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Exploring the Fragrance of Agar Wood: A Comprehensive Guide

Agarwood, known for its captivating aroma and various applications, has been highly valued for centuries by different cultures worldwide. This alluring fragrant wood, derived from the Aquilaria tree species, not only plays a significant role in perfumery and incense making but also possesses medicinal properties, making it a highly sought-after commodity. Let us embark on a journey to explore the fascinating world of agar wood, its origins, production, and the global market dynamics that make it an essential element in the world of fragrances.

Key Takeaways

  • Agarwood is a highly sought-after material with cultural and religious significance, distinctive fragrance, medicinal properties and international demand.

  • The global agarwood market faces challenges such as overharvesting, habitat loss and counterfeit products that require sustainable practices for its survival.

  • Artificial induction techniques are used to sustainably produce agarwood while experienced human graders evaluate quality based on resin content, age species origin etc.

The Essence of Agarwood: Origins and Significance

Agarwood, or oud as it’s commonly referred in the Middle East, has a rich history that dates back to ancient civilizations. This rare and highly valued fragrant wood is derived from the Aquilaria tree species, predominantly found in Southeast Asia. The essential oil extracted from these trees has held cultural and religious significance in various societies for centuries. Agarwood, with its distinctive fragrance, has played a pivotal role in religious rituals and ceremonies. The resin it produces was even used as a writing material in the thirteenth century.

The global market demand for eagle wood, another name for agarwood, has been steadily rising in recent years. It’s extensively used in the production of high-end perfumes, incense, and medicinal products. Agarwood’s natural compounds, such as chromones and terpenoids, are responsible for its unique fragrance and have been found to possess pharmaceutical properties and medicinal benefits.

While agarwood’s origins can be traced to Southeast Asia, its reach has expanded across the world, with the Middle East being one of the major consumers of its essential oil. Over the years, international trade in agarwood products has grown significantly, leading to increased demand and affirming its status as one of the most expensive raw materials worldwide. This ever-growing demand has led to concerns about the sustainability of wild Aquilaria trees and the need for innovative production methods to ensure the continued availability of this precious resource.

The significance of agarwood in various cultures, its distinctive fragrance, and its medicinal properties make it a highly sought-after commodity, contributing to its sustained popularity in the global market. Delving deeper into the world of agarwood reveals the tree species responsible for its production, the intriguing process of agarwood formation, and its wide-ranging uses in perfumes, incense, and medicine.

The Aquilaria Tree: Home to Agarwood

The Aquilaria tree species, native to Southeast Asia, serves as the primary source of agarwood. Vietnam, Cambodia, and Indonesia are the leading producers of agarwood in the region, where producing Aquilaria species are indigenous. The trade of agarwood in Northeast India has existed since prehistoric times, with evidence of oil distillation in ancient Assam during the thirteenth century. The wood and oil were exported to the Middle East through Kamarupa via the silk route, as agarwood remains one of the most expensive raw materials in the world.

In India, the agar tree, scientifically known as Aquilaria Agallocha (synonym Aquilaria malaccensis), is of particular importance. However, a key point to remember is that not all Aquilaria trees produce agarwood. In Assam, India, the agar tree is classified into two categories: ‘Jati Sanchi’ and ‘Bhola Sanchi,’ both of which produce natural agarwood.

The production of wild-type agarwood is a lengthy process, estimated to take several years. This scarcity has led to increased efforts in the cultivation of agar trees in other regions of India, such as Kerala, Maharashtra, and Gujarat, where the soil and climate are suitable for their growth. This cultivation helps preserve wild Aquilaria trees and meet the increasing demand for agarwood.

Aquilaria trees’ role in producing agarwood is not limited to their native regions of Southeast Asia and India. Their cultivation has expanded across the globe in response to the growing demand for agarwood products. Continuing our exploration, we aim to unveil the intriguing process of agarwood formation and the natural defense mechanisms that facilitate its creation.

The Formation of Agarwood: A Natural Defense Mechanism

Agarwood is formed as a result of the tree’s natural defense mechanism against fungal infections and insect infestations, leading to the production of resinous heartwood. The infection of fungi begins when a stem is injured or bored by a larva of a stem borer, mainly Zeuzera conferta Walker, which bores into the trunk of a standing tree and creates tunnels inside the tree trunks. Fungus is able to enter the plant through a vertical, sometimes zigzag tunnel that goes into the stem. This tunnel is the initial site of fungal infection..

As the infection spreads gradually, a larger wood volume becomes naturally infected, and the higher the insect infestation in the infected area, the greater the chance of forming resinous wood. This resinous wood can then be processed into oud chips, highly sought after for their aromatic qualities.

Various customary techniques are employed to stimulate agarwood formation, such as:

  • wide and narrow incisions

  • screw-drilled holes

  • extensive bark removal with hatchets

  • nails hammered into the tree trunk

  • hammering the Aquilaria trunk

These methods are a common method often used in the production of oud perfumes, taking advantage of the captivating fragrance of agarwood.

