Oud oil is expensive, in fact, it is so exorbitantly priced that it is also called liquid gold. However, there is a valid explanation for why oud oil is so expensive. To understand the reasons behind the oud oils exorbitant price we need to delve into how it is sourced and manufactured.
Origins of Oud oil Oud oil comes from the agar tree that grows in the forests of Southeast Asia. The oil is sourced from the resin produced by these trees. The interesting fact is that the trees produce the resin, only when the wood becomes infected with mould – not any kind of mould, rather a specific species of mould. As the infection spreads through the tree, its pale coloured wood takes a darker hue, in reaction to the mould, while producing a dark, fragrant resin. The resin-infused wood is aromatic, rare and highly prized.
There are many factors that influence the aromatic properties of the wood, such as the place where a tree has grown, the extent of infection and the methods adopted for harvesting and processing the resin etc.
The older the infection the better the quality of resin that results in a more fragrant oil. A good time frame, that would result in good quality resin, is anywhere between 8-12 years. It takes that long for the tree to become fully infected and produce high-quality resin. So, you see, it is a long wait, before the resin can be sourced from a tree, in order to retrieve the oud oil.
Extraction of the oil The extraction process of the oud oil, from the resin, is not a quick procedure; it is quite long drawn and takes up to a few months. The method involves hydro-distillation and the whole process is carried out in different stages.
The first step involves chopping the infected wood into small chips, so it becomes easier to work with. Next, the agarwood chips are submerged under water. The wood is left to soak, in the water, for a few months. It is part of the curing process. Soaking the wood chips allows the resin to breakdown and it gets easier to extract the oil from the wood chips.
After the wood chips have soaked long enough, they are moved to a distillation unit. Here the chips are placed into boilers. The heat in the boilers causes the water in the wood to evaporate. The evaporated water with the resin in it is collected in a condensation unit and the oil extracted from it.
Also Read: 7 Benefits of the Truly Rare Agarwood Essential Oil
Demystifying the cost of oud oil The purest form of oud oil can cost upwards of $5,000/g. That is quite a steep price for just one gram of the fragrant oil. But then since it is so rare, and has such a distinct fragrance, it is worth the price.
Oud oil is obtained from rare agarwood trees. According to an estimation, only a minuscule number of trees, in the wild, become infected with the mould. Moreover, it is old trees that have the best quality resin. Since the trees are rare the price of the wood is high – sometimes selling at a price of $1,000/kg or even more. The cost of the raw product partially determines the cost of the finished product. Add to this the cost of distilling and bottling of the oil, and you will see why oud oil is so expensive.
There is another important fact that needs a mention here since it too determines the cost of the oud oil, and that is the quantity of oil extracted from the wood. The whole tedious process results in just a few grams of oil. This is what makes the oud oil so expensive.
Oud oil, not just a fragrance Oud oil has therapeutic benefits and is used to combat certain health conditions. Additionally, it is known to relieve stress and acts as a relaxation agent and is extensively used as an aromatherapy oil. It is also used in beauty products, including deodorants, soaps, cream and lotions.