Vetiver: Its Fragrant Magic and Mystery Within Perfumery

Vetiver, which is also known as Vetivert and Khus-khus grass in its native Western and Northern India, is a perennial grass, the roots of which contain an oil that is often used in everything from scented candles to perfumery.

Vetiver derives from a plant called Chrysopogon zizanioides, which is a member of the same sector of the grass family as maize, sorghum, sugar cane and lemongrass.

Sometimes known as the Oil of Tranquility or The Fragrance of The Soil, these monikers refer to its grounding and balancing properties, which when used in aromatherapy, also serve to boost immunity, reduce anxiety and promote mental clarity.

Vetiver And Lemons

Vetiver is an ancient plant with a long and colorful history and it is one of the oldest plants on earth.

The name comes from a Tamil word meaning, root that is dug up and grows in wild profusion in marshes and riverbanks where there is a high annual rainfall.

Besides India, this includes areas of the world such as: Brazil, Malaysia and the West Indies.

Its uses have always been manifold and they include: the making of perfumes, soaps, cosmetics and even sorbet flavoring.

The essential oil, which is resinous, deep, earthy and passionate-has been used since the time of Babylonian Empire (1792-1750 BCE) where gardens of vetiver flourished along with other essential oils that were used in aromatherapy.

Vetiver Fragrance Scent

It wasn’t, however, until the the ninth century when Arabs invented the steam distillation process that the natural extract revealing the unique aroma of vetiver was fully realized.

Since the Middle Ages, vetiver oil was most commonly used in scents.

As early as the 12th century, the essential oil obtained from its roots were well known around the world for their soothing and uplifting properties.

In perfumery, vetiver is more popular today than it has ever been because it works so brilliantly as a fixative, and at least to date, there is no synthetic alternative of the fragrance.

This is due largely to its complicated olfactory profile, which is comprised of more than 100 separate ingredients.

Vetiver Olfactory Profile

Vetiver is used extensively by our perfume masters at Alpha Aromatics, who have been both pioneers and leaders in the industry since the 1940s.

It is often featured in haute couture perfumes as a bottom note because its evaporation process from the skin takes a long time; an aspect known to insiders as “persistence.”

It is an excellent fixative in potpourris and related items because the essential oil improves with age.

Vetiver’s deep, smoky and woody aroma has long been associated with colognes, and it is a main ingredient in most modern fragrances, after-shaves and other scented products for men.

Vetiver’s root systems exude a haunting, intense and lingering aroma that is reminiscent of creamy sandalwood, and its essential oil is found in 90% of all western perfumes.

In India, it is famous as Khus Attar, a traditionally concentrated masculine scent.

Vetiver is known for its massive root system, which unlike other grasses, spreads downwards instead of out, like a mat.

Vetiver Use In Perfumery

Some vetiver grass bunches have roots that extend as deeply as 12-feet into the ground.

The plant is known to grow as tall as 6-feet with towering stems, slender, stiff leaves and brown flowers tinged with tones of purple.

A Few Interesting Facts About Vetiver

Vetiver Oil Has Many Uses In Industry

In addition to being indispensable to our perfumers at Alpha Aromatics by providing unforgettable scents to after-shave lotions, bubble bath products, and home air fresheners, vetiver is also found in the ingredient lists of many foods where it enhances the flavors and taste of other ingredients. 

Some of these include: ice cream, flavored syrups, incense, chewing tobacco, and soft drinks.

Vetiver And It’s Use In Chanel No 5

Coco Chanel’s request to her perfumer that her iconic perfume, Chanel No. 5, smell more like a “composition” rather than any single flower was fulfilled with the use of vetiver in its complex blend of aldehydes and florals, which included: romantic rose, sugary and narcotic ylang-ylang, intense jasmine, fragile lily-of-the valley and fruity iris coated over a warm, woody base of vetiver, sandalwood, noble vanilla, dark, warm amber and sensual, aromatic patchouli.

Vetiver Grass Is Used in Environmental Conservation

Flooding and landslides due to climate change are becoming more and more commonplace, and vetiver grass makes an excellent natural barrier for preventing soil erosion and soil loss. 

Due to the fact that its extensive root system grows straight down, vetiver grass creates a heavy curtain beneath the soil that traps sediment and impedes the movement of water.

Vetiver Essential Oil and Cosmetics

Used cosmetically or topically, vetiver essential oil is a very effective, hydrating, anti-aging moisturizer that firms, tightens, and protects skin against the harsh effects of stress and reduces wrinkles. 

Vetiver oil’s regenerative properties aid in the healing of wounds as well as the disappearance of scars, stretch marks, and acne. 

It also aids in burn relief when blended into a carrier oil such as coconut or olive oil. 

Its many applications include oils, gels, lotions, soaps, shampoos, sprays, perfumes, and candles.

The Vetiver Plant is Completely Non-Invasive

A clumping type of grass, there is no seeding out as there is in other grasses because the vetiver plant does not produce viable seeds.

Vetiver Is A Very Hardy Species Of Grass

Vetiver is compatible with and can thrive in all varieties of soil. 

It is resistant to disease and tolerant of drought and even fire. Its structure is capable of flourishing in temperatures as high as 50°C and as low as 10°C.

Vetiver Oil In Medicine

This grounding, calming, balancing, fresh, warm yet cooling, woody and earthy essential oil was a staple in the traditional medicine of ancient China. 

It was used as a treatment to soothe and replenish dry skin, balance the emotions, ease negativity and energize, calm and cool the body. 