The formation of agarwood as a natural defense mechanism is a fascinating process that highlights the extraordinary qualities of the Aquilaria tree. As infection process as we move forward, we’ll learn about the complex extraction and production methods used to obtain the precious agarwood oil.

Extraction and Production of Agarwood Oil

The extraction and production of agarwood oil involve complex processes, including distillation, to obtain the precious and fragrant oil used in various applications. The traditional hydrodistillation process for extracting agarwood oil involves:

  1. Steam passing through agarwood chips or powder, carrying the aromatic compounds with it.

  2. Subsequently, the steam is condensed, and the resulting mixture of water and oil is collected.

  3. The oil is separated from the water through decantation or filtration.

This method is renowned for producing high-quality agarwood oil.

The total yield of oil for 70 kg of wood should not exceed 20 ml, indicating the scarcity and precious nature of agarwood oil, also known as oud oil. Alternative methods, such as solvent-free microwave extraction and microwave-assisted extraction (MAE), offer advantages like shorter extraction time and higher yield compared to hydrodistillation.

The cost of frankincense essential oil, another valuable oil extracted from agarwood, typically ranges from 30,000 USD per liter. The extraction and production processes of agarwood oil are vital, as they provide the world with this coveted fragrant oil, which is used extensively in perfumes, incense, and medicinal products.

The Many Uses of Agarwood: Perfumes, Incense, and Medicine

Agarwood’s versatility is one of the reasons for its sustained popularity and high demand. It is utilized in various industries, including:

  • Perfumery

  • Cosmetics

  • Medicinal products

  • Incense

  • High-end furniture

As a widely used ingredient in perfumery, agarwood commonly serves as a base note and is often combined with rose.

Two types of agarwood, Bass and Speed, are regularly employed to manufacture products like:

  • bracelets

  • incense

  • buds

  • essential oils

Thien Moc Huong in Vietnam is a viable option for acquiring high-quality agarwood at a reasonable price. The estimated price range for types 2, 3, and 4 of agarwood incense in Vietnam is approximately 500 USD to 20,000 USD per kilogram.

Research has indicated that agarwood possesses anti-cancer, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and anti-depressant properties. Agarwood oil is composed of various compounds, such as terpenoids, agarofurans, cadinanes, eudesmanes, valencanes, and eremophilanes. Guaianes, prezizanes, vetispiranes, simple volatile aromatic compounds, and miscellaneous compounds can also be found in agarwood oil. Chromones, one of the compounds found in agarwood, have therapeutic properties against a range of cancers, anti-inflammatory effects, and potential antimicrobial and antioxidant properties.

The composition of agarwood oil hinges on several factors, including the age geographical location and species of the trees, along with the specific extraction process employed. Continuing our exploration into the world of agarwood, we will examine the artificial induction techniques developed to produce agarwood sustainably while safeguarding the endangered Aquilaria species.

Artificial Induction Techniques for Sustainable Agarwood Production

Artificial induction techniques have been developed to sustainably produce agarwood, meeting the growing global demand while protecting the critically endangered, Aquilaria species. This process involves inducing agarwood formation, including biological inoculation, ensuring the continued availability of this precious resource.

Key strains of fungi or bacteria, such as Aspergillus sp., L. theobromae, and Fusarium sp., are essential for the biological inoculation of agarwood. To introduce chemicals into agarwood trees, a hole is drilled into the tree trunk, and the chemicals are administered into the tree via a syringe or transfusion set.

The biological approach to agarwood induction offers benefits in terms of quality and yield, which are contingent upon the strains of fungi or bacteria applied during the inoculation process. These artificial induction techniques contribute to sustainable agarwood production and help preserve the endangered Aquilaria species.

Evaluating Agarwood Quality: Factors and Considerations

Agarwood quality is determined by various factors, such as:

  • Resin content

  • Age

  • Species

  • Origin

Higher-quality agarwood commands higher prices in the market. The concentration of sesquiterpenes in agarwood has a direct impact on the quality of the oil produced.

Agarwood quality is typically assessed by experienced human graders, taking into consideration factors such as:

  • color

  • odor

  • fixative

  • consumer preference

The quality of agarwood is the primary determinant of its market value.

For those who appreciate its unique fragrance and high value therein, understanding the factors and considerations involved in evaluating agarwood quality becomes crucial. As we venture further into the world of agarwood, we’ll examine the global market dynamics and the challenges faced in trading this precious commodity.

The Global Market for Agarwood: Trade Dynamics and Challenges

The global market for agarwood faces challenges such as overharvesting, habitat loss, and counterfeit products, necessitating sustainable practices and conservation efforts. It is predicted that the global agarwood market will reach $14.64 billion by 2028, while recent estimates valued the market at $8.24 billion in 2020.

CITES Appendix II necessitates the monitoring of international trade in agarwood to ensure that harvesting and exporting activities are not detrimental to the species’ survival in the wild. Leading importers of agarwood and its derivatives include Saudi Arabia, Singapore, and Kuwait.

