How Does Sandalwood Smell? Everything You’ve Always Wanted to Know About the Mysterious Scent of Sandalwood

I’m obsessed with sandalwood. 

The word alone fills my mind with wispy thoughts of an exotic dreamland. 

If you’ve experienced the distinctive smell of sandalwood, you know there’s nothing else quite like it. 

But if you’re one of the poor souls whose nostrils have yet to be graced by its other-worldly aroma, you’re surely wondering, “What does sandalwood smell like, anyway?” 

Wonder no more. 

I’m here to enlighten you about the intricacies of one of my favorite scents — sandalwood — and give you some out-of-this-world scent combinations that make sandalwood smell even more amazing. 


sandalwood smell like


Table of Contents


What Is Sandalwood?

Sandalwood is the name of a class of fragrant woods that possess the uncanny ability to keep their scent for decades.

 It was traditionally burned as incense in religious ceremonies and for enhancing grounding during meditation.

And fun fact, sandalwood is also one of the most expensive woods in the world.


What Does Sandalwood Smell Like?

How does sandalwood smell? Sandalwood aficionados commonly describe the smell of sandalwood as “woody,” but your nose may decide sandalwood’s unique scent smells:

  • Buttery
  • Milky
  • Musky
  • Earthy
  • Spicy 
  • Sweet
  • Exotic; or
  • Tropical

Of course, sandalwood’s scent profile can change depending on the scents its paired with. But more on that later.


The Oriental Woody Scent Family

The fragrance wheel classifies scents into eleven traditional fragrance families, including:

  1. Floral Oriental
  2. Soft Oriental
  3. Oriental
  4. Oriental Woody
  5. Mossy Woods
  6. Dry Woods
  7. Citrus 
  8. Green
  9. Water
  10. Floral; and
  11. Soft Floral

Sandalwood’s scent description is classified as part of the “Oriental Woody” subgroup, which is characterized as earthy and musky with subtle spicy-sweet undertones.

Other scents in the Oriental Woody family include: 

  • Cedar
  • Vetiver
  • Patchouli
  • Pine; and 
  • Cypress


Where Does the Smell of Sandalwood Come From?

The sexy smell of Sandalwood comes from a compound known as santol. This naturally-occurring substance can only be derived from essential oils extracted from the aromatic wood of the tropical Indian sandalwood tree and its relatives. One of the cool things about Sandalwood is that it can retain its scent for decades. 

Native to Southeast Asia and southern India, Indian sandalwood is a slow-growing evergreen that can reach nearly 30 feet and live up to 100 years. And the older the tree — the more valuable its scent. Sadly, Indian sandalwood has been overharvested and is currently an endangered species — reaching near extinction in the wild.

Much of the sandalwood oil these days comes from close relatives of Indian sandalwood trees, including: 


What Mood Does the Scent of Sandalwood Evoke?

The smell of sandalwood summons a variety of moods. 

In Asia, it’s said to bring … 

  • Harmony
  • Focus; and
  • Balance

… to the weary mind.

Sandalwood’s comfortable, exotic aroma can also evoke feelings of:

  • Comfort
  • Relaxation
  • Sensuality; and
  • Seduction


sandalwood smell like


8 Scents That Blend Perfectly With the Smell of Sandalwood

Now that you know how sandalwood smells, you may be curious about smells that pair well with sandalwood’s unique scent. Here are our top eight suggestions … 


#1: Orange

A popular scent in aromatherapy applications, orange is such a common scent you can probably imagine its crisp aroma by simply closing your eyes and taking a deep breath.

The smell of orange is most often described as: 

  • Cheerful 
  • Uplifting 
  • Relaxing; and 
  • Calming 

Orange is known to:

  • Boost motivation 
  • Enhance mood 
  • Ease headaches
  • Improve cognitive function
  • Induce sleep; and
  • Provide balance

And orange’s sedative properties make it a natural libido arousing aphrodisiac for both women and men. 


#2: Jasmine

Jasmine means “gift from God,” and this scent definitely smells like it’s straight from the heavenly realm.

The smell of jasmine is described as: 

  • Rich
  • Sensual
  • Sweet
  • Fruity
  • Intoxicating
  • Exotic; and
  • Intense

Jasmine’s bright aroma has been shown to:

  • Re-energize and stimulate the nervous system
  • Promote a positive mood 
  • Give a sense of security and well-being
  • Help you stay awake and alert

This unique scent is sure to bring peace and focus to the chaos of even the craziest of days.


