What Does Frankincense Smell Like?

Exploring the Aromatic Mystique

The captivating scent of frankincense has been revered for centuries, used in ancient rituals, traditional medicine, and perfumery. But what does frankincense smell like, and why is its aroma so alluring? In this blog post, we’ll explore the mystique surrounding the scent of frankincense essential oil, its different types, and how it can be blended with other essential oils for unique and therapeutic effects.

Key Takeaways

  • Frankincense essential oil has a sophisticated aroma composed of earthy, woody and sweet notes with numerous benefits.

  • Different types of frankincense have their own unique scent profiles, such as Boswellia Carterii’s captivating scent or Boswellia Serrata’s balsamic and woodsy notes.

  • Frankincense is highly sought after for its calming properties in aromatherapy to reduce stress and improve mood.

The Aroma of Frankincense Essential Oil

What Does Frankincense Smell Like

The scent of pure frankincense essential oil is a sophisticated combination of earthy, woody, and sweet notes, creating an unprecedented and mesmerizing aroma. This enchanting fragrance is derived from the resin of the Boswellia sacra tree, carefully distilled to preserve its unique characteristics. The rich bouquet of frankincense oil is comprised of pine, lemon, and woody notes, making it a truly unique and captivating scent.

When applied to the skin, frankincense oil offers various benefits, such as reducing wrinkles and fine lines, promoting cellular regeneration, and protecting against photoaging. The healing and rejuvenating properties of frankincense oil make it a popular ingredient in skincare products, as well as a sought-after essential oil for aromatherapy.

Earthy and Woody Notes

Frankincense essential oil’s grounding and calming effects come from its earthy and woody notes. These qualities make it a popular choice for meditation and relaxation practices, as it helps to promote deeper and slower breathing, thus aiding in the relaxation of muscles. In addition, frankincense oil is believed to help achieve a state of mental tranquility, making it a favored component in religious ceremonies and premium incense.

One of the many frankincense benefits includes its respiratory advantages, as frankincense oil helps eliminate phlegm in the lungs and acts as an anti-inflammatory in the nasal passages. This makes it a valuable aid for those with allergies or asthma, providing relief and facilitating easier breathing.

Frankincense essential oil, with its earthy and woody aroma, is known to:

  • Ground the mind

  • Promote stability

  • Deepen the connection with the inner self and the divine

  • Enhance meditation practices.

Sweet Undertones

A warm and comforting element is imparted to the overall aroma of frankincense essential oil by its sweet undertones. This mellow sweetness adds a sense of serenity and relaxation when diffused, enhancing the fragrance’s calming properties. The scent of each variety of frankincense oil can vary, ranging from soft and sweet to bold and resinous, with some having sweet undertones and others exhibiting different aromatic profiles.

While not mentioned in the knowledge base, some studies suggest that frankincense essential oil may have potential in cancer treatment by affecting cancer cells. However, more research is needed to confirm these findings.

Frankincense oil, with its sweet undertones contributing to therapeutic properties, makes a valuable addition to any essential oil collection, including those with citrus oils and myrrh oil. If you’re looking to buy frankincense essential oil, you’re making a wise choice. In fact, when it comes to purchasing essential oils, frankincense essential oils are highly sought after for their numerous benefits.

Types of Frankincense and Their Scents

What Does Frankincense Smell Like

There are various types of frankincense, each derived from a distinct species of the Boswellia tree and possessing its own unique aroma. These types include:

  • Boswellia Carterii

  • Boswellia Sacra

  • Boswellia Serrata

  • Boswellia Frereana

We will explore the characteristics and distinct scents of each type in the following sections.

Boswellia Carterii

Boswellia Carterii is known for its light, crisp aroma, typically associated with high-quality incense. Native to Africa, particularly Somalia, Yemen, and Oman, Boswellia Carterii thrives in arid woodlands and on steep, eroding slopes in mountainous regions. The resin of this species contains anti-inflammatory properties and boswellic acids, which possess anti-neoplastic properties and a characteristic odor when burned.

