What Does Sandalwood Smell Like?

Sandalwood is one of the most common candle scents, yet few people know what it smells like. This warm, smooth scent stands well on its own and also plays nicely with other fragrances as part of a more complex scent. Below, we explain what sandalwood smells like and what other fragrances go nicely with it. We also highlight several of our most popular sandalwood candle scents.

What is sandalwood?

Sandalwood is a type of tree that falls under the genus Santalum. The trees are slow-growing and produce a heavy, yellow, fine-grained aromatic wood that can retain its scent for decades. One of the most expensive woods in the world, the sandalwood tree can take 15 years or more before it’s ready to be harvested — the older the tree, the higher the quantity and quality of the oil it produces. While sandalwood originated in Southern India, now the plant has spread to other countries such as Indonesia, Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Hawaii, and Australia.

What does sandalwood smell like?

While sandalwood comes from a  tree, it’s not necessarily what you would think of as a “woodsy” scent. Sandalwood has its own distinct fragrance profile that is exotic, sweet, creamy, smooth, and warm. Once you smell sandalwood once, you’ll instantly recognize it for its unique fragrance. This appealing and versatile scent is why sandalwood makes an appearance in many fragrances, including candles, perfumes, colognes, soaps, and other scented products. Used with other fragrances, sandalwood forms an excellent base for more complex scents and adds nuance and warmth to the scent profile.

What other scents go well with sandalwood?

Sandalwood is a key member of the floral-oriental fragrance family and is often paired with white floral scents: orange blossom, jasmine, ylang-ylang, magnolia, gardenia, and tuberose. It’s also combined with other floral or citrusy fragrances to help stabilize their scent profiles and add longevity.

sandalwood essential oil on table

What are some examples of candle fragrances that include sandalwood?

Many of our top candle fragrances include sandalwood as one of the notes. Some of our most popular scented candles that use sandalwood are:

San Diego Candle

Close your eyes and be transported to America’s Finest City with our San Diego candle. Besides sandalwood, the base notes include patchouli, sea moss, tonka, and amber for a scent reminiscent of a warm day by the coast. Touches of sea air, jasmine, lavender, rosemary, and marine help round out the fragrance for a complex, refreshing scent.

Beach Cottage Candle

Relive a relaxing vacation by the seaside with our beach cottage candle. If you capture salty ocean air, hot sand, and afternoon thunderstorms in a candle this would be it. Sandalwood complements the base fragrances of cedarwood, tonka bean, amber, and musk. Fragrances of marina, beach, plumeria, and bergamot recall days by the ocean and evening walk along flower-lined streets.

Grand Canyon Candle

From our national parks collection, our Grand Canyon candle recalls dry heat bouncing off the vibrant orange and red sandstone of the largest canyon in the world. Warm sandalwood combines with redwood cedar, vanilla flower, lemon, wild petitgrain, rose hips, Italian bergamot, and white jasmine for a scent that captures the stark beauty of this national park.

colorado homesick candle

Colorado Candle

It seems like everyone wants to move to the Centennial State these days, and who wouldn’t? For this fragrance, we drew inspiration from this beautiful state’s spruce trees and melting snow. One of our popular cinnamon-scented candles, the Colorado Candle, combines sandalwood and spice with amber musk, cedarwood, marine, and snow for a scent that’s both warm and refreshing.

Maryland Candle

We needed a complex scent to capture the equally nuanced spirit of the Old Line State. Freshly shaved sandalwood holds together the base of tonka bean, vanilla, and musk. Meanwhile, notes of cinnamon, thyme, ginger, bay, cumin, and nutmeg recall the Old Bay spice that the state is famous for.

New Mexico Candle

This sweet and spicy candle recalls the warm desert air of New Mexico on a late summer night. Sandalwood mixes with cedarwood and musk to form the base scent, while clove and cactus add complexity to the fragrance. Touches of chili pepper, nutmeg, and bay finish off the candle scent for a woody-yet-spicy fragrance.

Sandalwood is an excellent scent that goes well with many other fragrances, and you can’t go wrong with any of our sandalwood candle scents.