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What does Frankincense smell like? | how to tell them apart
What does Frankincense smell like?

What does Frankincense smell like?

Since ancient history, Frankincense has been used as perfume and incense in spiritual ceremonies in churches and tombs throughout the world. Frankincense smell can differ from one tree species to another; factors such as geography, soil climate and even time of harvest affect plant biochemistry and aroma. However, in general, Frankincense could be described as aromatic, musty, resinous pine with notes of citrus and spice. Frankincense has long been considered a scent with calming and relaxing properties; it is often used to treat symptoms of irritation or anxiety.

Frankincense distinctive aromas

The four main types of Frankincense with distinctive aromas are

  • Boswellia Carterii 
  • Boswellia Sacra
  • Boswellia Neglecta
  • Boswellia Serrata

Boswellia Carterii Smell

Limonene is the primary component in most citrus oils. While Frankincense oils aren’t dominated by limonene, certain species do contain a significant amount. Boswellia Carterii has a 25-35% limonene content, giving it a deep resinous and citrus (lemon-lime ) smell.

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Boswellia Carterii resin

Boswellia Sacra Smell

The earthy balsamic aroma of Boswellia sacra comes from the naturally occurring alpha-pinene (37.3%).

Boswellia Neglecta Smell

The white and the black Boswellia Neglecta smell significantly different. The white begins resinous-green, piney with hints of peppermint. It smells dark and woody and hints of a campfire.


Boswellia Serrata Smell

Also known as Indian frankincense B. Serrata resins is distinct from that of other species. B. Serrata has a distinct spicy and heavy orange citrus aroma. It contains the highest amount of α-thujene – around 70%.


What does Frankincense smell like?You may know that Frankincense essential oil has a very particular smell: balsamic, earthy, sweet, honey-like and woody. The balsamic aroma comes from the naturally occurring alpha-pinene. It is one of those scents which you fall in love with as it fills your room or soaks into your skin and really lasts for hours. You feel cossetted by its warmth and comfort.

Boswellia Neglecta