Most Aromatic Types of Wood (Best Smelling Fragrant Woods)

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One of the attractive features of most types of wood is the aroma that accompanies them. If you have ever taken a deep whiff of an empty cigar box, it should illustrate to you this aspect of wood and the appeal that it can have.

The most aromatic types of wood have different levels and types of aromas. Scent detection is a highly subjective part of our senses and our sense of smell varies from person to person. However, the odor of wood is one of the surprising reliable means of identifying particular types of wood.

Scent is a difficult thing to describe verbally or in writing. For a person who has not smelt a particular scent, it might be difficult to imagine it. However, some types of wood are so aromatic that the scent of such wood is like their signature. Prime examples of the most aromatic types of wood are several types of pine, eucalyptus, sandalwood, and rosewood.

Generally, what happens is the scent of freshly harvested or freshly cut aromatic woods will be prominent initially. Then, over time the odor begins to decline. Finally, the wood may have no discernable odor. However, you can restore the odor of highly aromatic woods by cutting or sanding them or exposing them to moisture.

Most Aromatic Types of Wood

Some types of wood are well-known for their aromas. As a woodworker, you will probably learn to identify specific types of wood by their aromas over the years. With this in mind, let us have a look at some most aromatic types of wood:

Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana)

Close-up of beautiful branch of Juniperus virginiana tree or Pencil Cedar

Also known as aromatic red cedar due to its clinging scent, it is one of the most prominent aromatic woods. Because of its strong odor, we use eastern red cedar to make closets and chests of drawers to keep moths at bay.

Spanish Cedar (Cedrela odorata)

Here is another wood that has a distinct odor. We use this wood to make cigar humidors. It has a heavy, distinctive odor that is difficult to describe. If you take a deep whiff of a cigar humidor, you understand what we are trying to say.

Incense Cedar (Calocedrus decurrens)

Again, here is a type of wood with a characteristic odor. We use incense cedar to make pencils. Therefore, if you think of the odor you get from sharpening pencils, you can get an idea of what incense cedar smells like.

Camphor (Cinnamomum camphora)

Camphor Tree (Cinnamomum camphora) (21810689684)
Image Credit: harum.koh from Kobe city, Japan via Creative Commons

We know camphor as a substance that serves as a decongestant and it has a heavy, overpowering scent. We associate the term camphor with the extract in the form of oil or crystals. But many of us do not realize that it is a type of wood.

Camphor gives off a very strong odor and has medicinal properties. It also helps to protect silver from tarnishing and serves to keep moths away.

Brazilian Rosewood (Dalbergia nigra)


Rosewoods are known for their rose-like scent, especially when we work them, and the odor fades away over time. The aroma of Brazilian rosewood is typical of most rosewoods.

Cocobolo (Dalbergia retusa)

Cocobolo is also a type of rosewood because it comes from the Dalbergia genus. The difference here is that it has a pleasant, spicy scent, and this wood plays a major role in the making of perfume.

Lignum Vitae (Guaiacum officinale)

This tree comes from Argentina, and here again, the extract of the lignum vitae tree goes to make perfumes.

Sandalwood (Pterocarpus santalinus)

tree trunk section of Pterocarpus santalinus, Red Sandalwood

Sandalwood needs no introduction. It is a rare form of wood from India. Sandalwood has an extremely strong odor that some find overbearing but others find pleasant and relaxing.

Aromatic Types of Firewood

Most firewood is quite fragrant.  But you may have noticed that different types of firewood smell different when burnt.

If you are using firewood for outside purposes, the aroma doesn’t matter so much. If you use it indoors in a fireplace, it’s nice to have firewood with a pleasant fragrance when burnt.

Here are some of the most aromatic types of firewood that you can get:

Birch Wood

Close up texture view river birch tree

You get different varieties of birch, and the trees are small to medium. You will find birch growing primarily in the northern region of the United States. It comes in various colors according to the species. You get white, grey, silver, and yellow birch, which belong to specific species.

You don’t have to be particular about the type of birch you buy. Ensure, however, that you get genuine birch.

Birch emits a sweet, subtle fragrance when burnt that you will enjoy experiencing in your home. Some people got to the extent of calling it natural incense because of the natural aroma while burning.

Although birch is a soft type of wood, it burns faster and more efficiently than many hardwoods. You would do well to use birch in the fireplaces of your home.


Applewood is one of the most typical forms of firewood that you can get. This wood is popular for smoking meats due to the fragrant aroma reminiscent of apples.

It is very common for people to pack applewood while going on a camping trip. Because apple wood is quite hard, it burns longer and more steadily than softwoods and many hardwoods. It is a favored choice for cooking, smoking, and barbecuing.

Cherry Wood

A black cherry tree (prunus serotina) full of unripe red berries

Cherry trees are smaller compared to many other fruit trees. Typically, a cherry tree may grow between 30 feet to 80 feet. You will find cherry among the easiest to cut and split if you cut your firewood. When you are splitting cherry for firewood, you will detect the fragrance coming from it.

Cherry wood has a soothing smell, unlike many other types of firewood. It burns steadily, but because it is so suitable for lumber, you may not find larger sections of wood for firewood.

Cherry wood is also good for smoking food. You have to be a bit cautious about storing it because it is prone to fungus and rot in moist areas.


Limber Pine (Pinus flexilis) cone on a tree in Craters Of The Moon

Pinewood is a great wood to burn indoors. It is a bit of a controversial type of firewood because of the creosote buildup.

Creosote is a residue that forms when burning wood. It is believed to be a toxic substance that causes eye irritation, respiratory issues, and may even cause cancer. However, many other types of hardwood produce more creosote than pinewood.

If you are concerned about creosote buildup while burning pine, you can burn it along with other hardwoods. You can also restrict creosote buildup by maintaining your chimney and using seasoned firewood.

Pinewood gives a pleasant, festive smell during cold winter days and its aroma can put you in good mood. We consider it as a romantic form of firewood, considering the good vibes it creates when burnt in a fireplace.

Cedar Wood

Incense cedar tree Calocedrus decurrens branch close up. Thuja cones branch pattern. Conifer seeds of cypress on green background close-up

Cedar is a common wood that you will easily find all across the United States. There are many species. Whatever type of cedar you use as firewood, you can be sure to get a classic, sweet smell that is characteristic of this type of firewood.

Most people will claim that cedarwood is their favorite smelling wood. Being softwood, cedar burns quickly and gives off great heat. It also contains oils that help to ignite it easily. It resists attacks by insects as well, making it viable to use outdoors for barbeques and food smoking.


In this post, we dealt with two aspects of wood aroma. Firstly, we talked about the aromas of lumber that we use for various woodworking purposes. The other aspect we discussed is the aroma you get from firewood.

Whichever wood you use for whatever purpose, it is useful to know about the various aromas you can expect from these woods. Particularly when you make gift items, it’s nice to present someone something in wood that smells nice that adds to the appeal.

We hope that you found this information useful and that you can select some great smelling types of wood for your next woodworking project.

Happy woodworking!