What Does Cedarwood Smell Like?

What is Cedarwood?

Cedarwood, not shockingly, is the wood derived from a cedar tree. It’s oil has found uses throughout history, being used by the ancient Egyptians and many cultures as an insect repellent.

While there are only 4 types of true cedars: Cedrus atlantica, Cedrus brevifolia, Cedrus deodara, and Cedrus libani. Some trees referred to as cedars are in fact juniper trees, and are referred to as false cedars. However, both are evergreen conifers.

Key Takeaways:

  • Cedarwood has a warm, woody aroma with earthy undertones that provide a grounding effect.
  • The scent of Cedarwood has been used for centuries for its therapeutic benefits, such as promoting relaxation and reducing stress and anxiety.
  • Cedarwood is a versatile scent that can be incorporated into a variety of products, from candles and diffusers to skincare and haircare products, to enhance their fragrance and therapeutic properties.

True Cedars vs False Cedar

True cedars are in the Pine Family (or family Pinaceae) and in the genus Cedrus. Identifiable by their short leaves, and clusters of evergreen needles.

False cedars are in the coniferous family Cupressaceae, and fall into the following genera: Calocedrus, Chamaecyparis, Juniperus, and Thuja.

As both categories of cedars’ needles, bark, and wood are aromatic, it’s common to find materials from both false & true cedars used to make Cedarwood essential oils.

What is Cedarwood Essential Oil?

Cedarwood essential oil is the substance derived from the bark, berries, needles and leaves of cedar and false cedar, like juniper, pine or cypress botanical families.

Cedarwood essential oil has a characteristically woodsy scent, and is produced using three common methods:

  • Steam Distillation
  • Commercial (Pressure) Distillation
  • Oil or Alcohol Based Extraction

There is a long standing history of Cedarwood metaphysical properties, so it is not a shock that Cedarwood Essential Oil finds use in aromatherapy, and is said to carry antibacterial and fungicidal properties. It also finds commercial uses as a natural insect repellent, and to renew the smell of cedar furniture. 

Types of Cedarwood

True Cedars

As mentioned earlier, there are only 4 species of true cedars across our planet. Their species name often indicates where they originate from. 

Atlas Cedar (Cedrus Atlantica)

The Atlas cedar, or blue atlas cedar, is native to the Atlas mountains in northwestern Africa.  You can identify an Atlas Cedar by Its blue-green leaves that grow in clumps on its branches, and their brown-grey bark, the fissure as the tree matures. Cedarwood Atlas is also used for its benefits to aid breathing and helping to clear congestion. Fun Fact: an Atlas Cedar can be seen growing on the South Lawn of the White House.

Cyprian Cedar (Cedrus brevifolia)

The Cyprian cedar, or Yellow Cedar is endemic to the Mountainous regions covering Cyprus and Turkey and certain parts of Syria. The Cyprian Cedar is most notable for its tiny leaves on branches shorter than most other cedar species. Commonly mistaken for the similar Cedar of Lebanon, the Cyprian Cedar has smaller, rounded leaves, while the Cedar of Lebanon leaves are more elongated.

Deodar Cedar Tree (Cedrus Deodara)

Also known as the Himalayan cedar, the Deodar Cedar Tree is an evergreen conifer tree native to the Western Himalayas. They are pyramidal in shape as saplings and young trees, their wide-spread, swooping foliage flatten out as they mature. As an essential oil, it is usually sourced from India, and processed through steam distillation.

Cedar of Lebanon (Cedrus libani) 

Perhaps the most iconic species of the true cedars due its religious and historical significance, and its striking appearance, the Cedar of Lebanon rounds out our list. The Cedar of Lebanon is referenced many times in the bible, the epic of Gilgamesh, and other literature of ancient civilizations. 

These cedars are native to Lebanon and Syria and parts of Southwest Asia, and serve as symbols of strength and eternity, as well as cultural symbols, noticeably gracing the Lebanese flag.

Cedar of Lebanon trees are drought-tolerant, with trunks of hearty fine grain, resistant to decay, and are visibly distinguishable by their flat tops with branches stretching horizontally. They are cold-hardy, despite hailing from warm climates, and some are known to be able to live for over 1000 years.

False Cedars 

  • Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana)
  • Northern White Cedar (Thuja occidentalis)
  • Western Red Cedar (Thuja plicata)
  • Spanish Cedar (Cedrela Odorata)
  • Alaskan Yellow Cedar (Cupressus nootkatensis)
  • Incense Cedar (Calocedrus decurrens)

Cedarwood Uses

  • Cedarwood is used to make pencils.

  • Cedarwood is an effective natural insect repellent.

  • Some pet owners add drops of cedarwood essential oil to their pets’ flea baths, and as a non-toxic alternative to a flea-collar.

  • It is used as a strong base note for fragrances, which we will get into later.

  • Cedarwood finds uses in meditation. It is said its essential oils metaphysical properties include augmenting one’s connection to their spirituality.

Burning Cedarwood Benefits

Cedar is also referred to as arborvitae, or ‘Tree of Life’ in Latin. It has been used for purification, purification, and spiritual healing and protection for millenium.

