Common Scents: Vetiver

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Welcome to our series, Common Scents! Common Scents is a series of articles exploring the history of commonly used essential oils, and how they became so popular in modern day soap and cosmetic crafting; in this edition of Common Scents, we’ll take a look at vetiver. Revered by Indian culture and referred to in Sri Lanka as the “Oil of Tranquility”, vetiver’s unique scent and purported cooling, calming and medicinal properties have earned it quite a bit of respect.

Vetiver’s Roots 

Vetiver (c.zizanioides) is part of the genus Chrysopogon, family Poaceae, and is a grass-like plant native to parts of India, Indonesia and Sri Lanka. Vetiver is also cultivated in Reunion, the Comoro Islands, Japan, the Philippines, West Africa and South America. It is known by different names regionally; in Java, it is known as Akar Wangi or fragrant root. In India, it is known as Khus Khus, meaning aromatic root. In Sri Lanka, it is referred to as the Oil of Tranquility. The origin of the word vetiver is thought to come from the Tamil word vettiver.

Cultural Use 

In India, mats are woven from vetiver to help keep houses cool, due to the purported cooling properties of the herb. A similar approach is used in Africa, where vetiver is used to make roof thatches and rugs/floor mats.

Vetiver is used in Indian culture for its many supposed mental health benefits, as well as spiritual benefits. A few things that vetiver oil is used for include:

Relief of muscular aches

Fever reduction

Relief from pain attributed to arthritis

Used to combat fatigue

Used in the treatment of heat strokes

Relief from various joint disorders

Treatment of various skin issues

Used in the treatment of headahces

Along with the medicinal uses of vetiver, the Chinese also believed that the oil had the power to induce calmness, and awake the brain. They also believed that vetiver could calm angry and destructive thoughts and generally stabilize emotions.

It is important to note that the FDA has not approved Vetiver for use medicinally. The HSCG does not make or support any medicinal claims, and is providing this information for educational purposes only.

Vetiver oil is used in many fragrance blends.

Use in Modern Day 

Vetiver is considered a base note, and its scent is described as woodsy, warm, and earthy. Used alone, it is classified as a “masculine” scent. Using vetiver as a base in more complex fragrance blends is very easy to do, given its heavy, sweet aroma. Mixed with lavender, ylang ylang, cedarwood, oakmoss, rose, lemongrass, or sandalwood for example, vetiver lends depth and spice.

Final Thoughts 

Vetiver has a unique history and reputation for inducing the most desired of human conditions: tranquility. After the business of the holidays and overall craziness of day-to-day life, producing a soap or cosmetic using this aroma is sure to help your customers relax! Consider adding vetiver as the base to your fragrance blends to capture the scent of well-being and calm.

Vetiver blends well with rose and lavender; have you taken a look at the history behind these two popular oils? Check out the articles for both by visiting the following links!

Common Scents: Lavender:

Common Scents: Rose:

And for advice on fragrance blending in general, take a look at

A Penny For Your Thoughts...