What Does Patchouli Smell Like?

Patchouli is a part of the mint family. It is one of the few mints not used in chewing gums but to create scents.

This is because it has a powerful musky scent. And so it is used as an essential oil or as a perfume throughout the world. It has quite a unique smell sometimes woody, sometimes sweet and sometimes spicy smell.

Well, this could be an issue if you are allergic to certain smells or flavours. No matter how pleasant and unique this additive might be, it sometimes can leave you sneezing.

So before you get into any such trouble, knowing about patchouli is beneficial. And here we are to help you know it better than ever.


Where Does Patchouli Come from?


So patchouli is an aromatic flowering plant from the mint family.

Scientifically known as Pogostemoncablin, its leaves are a rich source of essential oil often used in perfumes, cosmetics, candles and incense.

Initially, patchouli was largely cultivated just in Southern Asia. But with it’s rising popularity and demand it is now grown all over China, India and small parts of Western Africa.

It is a two to three feet plant with firm stem and small pale flowers. It is usually grown in hot environments. But strangely it does not really do well with direct sunlight.

However, it requires a lot of water but still survives and gets back to life after drought or intense summer. The flowers are usually seen by the end of autumn.

The patchouli flowers produce small seeds. These small seeds are again used for harvestings. Even cuttings from the mother plant can also be rooted in water for more patchouli plants.

The leaves and petals are used for making essential oils and aromatic substances.

It is also quite common indoor plant. Many gardens and home nurseries these days have started growing patchouli for its multiple health benefits. Growing patchouli in the USA seems quite a task unless you live in Florida or southern Texas.

If not lucky enough, don’t be upset. You can still have it through perfume or as an essential oil. This can likely make you curious about how patchouli really smells?

Get ready dear readers, we have it all for you. Read on and decode this amazing smell patchouli has.


Deconstructing Patchouli Smell

Deconstructing Patchouli Smell

Our researchers say patchouli has a natural earthly dense fragrance to it. It at first resembles the smell of dry granules of dark black mud.

Dark black mud is a mineral that smells spicy and cool at the same time. It is a healthy kind of dirt with animals tint to it. This is what you feel like as soon as you smell patchouli from a distance.

The bold and spicy patchouli makes you and the people around you think of black ink, but also hot earth at the same time. It resembles man’s creation and nature, giving you a complete vintage feel.

For a modern take in perfumes, patchouli can be a bit smokey sometimes. It resembles the scent of warm plums of leather smoke that diffuses with a meaty sweet signature fragrance.

To create the smoky scent, patchouli is used as a supporting agent to leather, guaiac and vanilla. The vanilla sweetness blends with the dense patchouli scent to create a mild sweet fragrance.

But if you love your scent with a fruity tint, patchouli can be that too. It’s dense and dark oils have rich purple hues like grapes, plums and berries. For fruity fragrance, brands like Prada combine it with dry cider wood and amber.

Overall we can surely say, patchouli is a modern mint with different smells when blended with different agents.


What Does Patchouli Mix Well With?

As mentioned above, patchouli is a pretty good cologne. It mixes well with different ingredients to create a unique fragrance.

Whether it is a spicy dense fragrance that resembles your personality or a fruity plum scent you want to gift your friend you will find patchouli combined with these mixing agents.




This is the ancient binding agent for strong and dense perfume. It smells earthy, woody, dry and leathery at times depending on the key ingredient of the perfume. It has a more masculine fragrance and hence is used in candles, colognes and other scented products when combined with patchouli.




Sandalwood is largely used as a base note when it is combined with patchouli. It creates a warm, sensual scent. It also gives a woody fragrance with patchouli, drier cedar and vetiver notes.




Frankincense is quite a powerful binding agent that goes well with patchouli. It is generally used in small proportion because of its dense fragrance. It also works well as a fixative to create mild scents from strong agents like patchouli.




Popularly known for its freshness, Bergamot has a quite sunny, sweet aroma with notes of tartness when combined with patchouli. It creates a floral aroma that is often used in colognes and candles.




Cedarwood has very warm properties. Aromatically cedarwood is spicy, deep and dark. But when combined with patchouli as a base note it creates a warm, sensual and rich fragrance.

Apart from these binding agents patchouli mixes well with Myrrh, Jasmine, Rose and Citrus oils. Sometimes earthy, sometimes fruity patchouli mixes well with these ingredients to create a unique scent like no other.


Why Does a Scent Smell Different on Different People?

Scent Smell Different

This is a unique property of scents. It smells different on different people and this is why many prefer customised perfumes over brands.

But why does a similar perfume you and your best friend use smells different on each one of you?

The reason behind it comes as a surprise. Body chemistry has everything to do with how scents smell on each individual.

So basically the pH balance of every individual’s body is different. Depending upon how dry or oily your skin is, and even the hormone level reacts with perfume you apply.

The diet you eat, the fabric you wear, your body temperature, your body lotion, your bathing soaps, your body oil, etc. contributes to the smell of the perfume you use.

If we look at it in more detail your body constantly diffuses by-product of the food or say in particular a cake you just ate. It is a sugary substance and it is pushed out through the pores on your skin.

When this comes in contact with the perfume, it is obvious that it interacts with the perfume concentration creating a unique fragrance.

So no matter how similar perfume you use it is going to smell different on different people.

Now the question arises how to choose the right perfume for yourself? Here are your answers.


The right way to pick the right perfume

pick the right perfume

So next time you are out there shopping for a new scent remember these things to pick a perfume that reflects your mood, nature and personality.

  • Do your research before heading to a store.
  • Make sure you are not wearing any of the body oil.
  • Also, avoid wearing any heavily fragrant body lotion.
  • Try it on your thicker skin and not just on strips.
  • Ask them if they can spray it on your forearm, wrist or elbow. It will help you get a clear idea.

Apart from these things, when you buy perfume think about your mood, lifestyle, and which scent you can more relate too. Also, having different perfumes for the day, and night works like a charm.

A light or floral smell will be more welcomed in a professional environment. While having a musky or dense earthy fragrance will be more situated to a night out than a day at work.

But by the end of the day, it’s an individual’s preferences. So pick the right one considering your mood, personality and nature.


FAQS About Patchouli

What smells similar to Patchouli?

Patchouli has a sweet-spicy smell that can’t be described as a single ingredient. It has often been described by the experts as having an intoxicating smell something similar to wet soil or musky earthy.

It is very strong and needs to be diluted before using it.


Does Patchouli smell bad?

It largely depends upon the form you smell it. Pure patchouli oil is quite strong and has a musky earthy odour. But when mixed with other essential oils like sandalwood, rose, and jasmine it produces calming fragrances.

And hence when used alone it has a bad smell that is not loved by all.


How do you neutralize patchouli smell?

When it comes to neutralizing smells, vanilla is a saviour. Just soak a rag in vanilla extract and place it in your room. It will absorb the strong smell of patchouli leaving light fragrance behind.

You can also dilute it with binding agents like sandalwood, rose or jasmine essential oils.


What was patchouli initially used for?

Patchouli was used initially for medical purpose, as an insect repellent and even as an ingredient in herbal teas. The use of patchouli was initiated by South Indian people named Tamil.


Final Note

A traditional South Asian Herb, Patchouli seems to have come a long way from medicinal use to a key ingredient in perfumes, candles and incense.

So whether you are looking for a dense earthy fragrance for your night at the club or a mild fruity fragrance for a day at work, patchouli works like a charm for all your moods.

You can consider having a customised perfume for yourself or get one available in the market with patchouli as the main ingredient to reflect your personality.