Also revered as one of the four sacred medicines to the indigenous peoples of North America. It shares the classification alongside sweetgrass, sage, and tobacco.

Burning cedar wood is said to drive out negative energy, and act as a purifier. It is believed to cleanse the area in which it is burned, while emitting its pleasant scent. Burning cedar wood is also used to support body pain management.

Cedar Metaphysical Properties

Cedar is a type of wood that has been used for centuries for its strong and aromatic properties. In addition to its physical uses, cedar is also believed to have powerful metaphysical properties. Here are some of the most commonly recognized metaphysical properties of cedar:

  • Purification: Cedar is often used for purification purposes in various cultures. It is believed to have the power to cleanse negative energy and promote positive energy flow. Burning cedar incense or using cedarwood essential oil in a diffuser can help create a purifying atmosphere.

  • Protection: Cedar is also believed to have protective properties. It is often used in spiritual rituals and ceremonies to ward off negative energy and protect against evil spirits. Cedarwood can be worn as an amulet or talisman for protection.

  • Healing: Cedar is believed to have healing properties, both physically and emotionally. The aroma of cedar is believed to promote relaxation and reduce stress and anxiety. Cedarwood essential oil is often used in aromatherapy to promote relaxation and calmness.

  • Abundance: Cedar is also believed to attract abundance and prosperity. It is often used in spells or rituals to help manifest wealth and prosperity.

  • Grounding: Cedar is believed to have grounding properties, which can help bring a sense of stability and balance to the mind and body. It is often used in meditation and spiritual practices to promote inner peace and calmness.

What Does Cedarwood Smell Like?

And now for the daunting task of describing a scent. Unsurprising, and true to its name, cedarwood possesses a pleasant woodsy scent. Let’s dive a little deeper into the complexity of this fragrance.

Cedarwood’s camphoraceous, slightly balsamic undertones are a calming, soothing odor, with science to back up the claim. Cedrol, the alcohol found in the oils of cedar and other conifer trees, acts as a natural sedative.  

Personally, the scent of cedarwood oil reminds me of by-gone eras. It draws the memory of a waft of aftershave, or the smell of the discarded steamer trunk in my attic.  

Harkening memories of fresh cut pencil shavings, or forest-bathing deep in the autumn woods.

Enjoy its earthy aroma without having to leave the comfort of your home. Its sedative and calming attributes enhance sleep experiences, surrounding you with a warm glow of drowsiness.

What Scents Go Well With Cedarwood?

In the candlemaking world, Cedarwood is often used as a base note or mid note, serving as a bridge to compliment citrus, or floral fragrances. Its dry finish, and sweet, green undertones also pairs well with Juniper, Lavender and Bergamot, Ylang-Ylang & Frankincense.

You can find Cedarwood being used as a woody base note in typically classified “masculine” scent blends. Despite this, we find it to carry mild, earthy & soft notes. Cedarwood’s camphorous aura also pairs well with sandalwood’s smooth warmth.

Cedarwood Atlas is used commonly in beard oils, as it is high in sesquiterpenes, possessing astringent and skin-nourishing properties. Cedarwood Atlas blends well with other essential oils such as Juniper Berry, Lavender and Bergamot.

Cedarwood Himalayan carries an earthier, woodsy aroma, with hints of fruit and floral sweetness, and blends well with other woods. Give it a try with Sandalwood, Patchouli, Muhuhu and more.

Where to buy Cedarwood Scent?

Here at the Sojourn Company, you might detect varieties of cedarwood anchoring the scents of Cypress fig and Bergamot in our Canoe Lake candle, or rounding out the base notes of the Sandalwood-forward, Tahitian Bungalow candle.

The spectrum of Cedarwood essential and fragrance oils are some of our not so secret weapons, and we are excited for you to give them a try.

Interested in learning more about the uses and benefits of Cedarwood? Check out this video from Adam Barralet:

Cedarwood Scent: FAQs

  • Is cedarwood a good smell?

    Yes, cedarwood is a highly sought-after scent that is considered pleasant by many. Its warm, woody aroma has a soothing and grounding effect, making it a popular choice for aromatherapy and fragrance products.

  • Is cedarwood a masculine scent?

    While cedarwood is often associated with masculinity, it is not exclusively a masculine scent. Its versatile aroma can be enjoyed by anyone, regardless of gender.

  • What is cedarwood scent good for?

    Cedarwood scent has numerous therapeutic benefits, including promoting relaxation, reducing stress and anxiety, and aiding in sleep. It is also commonly used in skincare and haircare products due to its anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties.

  • How does cedarwood make you feel?

    Cedarwood has a calming effect that can help reduce stress and anxiety, promote relaxation, and aid in sleep. Its warm, grounding aroma can also provide a sense of stability and comfort.

  • What is the difference between sandalwood and cedarwood scent?

    Sandalwood has a sweeter, softer, and more exotic aroma compared to cedarwood, which has a warm, woody fragrance with earthy undertones. Sandalwood is also typically more expensive than cedarwood and is used more commonly in high-end fragrances and skincare products.