Chinese physicians prescribed vetiver, which when used with meditation, was a means to restore “Yin” deficiencies, which were often associated with depression. 

Vetiver As a Cooling Agent

The dry roots of vetiver are used in evaporative coolers in India, and padding the interiors with the roots also serves to mitigate the odors caused by the growth of algae and microorganisms inside these coolers. 

Mats made by weaving vetiver roots and binding them with ropes or cords serve to cool rooms in a house during the unrelenting heat of summer. 

The mats are typically hung in doorways and windows where they function as curtains. Periodic spraying with water keeps them moist at all times. 

As hot air passes through the cold, wet roots, the curtains not only cool the ambient air, but also emit an alluring, warm and sensual fragrance to the room’s interior. 

Vetiver grass mats are also draped over cars to keep the heat at bay.

In addition to mats, awnings, roofs, rugs, baskets, animal fodder and bedding were often constructed using vetiver grass. 

To maintain cool temperatures for drinking water and to benefit from vetiver’s health-enhancing properties, the roots were often sewn into muslin sachets and kept inside water pots made of clay.

Vetiver As A Natural Extract

Ancient indigenous populations burned the roots of the vetiver plant as part of traditional ceremonies in the practice of Indian folk magic. 

They believed that the resulting smoke had the power to cleanse the body and refresh the mind.

Vetiver As An Integral Ingredient In Scented Products

Our teams are often asked to integrate vetiver within the perfume compositions we create for a wide variety of product segments and categories.

Alpha Aromatics Fragrance Bottles

The following represent some of our team’s recently-designed and favored vetiver inspirations.

Candle Manufacturers 

Beachwood Vetiver and Sea Spray Driftwood

This summery fantasy blend evokes soft, tropical breezes, emerald lagoons and sun-drenched white sands.

Candles infused with this enchanting fragrance awaken feelings of peace, warmth and serenity.

The eternal majesty of the sea comes to life with elements of sweet, milky coconut, exotic vetiver oil and salty sea air tinged with sharp, green eucalyptus, haunting and intense jasmine, sun-dried driftwood and savory seaweed.

Unisex Fragrances

Vetiver Bergamot

A redolent fruity bouquet, this unisex fragrance opens with a top note marked by facets of complex, refreshing and elegant bergamot, uplifting grapefruit, succulent orange and sparkling dewy melon. 

These aspects soon fold into a heart note streaming with elements of fresh, sugary and floral orange blossom, rich, buttery gardenia and musty, earthy and slightly sharp vetiver. 

Warm and woody-cedar wood, sensual musk, noble and lush vanilla and dark, potent and intoxicating patchouli complete this memorable scent.

Middle Eastern Type Fragrances

Agarwood Cardamom

This potent fragrance streams with elements of invigorating citrus that soon fade into a heart note brimming with aspects of sugary, piquant cardamom, spicy pepper and green, slightly pungent and balsamic vetiver. 

Base notes of warm, smoky oud, dark, honeyed amber, elegant vanilla, sweet, coconut-like tonka bean and creamy, aromatic sandalwood complete this evocative scent.

Deodorant Products

Sandalwood Citrus

This bold, masculine fragrance opens with citrus streams of lush orange, sharp lemon and fresh, clean lime. 

These aspects soon fold into a heart note spray streaming with woody, aromatic rosemary, intense and haunting jasmine and aromatic, rich and marginally pungent vetiver. 

This intoxicating fragrance finishes with base notes of creamy sandalwood, dry and earthy oak moss, sensual and earthy musk and warm, honeyed amber.

Pet Care Products

Natural Coconut Sandalwood

Redolent streams of fresh, fruity guava, milky coconut and succulent, waxy pineapple open this exotic fragrance that whispers of far away, tropical realms. 

These facets soon drift into a sensual heart note laden with aspects of sensual, savory and nutty sage and dry, soft and sweet vetiver. 

Base notes of buttery sandalwood and warm, woody, dry cedar wood round out this intense scent.

Why Choose Alpha Aromatics As Your Fragrance Designer?

We are an internationally renowned and family run company and were born during the trying aftermath of World War II. 

Our focus, which has remained unchanged ever since, has been to “build great scents that build great brands.” 

Located in suburban Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, our olfactory magic concerns our resolute ability to transform the vision of any enterprise into an unforgettable communion between products and consumers that is certain to attract and inspire traffic and induce brand loyalty.

Alpha Aromatics Lobby Logo

Our secret to our enduring success is no mystery at all. 

We showcase modern brands and help to build consumer loyalty both with the creation of our vast array of superior formulations and our compelling business strategy, which is unilaterally focused on meeting the dynamic needs of the global perfume industry marketplace.

Our unique synthetic, natural and designer fragrances are found in many personal care products, candles and diffusers, fragrances for home, odor neutralizers, private label brands, industrial air fresheners, household cleaning products and fine, customized perfumes.

Our continued success also derives from heavy investments in state-of-the-art scientific tools, and the laboratories in our expansive 85,000-square-foot Pittsburgh Technology Center, which are equipped with cutting edge scientific innovations.

Coupled with our need to always be the best we can be, the approval of our clients always determines our own level of satisfaction, whether they are large corporations or small enterprises.

Alpha Aromatics Leading Pefume Manufacturer

In Conclusion

Contact our teams today and discover what we can do for your company to integrate the fragrant, magical and mysterious qualities of vetiver into your product or product line!


Photo Credits: Pixabay and iStock

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