Patchouli is a scent that many people either like or hate.
It is an earthy, spicy, and somewhat sweet perfume that has been associated with the aroma of health food stores. Others find it musty or vegetal, while others find it very rich and one-of-a-kind.
When properly mixed, patchouli creates an excellent foundation note for refined scents such as those found in our renowned Ellington and Speakeasy premium candles.
If you’re unfamiliar with patchouli or want to learn more about its history, you’ve come to the right place. This article will detail the fragrance of patchouli and where it comes from.
What is patchouli exactly?
Patchouli is a tropical flowering shrub native to Southeast Asia. Pogostemon cablin is its formal name, although most people call it “patchouli” or “patch” for short.
This beautiful plant can grow up to 3 feet tall and has big, hairy leaves and beautiful purple-white flowers that come out of thick, woolly spikes.
Patchouli belongs to 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 discover the plant’s medicinal, culinary, and insect repellant properties.
Its fragrant leaves were transported to the Middle East through silk trade routes, wrapped in trunks of silks, carpets, and other expensive products to keep moths and other insects at bay. Napoleon is said to have brought patchouli to Europe, where it quickly became well-known for its rich, exotic smell.
Patchouli is arguably best known as a characteristic aroma of the 1960s and 1970s American counterculture movement. Its earthy, relaxing aroma was popular with free-spirited hippies.
But don’t be fooled into believing patchouli is only a “hippie” scent. Patchouli is now used in some of the most expensive and classy perfumes you can buy.
How does patchouli smell?
Patchouli has a deep, earthy perfume that is often associated with woody scents, but it may also be used to produce exquisite ambery, fougère, and chypre odors.
According to most individuals, patchouli smells earthy and musky on its own. Those who like it do so because of the gently spicy, sweet, and woody ingredients that provide this one-of-a-kind scent with elegance and character.
Those who loathe patchouli find its earthiness disgusting, comparing it to the smell of a cold basement, a wet dog, or an unbathed hippie. To be sure, they often smell like low-quality patchouli.
Patchouli’s aroma may be objectively described as:
peppery, woody, and sweet
a little drugged.
A good patchouli essential oil smells like walking through a verdant forest barefoot after a heavy rain. The heavy odor of moist earth under your feet is followed by the pleasant, herbaceous odor of the trees and plants surrounding you.
Patchouli is a versatile foundation note that complements citrusy notes like bergamot, floral notes such as lavender and geranium, and woodsy notes such as sandalwood and vetiver.
It adds elegance, refinement, and depth to many mixtures when used sparingly (less is more). Popular Patchouli fragrances that are popular include:
A Gentleman, Tom Ford, Patchouli Absolute
Frederic Malle’s Givenchy Dior Chance Monsieur Eau de Parfum
What is Patchouli’s Aroma?
Patchouli’s characteristic perfume is obtained mostly from its large, fuzzy leaves and stems, which are harvested and dried on a regular basis. Patchouli essential oil is extracted from these leaves using steam distillation.
Patchouli essential oil comprises patchoulol, norpatchoulenol, and germacrene-B as active constituents.
Patchouli’s distinct earthy, sweet, and camphoraceous scent is attributable mostly to patchoulol. There is also norpatchoulenol present. However, we couldn’t find any information about how this medicine smells.
Lastly, Germacrene-B is a sesquiterpene that smells like wood and helps make patchouli work as an insect repellent.
Patchouli Aromatherapy Benefits
Patchouli aromatherapy may aid in relaxation, mood enhancement, and anxiety reduction.
Some describe it as a grounding and emotionally balanced perfume that promotes relaxation of both the mind and the body. It boosts the production of feel-good neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin, which help relieve anxiety, stress, and depression.
The scent is closely associated with love and desire. Patchouli has been used as an aphrodisiac for a long time because it raises estrogen and testosterone levels, making both men and women feel more sexually stimulated.