Your Bag
Enjoy 15% off + Free Shipping for orders above 70 USD

What Does Frankincense Smell Like? Understanding the Scent, Fragrance, Perfume and Benefits of Frankincense Oil

Disclaimer - The information provided in this blog, including any linked materials herein, is for informational purposes only and should not be considered a substitute for professional advice. For accurate and personalized recommendations, please consult with your specialists.


Frankincense is extracted from the resinous sap of the Boswellia tree, has a distinguished place in historical and cultural contexts spanning thousands of years. Renowned for its distinct, aromatic scent, frankincense is not just valued for its fragrance but also for its therapeutic properties.

Frankincense may offer numerous health benefits, including enhancing cognitive function and reducing stress. The properties of frankincense make it an excellent choice for crafting incense and other holistic health products. 

The unique scent of frankincense is at once grounding and elevating, making it a staple in perfumery and aromatherapy. 

In this article, we will learn in detail about frankincense oil, its unique aroma, properties of frankincense, frankincense benefits, and its uses. 

History of Frankincense

1. Origins and Trade

The historical significance of frankincense dates back to ancient civilizations where it was valued as much as gold for its uses in ritual and trade. Frankincense has been a valued commodity since ancient times, pivotal in trade routes across the Middle East, North Africa, and beyond.

It originated from the arid regions where Boswellia Sacra trees thrive, particularly in countries like Oman, Yemen, and Somalia. Once traded as one of the most valuable commodities in the world, frankincense continues to be highly prized in global markets. The resin was as precious as gems and spices, often traded for other luxury items.

In traditional medicine, frankincense has been used to treat everything from skin disorders to digestive issues due to its anti-inflammatory properties.

2. Religious and Cultural Significance

Frankincense has a rich history of use in spiritual traditions and healing practices across various cultures. Frankincense holds profound religious importance, used in spiritual and religious ceremonies to promote meditation and spiritual communication. In Christian tradition, it was one of the gifts offered by the three wise men to the newborn Jesus, symbolizing its high esteem. Similarly, it has been used in Islamic and Judaic rituals, underscoring its universal sacred appeal.

Scent of Frankincense 

Frankincense boasts a delightfully earthy aroma, enriched with musty pine notes alongside hint of citrus, peppery, and spicy undertones, complemented by a subtly smoky fragrance. The uplifting citrus scent of frankincense, which also carries a cool undertone, has contributed to its enduring popularity throughout the Middle East for millennia.

Pure frankincense emits a smoky rather than woody aroma, making it ideally suited for use in religious rituals. Its scent bears a resemblance to rosemary, characterized by a piney, sharp fragrance.

Being a natural product sourced from various types of Boswellia trees, the scent of frankincense can differ somewhat, akin to the nuanced variations in the flavor profiles of fine wines from different vintages. Local soil conditions and climatic variations can influence the fragrance of frankincense. However, despite these variables, the fundamental, distinctive aroma of frankincense consistently prevails.

Frankincense is a member of the amber fragrance family, evoking the rich and intense aroma often associated with burning incense. The frankincense scent profile is woody scent, earthy, and profound, with a spiritual essence that resonates deeply.

In the realm of home fragrances and luxury candles, frankincense transcends its traditional incense-like stereotype. It is instead employed to craft vibrant, uplifting, and compelling blends that are particularly enchanting during the holiday season.

The specific fragrance of frankincense can vary based on the quality and geographic source of the frankincense resin. Generally, it is characterized by:

  • A woody base
  • Earthy richness
  • Resinous depth
  • Warmth with a touch of sweetness
  • Delicate citrus highlights
  • Spicy, peppery nuances

Frankincense is often paired with its cousin myrrh, another resin-based scent known for its aromatic and earthy characteristics, derived from the Commiphora tree. While both frankincense and myrrh share historical ties to religious and spiritual uses, frankincense is typically perceived as sweeter and warmer, whereas myrrh leans towards a more earthy scent, bitter profile.

