud is the perfect fragrance to burn during these chilly winter months, especially when you’re snuggled up with your lover for a cozy evening at home. It smells like a sexy lumberjack just in from chopping firewood… musky and woodsy with a warm embrace. I LOVE this scent so much that I burn an oud candle about once a week, even in the summer months.

Another reason I love oud is because of how rare and special it is. One of the premiere ingredients in the luxury fragrance industry today, it has a pretty fascinating history that goes back millennia!


The fragrance of oud comes from agarwood, a dark wood found in enormous evergreen trees in Southeast and South Asia. When the agarwood becomes infected with a particular fungus, it fights back by producing a dark resin—Oud—that smells simply amazing. Agarwood has a special place in Hinduism, Shintoism, and Sunni Islam, and oud has been used in religious ceremonies since before the written word.

As local materials began being traded internationally during the Age of Exploration, word spread about the many benefits of agarwood and oud became a highly desired commodity. The scent was even said to be one of King Louis XIV’s favorites—legend has it that he used to have his clothing washed in oud!

Oud as a Premium Ingredient

Oud’s popularity only increased over time—so much so that it’s now one of the most expensive ingredients in the world (valued at $5,000 a pound or more!). The coveted scent remains in high demand, particularly by high quality perfumers and luxury candle makers, due to its signature masculine, smoky scent that also happens to be an aphrodisiac!

This massive demand has led to agarwood becoming potentially threatened as resources continue to be depleted for a variety of purposes. Many of the candle companies that I choose to feature on Well Boxed have come to my attention because of their commitment to sustainable fragrance practices, including their dedication to ensuring that agarwood is recovered enough to have its threatened status removed. Some of my favorite companies with a commitment to environmentally-friendly business practices that choose not to use oud include Acqua di Parma, Neom, and Cire Trudon.

My Favorite Oud Scents

Many of my favorite candles use oud as either a base or secondary ingredient (keeping costs and environmental impact down), infusing its manly scent into the wax without overusing this rare ingredient. Some of these fabulous candles that continue fanning the flame of my oud obsession include:

Bella Freud Signature: Warm and smoky, featuring notes of cedarwood, amber, and myrrh.

Diptyque Oud: Oud’s musky scent is enhanced by notes of patchouli and sandalwood.

Calming Park Oud Black Edition: Amber and the earthy spice of nargamota oils is accented by oud, cedar, and sandalwood.

Trust me, you need the enigmatic burn of oud in your life! Light one of my favorites with your flame this Valentine’s Day and prepare yourself for love at first smell.

Photos: plantationcapitalresearch.com, theatlantic.com, Diptyque

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