Patchouli is an extremely polarizing scent; many individuals either like or loathe it.
It has an earthy, spicy, and somewhat sweet aroma that has been associated to the fragrance of health food stores. Some find it pleasantly rich and exotic, while others find it musty or vegetal.
Patchouli, when correctly mixed, produces a lovely foundation note for refined smells like those found in our famed Ellington and Speakeasy premium candles.
If you’re not acquainted with patchouli or want to learn more about its history, you’ve come to the right place. This page will explain what patchouli smells like and where it comes from.
WHAT EXACTLY IS PATCHOULI?
Patchouli is a bushy, flowering shrub endemic to Southeast Asian tropical countries. Pogostemon cablin is its scientific name, although most people call it “patchouli” or “patch” for short.
This magnificent plant may grow up to 3 feet tall, with large, hairy leaves and stunning purple-white blossoms erupting from thick, woolly spikes.
Patchouli is a part of the mint family (Lamiaceae), which is strange considering that it does not smell like mint — we’ll go over how patchouli smells in more depth below.
Patchouli’s history began with the Tamils of South India, who were the first to find uses for the plant in medicine, cuisine, and as an insect repellant.
Its fragrant leaves arrived in the Middle East through silk trade routes, wrapped in trunks of silks, carpets, and other expensive objects to keep moths and other insects at away. Centuries later, Napoleon is said to have been the first to bring patchouli to Europe, where it quickly became famed for its rich, exotic perfume.
Patchouli is arguably best known as a defining perfume of the 1960s and 1970s American counterculture movement. Its relaxing, earthy aroma was highly popular among free-spirited hippies.
But don’t be fooled into believing patchouli is only a “hippie” scent. Patchouli may now be found in some of the world’s most sumptuous and elegant fragrances.
HOW DOES PATCHOULI SMELL?
Patchouli is most typically associated with the woody smell family because to its intense, earthy nature, but it is also used to create exquisite ambery, fougère, and chypre scents.
Patchouli smells earthy and musky on its own, according to most individuals. Those that enjoy it usually appreciate it because of the subtly spicy, sweet, and woody ingredients that provide refinement and character to this one-of-a-kind scent.
Those who loathe patchouli find the earthiness unappealing, evoking comparisons to the aroma of a cool basement, a wet dog, or an unbathed hippie. Granted, they usually smell like cheap or low-quality patchouli.
Patchouli’s aroma may be defined objectively as:
A little medicinal
A good patchouli essential oil smells like walking through a verdant forest barefoot after heavy rain. The moist earth underneath you has a pungent odor, followed by a sweet and herbal freshness from the bright woods and flora around you.
Patchouli is a flexible foundation note that enhances a broad variety of scents, including citrusy notes like bergamot, floral notes like lavender and geranium, and woodsy notes like sandalwood and vetiver.
It adds elegance, refinement, and depth to many mixtures when used sparingly (less is more). Popular patchouli smells include:
Tom Ford Gentleman Patchouli Absolute
Givenchy Eau de Parfum La Collection Couturier Parfumeur Patchouli Imperial by Dior Chance Monsieur by Frederic Malle Chanel’s Eau de Parfum
Where Does Patchouli Get Its Scent?
Patchouli’s characteristic perfume is generated mostly from its large, fuzzy leaves and stems, which are gathered and dried many times each year. Patchouli essential oil is then extracted from these leaves using steam distillation.
Patchouli essential oil includes the compounds patchoulol, norpatchoulenol, and germacrene-B.
Patchoulol is primarily responsible for patchouli’s distinct earthy, sweet, and camphoraceous fragrance. Norpatchoulenol is also a component, however, we couldn’t find any information on how this substance smells.
Finally, Germacrene-B is a sesquiterpene with a woody scent that gives patchouli insect repellent properties.
PATCHOULI’S AROMATHERAPY BENEFITS
Patchouli aromatherapy may help to calm your emotions, improve your mood, and reduce anxiety.
Some describe it as a grounding and emotionally balanced scent that assists in the relaxation of both the mind and the body. It boosts the synthesis of feel-good neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin, which aid with anxiety, stress, and depression.
The smell is closely associated with love and desire. Patchouli has been used as an aphrodisiac, enhancing estrogen and testosterone to provide a libido boost for both sexes.