Components of Frankincense

1. Chemical Makeup

Frankincense oil contains several volatile compounds, including alpha-pinene, limonene, and myrcene, which contribute to its anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, and anxiolytic properties. These compounds are what give frankincense its characteristic scent and health benefits.

2. Extraction Process

The essential oil is typically extracted through steam distillation of the dry frankincense resin. This process involves heating the resin to release the aromatic vapor, which is then condensed back into liquid form. The quality of oil can depend greatly on the distillation technique and the age and storage conditions of the resin.

Benefits of Frankincense Oil

1. Anti-inflammatory Properties

Frankincense oil is highly regarded for its powerful anti-inflammatory effects, which can be attributed primarily to the presence of boswellic acids. These compounds are effective in reducing inflammation in various parts of the body, particularly in the joints and respiratory pathways.

This makes frankincense oil a valuable natural treatment for conditions like arthritis, asthma, and inflammatory bowel diseases. By inhibiting the production of key inflammatory molecules, it helps prevent the breakdown of cartilage tissue and soothes inflamed areas, providing relief from discomfort and enhancing mobility.

2. Immune System Support

Frankincense oil is believed to bolster the immune system. It has antiseptic and disinfectant qualities that help eliminate bacteria, viruses, and even fungi from the body. Applying it to wounds can protect them from tetanus and becoming septic, while its inhalation or diffusion can support the body’s internal defenses against colds and the flu.

3. Anxiolytic and Antidepressant Effects

The aroma of frankincense oil is powerful for mental health as it can induce feelings of peace, relaxation, and satisfaction. It helps to alleviate anxiety, anger, and stress, which contributes to a lowering of blood pressure and induces calm. These soothing effects are credited to the oil’s ability to stimulate the limbic system of the brain, which includes the hypothalamus, pineal gland, and pituitary gland.

4. Astringent Properties

Frankincense oil acts as a potent astringent, meaning it helps to protect skin cells. It can be used to help reduce acne blemishes, the appearance of large pores, prevent wrinkles, and it even helps lift and tighten skin to naturally slow signs of aging. The oil can be used anywhere where the skin becomes saggy, such as the abdomen, jowls, or under the eyes.

5. Improves Digestive Function

Frankincense oil is beneficial for the digestive system without any side effects. It speeds up the secretion of digestive enzymes, increases urination production, and relaxes the muscles of the digestive tract, which helps relieve symptoms associated with conditions like indigestion and stomach cramps. Furthermore, frankincense helps to detoxify the body and promotes healthy bowel movement, reducing the risk of various gastrointestinal conditions.

6. Enhances Respiratory Health

Frankincense oil is an expectorant with anti-inflammatory properties, making it a natural solution to unclog bronchial and nasal passages. People with respiratory disorders such as bronchitis, sinusitis, and asthma can benefit from inhaling or diffusing frankincense oil to alleviate congestion and make breathing easier. Its soothing effect also helps to relax breathing passages, reducing the risk of asthma attacks.

Different Ways to Use Frankincense Essential Oil

Frankincense has long been considered a key element in traditional medicine for its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. The enduring appeal of frankincense lies in its unique scent and versatility in various cultural and spiritual contexts. The uses of frankincense in modern times extend from religious practices to natural therapies for skin care and mental health. Following are some of the different uses of frankincense oil:

1. Aromatherapy

Frankincense oil is widely used in aromatherapy for its ability to promote feelings of peace and relaxation. You can:

  • Diffuse: Add a few drops of frankincense oil to a diffuser to help reduce stress and uplift your mood.
  • Inhalation: Directly inhale the oil from the bottle, or place a few drops on a cloth or tissue to carry around for occasional sniffing.

2. Topical Application

The sweet scent and therapeutic benefits of frankincense make it a favorite in both aromatherapy and personal wellness routines. Frankincense oil can be applied to the skin, but it should always be diluted with a carrier oil like coconut, jojoba, or almond oil to prevent skin irritation. Topical uses include:

  • Massage: Mix frankincense oil with a carrier oil and use it for massaging to relieve muscle pain, inflammation, and to boost immune function.
  • Skincare: Because of its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, it can be added to lotions or creams to help with acne, reduce the appearance of scars, and moisturize the skin.