The price range for type 1 agarwood is between $20,000 and $100,000 per kg, highlighting the high cost of this precious resource. Factors such as regulatory changes, natural disasters, and economic conditions may also impact the price of agarwood.

The challenges encountered in the global agarwood market underscore the need for sustainable harvesting practices and the development of sustainable methods to meet future demands.

Agarwood in Thailand: A Unique Fragrance in Southeast Asia

Thailand, a country rich in biodiversity, is also home to the Aquilaria tree species, the primary source of agarwood. Known locally as "Krissana", agarwood has a significant cultural and economic value in Thailand. The country is recognized for its sustainable agarwood production, contributing to the global market while preserving the precious Aquilaria species.

In Thailand, agarwood is used in traditional medicine, religious ceremonies, and is a key ingredient in the local perfume industry. The Thai government promotes sustainable practices in agarwood cultivation and extraction, ensuring the preservation of this valuable resource for future generations.

Caring for Agarwood Products: Tips and Best Practices

Proper care and handling of agarwood products can help preserve their unique fragrance and quality, ensuring a long-lasting and enjoyable experience for users. To maintain optimal quality, it is recommended to store agarwood products in a dry, glass container in a cool area.

To ensure that agarwood products remain undamaged, it is recommended to:

  • Use a soft cloth to gently wipe the surface

  • Avoid wet cleaning methods and water

  • For beads, regularly clean with a soft cloth to help form a natural glossy layer.

When deciding on the necessary care measures, it’s important to take into account the specific type and quality of the agarwood product, as agarwood is grouped into various categories based on its quality and characteristics. The processing methods and grading systems used for agarwood can differ depending on the country or region.

Unity Global Alliance, a trusted Thai export company, offers a diverse range of agarwood products that cater to various needs. Their product lineup includes:

  • Agarwood: Sourced responsibly from Aquilaria trees, their agarwood is known for its distinctive, captivating fragrance.

  • Agar Oils: These are extracted through a meticulous distillation process, preserving the unique aroma of agarwood.

  • Personal Care Products: Unity Global Alliance offers a range of agarwood-infused personal care products such as lotions, soaps, shower creams, shampoos, and conditioners. These products are designed to impart the soothing and aromatic properties of agarwood to your daily care routine.

  • Massage Oil: Infused with agarwood, their massage oil not only offers a relaxing experience but also delivers the therapeutic benefits of agarwood.

  • Incense: Their agarwood incense sticks are perfect for creating a calming and fragrant atmosphere in homes or during ceremonies.

  • Agarwood Perfume: Unity Global Alliance's agarwood perfume captures the unique scent of agarwood in a wearable format, offering a long-lasting fragrance experience.

Each product is crafted with care and attention to detail, ensuring the preservation of agarwood's unique properties. Unity Global Alliance is committed to sustainable practices and quality, making them a trusted source for agarwood products in Thailand.

Unity Global Alliance: Your Trusted Source for Agarwood Products

Unity Global Alliance is a trusted Thai export company, offering a diverse range of high-quality agarwood products. From the captivating fragrance of sourced agarwood to the soothing properties of their personal care products, Unity Global Alliance caters to various needs with their comprehensive product lineup. Their commitment to sustainable practices and quality assurance makes them a reliable source for agarwood products in Thailand.

For more information about their products or to place an order, feel free to reach out to Unity Global Alliance. Their team of experts will be more than happy to assist you in exploring the fascinating world of agarwood. Let Unity Global Alliance be your gateway to experiencing the unique allure of agarwood.


Whatsapp: +66 93 154 1996


In conclusion, agarwood’s captivating fragrance, cultural significance, and various applications have made it a highly sought-after commodity worldwide in many cultures. As we’ve explored the origins, production, and global market dynamics of agarwood, it’s evident that sustainable practices and conservation efforts are crucial for preserving this precious resource. May your newfound knowledge and appreciation for agarwood enhance your experiences with this alluring and valuable fragrant wood.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is agar wood so expensive?

Agarwood, or oud, is a fragrant wood that has become increasingly rare and expensive due to unsustainable production and trade. Its unique scent and cultural significance means demand for the wood is high, while only 2% of wild Aquilaria trees are adequately infected to produce it naturally. This combination of high demand and low supply make agarwood one of the most expensive woods in the world.

What is agar wood good for?

Agarwood is valued for its aromatic bark, and is widely used to produce perfumes, oil, incense sticks, and herbal medications. It is also employed as an ingredient in aromatherapy and traditional medicine, mainly to address gastrointestinal ailments, coughs, rheumatism, and fever.

How much is 1 kg agarwood?

A kilogram of first-grade agarwood can cost up to $100,000, making it one of the world's most expensive raw materials.

What is the primary source of agarwood?

Agarwood is primarily sourced from the Aquilaria tree species, a tree native to Southeast Asia, providing a sustainable and renewable resource.

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