7 Differences between Agarwood and Sandalwood

What are the differences between Sandalwood and Agarwood? We are asked this question almost every day.
Now, let us understand what the differences between sandalwood and agarwood are.

1. How it become scented

The scent of agarwood is acquired.
When the agarwood is damaged externally, the secreted oil and certain microorganisms will go through chemical reactions, and form the agglomerates. There are many reasons for external injuries, such as lightning strikes, typhoons, rodents and insect bites, manual logging and so on. After the agarwood tree suffers external damage, it will shed a liquid out of its instinct to protect itself. The wound happened to be infected by the menanotus flavolivens. In order for this fungus to survive in the tree, it will metabolize rapidly, resulting in a series of magical chemical changes.

The agarwood tree’s antibodies and the infected fungus mixed together for a long time, and slowly form a substance called benzylacetone. Over time, it will form sesquiterpene and chromones compounds, and these two substances are the so-called agarwood.

The scent of sandalwood is congenital
After the sandalwood tree reaches a certain age, the resin glands will mature naturally and secrete sap with scent. Sandalwood is more common because it is scented without being need to be injured.

East Malaysia Sink-Grade Agarwood Coil Incense
East Malaysia Sink-Grade Agarwood Coil Incense

2. The difference in scent

The scent of agarwood is richer, and the most common ones are: sweet, cool, floral, fruity, and milky. Each has its own different characteristics. The scent layer is complex and changeable. A piece of agarwood often emits several different layers of scent after being ignited in an incense burner. The taster is like enjoying a symphony of scent.

The scent of sandalwood is relatively monotonous, elegant and noble, with an innate sense of solemnity. After being ignited with open flame, the scent can quickly fill the entire space. The scent is monotonous and lacks layering.

Premium Nha Thrang Agarwood Coil Incense
Premium Nha Thrang Agarwood Coil Incense

3. The difference of lasting power of the scent

The scent of agarwood belongs to secret scent. The scent is relatively condensed, and the taste chain is long, therefore the scent can last longer. The scent of high-grade agarwood can even last for days.

The scent of sandalwood belongs to open scent, and the scent can only last for a while.

Vietnam Hoi An Ban Chen Sink-Grade Agarwood
Vietnam Hoi An Ban Chen Sink-Grade Agarwood

4. The difference in rarity

In terms of rarity, ordinary sandalwood is more common. Yellow sandalwood, lobular red sandalwood, red sandalwood, black sandalwood, green sandalwood can often be seen.

Agarwood is relatively rare compared to sandalwood, especially the wild genuine agarwood.

Indonesia Xing Zhou Sink-Grade Agarwood Incense Stick
Indonesia Xing Zhou Sink-Grade Agarwood Incense Stick

5. The difference in efficacy

In the “Compendium of Materia Medica”, it is clearly recorded that Agarwood has the effect of clearing the mind. Modern scientific research has even proved that the agarwood scent in the agarwood has a good calming effect, therefore it has more prominent role in calming the nerves. Agarwood can bring you good effects especially for relieving dizziness, fatigue caused by long-term fatigue, or insomnia, anxiety and dreamful.

The basic function of sandalwood is circulating the Qi and warming the spleen and stomach. Smouldering can sterilize and disinfect, expels plague, removes pathogen, resist insects and moths. It can also soothe nerves and refresh the brain and calm the mind.

Agarwood and Mixed Herbs (Tibetan Formula)
Agarwood and Mixed Herbs (Tibetan Formula)

6. The difference in appearance

The resin of agarwood raw material is thick, and since it has been deposited for many years, the quality of wood of agarwood is loosen. It will only emits scent after it is scented, and it has anti-corrosion properties. There will be black grease lines in the wood duct which are oilier, and it feels thick and heavier.


Sandalwood belongs to small arbor, and the patina is not as thick and obvious as agarwood’s, the texture is hard, delicate, and smooth, and the grains is straight or slightly wavy, and the growth ring is obvious or not very obvious.


7. The difference in health preservation

The scent of agarwood is mellower, which can be used for concentrating and calming. It is very suitable for use at any time.

The taste of sandalwood is clear and melodious. It has a better refreshing effect, and hence suitable for use in the morning.

Thuja Sandalwood
Thuja Sandalwood

So, is agarwood or sandalwood better? You may refer to our article:

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