3. Medicinal Uses

Frankincense oil has various health benefits and can be used to treat certain medical conditions:

  • Anti-inflammatory: It can help reduce joint inflammation caused by conditions like arthritis.
  • Respiratory support: The oil can be used to relieve congestion, clear nasal passages, and ease breathing.

4. Oral Care

Frankincense oil is sometimes included in oral hygiene products or routines due to its antibacterial properties. It can be used to:

  • Mouthwash: A drop of frankincense oil can be added to water to make an effective antimicrobial mouthwash that helps in maintaining oral health and hygiene.

5. Spiritual and Meditation Practices

The aromatic resin of frankincense has been used for centuries in religious ceremonies and healing practices due to its potent properties. Due to its historical and spiritual significance, frankincense oil is often used in meditation and spiritual practices. Frankincense is renowned for its calming and spiritual aroma, making it an essential component in meditation and prayer sessions:

  • Meditation aid: Diffusing frankincense oil during meditation can deepen the practice by promoting relaxation and mental clarity.
  • Spiritual rituals: Frankincense oil is used in various religious and spiritual rituals to cleanse spaces and as an offering.

Must Read: Spiritual Benefits of Frankincense Essential Oil

6. Baths

Adding a few drops of frankincense oil to a hot bath can create a spa-like, therapeutic experience that helps in soothing the skin and relaxing the mind.

7. Frankincense Candles

Using frankincense in candle making adds a warm, aromatic ambiance to any space, making it perfect for relaxation and meditation. Frankincense candles harness the calming properties of the oil, helping to reduce stress and enhance mental clarity when lit.

Burning a frankincense candle can purify the air, set a calming atmosphere, and aid in deeper meditation and relaxation. The soothing aroma also helps to decrease anxiety and promote a night of restful sleep.

Light a frankincense candle in your living space, bedroom, or during a bath to enjoy its soothing effects. Ensure the room is well-ventilated, and never leave a burning candle unattended.

8. Frankincense Perfume

Frankincense is widely used in perfumes and other scented products for its ability to provide a deep, enriching base note. Frankincense oil is a popular component in perfumery, known for its deep, resinous, and slightly citrusy scent that acts as a wonderful base note in many fragrances.

As a perfume, frankincense offers a unique and captivating scent that is both grounding and uplifting. It can also have a calming effect on the mind, making it more than just a pleasant fragrance but also a therapeutic one.

Apply a frankincense-based perfume to pulse points like wrists, behind the ears, and the base of the throat to enjoy its aromatic benefits throughout the day. It can be used alone or layered with other fragrances to create a more complex scent profile.


Frankincense was one of the treasured gifts in ancient trade routes, highly esteemed alongside gold and spices. Derived from the sap of the Boswellia tree, frankincense is a resin that has been valued for its aromatic and medicinal properties since ancient times. Frankincense is also a popular choice in skincare, used for its anti-inflammatory and healing benefits. The enchanting scent of frankincense is cherished worldwide, forming a core ingredient in many luxury fragrances. Frankincense is often used in aromatherapy to reduce anxiety and stress, owing to its sedative properties.

Frankincense has been revered for its use in religious ceremonies, helping to elevate spiritual experiences for millennia. 

A scent guide would describe frankincense as having a multifaceted profile, ideal for creating depth in perfumery and flavoring. While the fundamental character is consistent, the scent of frankincense can vary slightly depending on its botanical and geographic source. The overall aroma of frankincense is complex and layered, offering a palette of earthy, citrus, and spicy notes.

While using frankincense essential oil it is important to follow proper guidelines, like diluting it with any carrier oil for topical use. Also, it is important to purchase pure frankincense essential oil to ensure its safety and quality. High-quality frankincense essential oil yields the most efficacious aromatic and therapeutic properties, making sourcing crucial.

Frequently Asked Questions
2 Sources
Facebook Chat Messenger