The association of Boswellia Carterii with high-quality incense can be attributed to the presence of boswellic acids, particularly AKBA, which are the active compounds responsible for its therapeutic properties. These compounds give Boswellia Carterii incense its unique aroma and beneficial effects, making it a highly valued essential oil for those seeking to experience the captivating scent of frankincense.

Boswellia Sacra

Boswellia Sacra, another species of the Boswellia tree, has a light, sweet floral scent that makes it a popular choice for perfumes and skincare products. Its distinctive aroma is characterized by a sweet, light, almost floral fragrance with a woody, spicy undertone. This captivating scent can refresh and “clear the air” both aromatically and energetically.

Known as frankincense or olibanum, Boswellia Sacra is used as a fragrance component in perfumery. Its warm, sweet, balsamic aroma, akin to a blend of soft vanilla and amber with a subtle hint of camphor, is frequently utilized in incense and perfumes due to its distinct and aromatic scent.

The slightly more pungent, woodsy aroma of Boswellia Sacra fragrant oil sets it apart from other types of frankincense oils.

Boswellia Serrata

Boswellia Serrata, another variety of frankincense, possesses a more robust, earthy aroma. Its distinct scent notes are described as being fresh-terpeney, green-lemon-like, and reminiscent of green, unripe apples. This earthy fragrance has been employed in traditional Ayurvedic medicine due to its balsamic and woodsy notes.

Using a process known as hydrodistillation, the scent of Boswellia Serrata is extracted by steam distilling the tree’s resin to capture the aromatic compounds. To ensure the preservation of the essential oil, it should be stored in dark, airtight containers away from heat and light.

The unique aroma and properties of Boswellia Serrata make it an intriguing addition to any essential oil collection.

Boswellia Frereana

Boswellia Frereana, often referred to as the “King of Frankincense oils,” possesses a woody and lemony scent. This essential oil is highly valued for its therapeutic properties, including calming and encouraging effects, skin healing properties for acne and scarring, and antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties for skin health.

The essential oil of Boswellia Frereana is obtained through hydrodistillation, a process that involves making incisions in the tree trunks to collect the resin, which is then subjected to steam distillation. Regularly employed in aromatherapy and traditional Ayurvedic medicine, Boswellia Frereana offers a range of health benefits, making it a prized essential oil for those seeking to experience the enchanting scent of frankincense.

Blending Frankincense with Other Essential Oils

What Does Frankincense Smell Like

Frankincense oil can be blended with various essential oils to create distinct fragrances and augment its therapeutic advantages. By experimenting with different combinations, you can enhance the benefits of frankincense and create personalized blends for specific purposes, such as focus and relaxation.

Further ahead, we’ll examine some popular blends incorporating frankincense oil.

Focus: Peppermint Essential Oil & Rosemary Essential Oil

Combining frankincense with peppermint and rosemary essential oils can stimulate mental capacity, improve concentration, and enhance mental clarity. Frankincense complements the invigorating effects of peppermint on the brain, while rosemary heightens focus. Together, these oils create a synergistic blend that promotes mental lucidity and relaxation.

A typical blend recipe for focus consists of 3 drops of rosemary, 2 drops of frankincense, and 2 drops of peppermint essential oil. This invigorating blend can be diffused or applied topically to experience its cognitive-enhancing effects. Experiment with different proportions to find the perfect combination that works best for you.

De-Stress: Lavender Essential oil & Ylang Ylang Essential Oil

To de-stress and promote relaxation, combine frankincense with lavender and ylang-ylang essential oils. Lavender is widely known for its calming effects, while ylang-ylang has been shown to provide relief from anxiety, enhance mood, and act as a powerful aphrodisiac. The unique combination of these oils with frankincense creates a soothing blend that promotes emotional well-being and relaxation.

A suggested proportion for a de-stressing blend is 2 drops of dilute frankincense essential oil to 4 drops of lavender essential oil. You can also experiment with adding ylang-ylang essential oil to this blend, adjusting the proportions to suit your personal preferences. Diffuse this blend or incorporate it into a body lotion or massage oil to experience its calming effects.