#3: Ylang-Ylang

Ylang-ylang means “flower of flowers.” (Seriously, can a name get much more beautiful than that?)

Historically, ylang-ylang’s delicate, yellow flowers were sprinkled across the beds of newlyweds on their wedding night. 

That’s because ylang-ylang’s hypnotizing scent acts as a potent aphrodisiac, helping to:

  • Boost libido
  • Elevate the sense of touch
  • Heighten sexual arousal; and
  • Encourage bonding and intimacy

Pair it with sandalwood, and you simply can’t go wrong.


#4: Vanilla

According to a group of scientists from the University of Oxford and the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, vanilla is the most preferred scent in the world.

Just one whiff of a bottle of pure vanilla extract, and you'll understand why. 

Vanilla’s rich, warm, sweet fragrance comes from the pod (or bean) of the vanilla plant, and is known to help:

  • Quell anxiety
  • Calm the nerves
  • Relieve stress
  • Provide a sense of euphoria
  • Relieve hyperactivity; and 
  • Boost mood


#5: Lavender

Another scent that pairs perfectly with the smell of sandalwood, is lavender.

While it's generally recognized for its calming effect, studies show lavender’s amazing scent boosts concentration, recharging your brain during periods of rest and relaxation. 

Lavender is also famous for:

the fact that lavender may lessen the effect of those evil menopausal hot flashes is an added bonus. 


#6: Lemon

Ahhh, the clean, crisp smell of a freshly sliced lemon. 

Lemon’s bright fragrance is known far and wide for:

  • Brightening mood
  • Soothing anxiety
  • Enhancing productivity; and
  • Arousing the senses

And get this. The scent of lemon has also been proven to make you feel better about your appearance, including body image

Three cheers for the luscious scent of lemon!


#7: Frankincense

In days gone by, frankincense was considered to be even more precious than gold in many cultures around the world. 

And still today, frankincense oil is worth its weight in gold. It's… 

  • Woody
  • Earthy
  • Spicy 

… scent is coveted for a wide variety of uses, including … 

  • Postpartum recovery
  • Fighting bacteria
  • Relieving stress; and
  • Promoting relaxation

Frankincense is derived from the gummy sap that oozes from the bark of the Boswellia tree, which can be found in parts of the Arabian Peninsula and northeast Africa.

Once the sap has hardened into resin, it’s scraped off the bark and steam-distilled into essential oil form. 

Frankincense was so precious in the ancient Middle Eastern economy that it brought about advances in shipbuilding technology, the use of camels for transport, and the development of written language — just to enhance and enable the trade of this highly-valued commodity.


#8: Vetiver

Smoky. Earthy. Grounding. Sensuous. 

Fresh leather. Dry grass on a summer day. Warm, damp soil.

The smell of vetiver conjures a multitude of descriptions. 

Vetiver’s unique scent comes from the vetiver plant, a five-foot-high, green, clumpy grass that’s native to India.

Nicknamed “the oil of tranquility,” vetiver is famous for:

  • Calming anxiety
  • Providing focus
  • Boosting brain function
  • Fighting insomnia
  • Relieving fatigue; and
  • Easing depression


what does sandalwood smell like


Experience the Sumptuous Scent of Sandalwood With Aromasthesia’s Labetalol Candle

You can't go wrong with Sandalwood. That’s why I created my Labetalol candle.

This relaxing blend of sandalwood with under notes of lavender, bergamot, and musk is perfect for humans in need of a little repose. Just strike a match, light the wick, and after a couple of deep inhales you’ll find your brain and body immersed in chill, without a care in the world. 

Like all of my long-lasting luxury candles, Labetalol is triple-scented and crafted from … 

  • A proprietary soy wax; and
  • The highest quality essential oils and natural fragrances


Looking for More Woodsy Scents? Get Aromasthesia’s Earthy/Woodsy Scents 4-Pack!

And since I know you love options, you can either purchase this amazing scent on its own — or live your best life (and enjoy FREE shipping) when you order the exclusive 4-pack of my favorite earthy/woodsy scents, including:

  • Labetalol: Sandalwood, lavender, bergamot, and musk
  • Succinylcholine “Sux:” Spiced lavender, teak wood, and savasana pose
  • Lorazepam: Patchouli, jasmine, and amber
  • Sevoflurane: Mango, dragon fruit and papaya

Each one of my Aromasthesia candles is made right here in the good ‘ole USA, and a portion of your purchase helps provide support to victims of domestic violence through The Family Place.


sandalwood smell like