The Role of Frankincense's Scent in Aromatherapy

What Does Frankincense Smell Like

Frankincense scent plays a pivotal role in aromatherapy by helping individuals reduce stress, improve mood, and foster relaxation. Its calming properties assist in soothing a preoccupied mind and diminishing feelings of anxiety. The distinct aroma of frankincense essential oil can be diffused or applied topically to envelop the senses and create a serene atmosphere.

Apart from its calming effects, frankincense essential oil has also been observed to alleviate chronic stress and anxiety, diminish pain and inflammation, and enhance immunity. Its versatile scent and therapeutic properties make frankincense a valuable addition to any aromatherapy collection, offering a wide range of benefits to those who experience its enchanting aroma.

The History of Frankincense and Its Scent

What Does Frankincense Smell Like?, The History of Frankincense and Its Scent

Frankincense, with its captivating scent, has a long-standing history of use in religious ceremonies, medicine, and perfumery. The Egyptians employed it in their religious ceremonies and for embalming, while it was also used in Ancient Greece and Rome for medicinal purposes. During the Middle Ages, frankincense was one of the most valuable commodities in the world, exchanged along the Silk Route.

Frankincense oil is still in use for some religious ceremonies, and its diverse applications showcase the various frankincense oil uses. It is especially popular among Christianity, Catholicism, and Eastern Orthodox churches. Its historical significance and captivating scent demonstrate the enduring appeal of frankincense.

As we continue to explore the benefits and uses of frankincense essential oil, its rich history serves as a reminder of the timeless allure of this enchanting fragrance.

How to Experience the Scent of Frankincense Essential Oil

What Does Frankincense Smell Like

Several methods exist to experience the captivating scent of frankincense essential oil, including:

  • Adding a few drops to a diffuser or bracelet

  • Blending it into lotions or creams for topical application

  • Formulating serums and gels

  • Incorporating it into shower gels and bath bombs

When using frankincense oil on the skin, it is advised to perform a patch test prior to application and to ingest it only under medical supervision.

To experience the calming effects of frankincense oil, try adding a few drops to a hot bath or incorporating it into an oil diffuser or vaporizer. For a more restful sleep, consider blending frankincense oil with a carrier oil, such as coconut or jojoba oil, and incorporating it into a body lotion or diffuser before bedtime. With its versatile applications and enchanting aroma, frankincense essential oil offers a sensory experience that is both soothing and invigorating.


In summary, the unique and captivating scent of frankincense essential oil has been cherished for centuries, with numerous uses in religious ceremonies, medicine, and perfumery. Its earthy, woody, and sweet notes create a mesmerizing aroma that promotes relaxation, enhances mood, and provides a range of therapeutic benefits. Whether you’re seeking to improve focus, de-stress, or simply indulge in the enchanting scent of frankincense, this versatile essential oil offers a world of possibilities for those who dare to explore its mystical allure.

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens when you smell frankincense?

When inhaling the scent of frankincense, the calming and spiritual aroma can help reduce stress, promote relaxation, and even improve concentration and memory. Its mood-enhancing properties also make it a great tool for aromatherapy.

Does frankincense smell like patchouli?

Frankincense has pine-like notes similar to patchouli and copal, making it a fragrant addition to many perfumes.

What does myrrh smell like?

Myrrh has a balsamic, resinous, slightly spicy and smoky odor with notes of dried earth. Its fragrance is rich and complex.

What is frankincense essential oil good for?

Frankincense essential oil is known for its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, making it a valuable addition to any natural health regimen. It helps improve respiratory function, reduce stress levels, induce relaxation and improve skin health, tone and elasticity. Used in aromatherapy, it has a sweet, woody aroma that enhances mood and diminishes feelings of stress and anxiety.

What are the main notes in the scent of frankincense essential oil?

Frankincense essential oil has a complex fragrance with earthy, woody, and sweet notes.

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