What Does Vetiver Smell Like?

Vetiver is common in everything from scented candles to perfume, but few people know what it smells like compared to other popular fragrances like vanilla or leather. Below, we explain what vetiver smells like and highlight four of our most well-loved candles that feature vetiver as part of their scent profiles.


What does vetiver smell like?

Vetiver comes from a plant called Chrysopogon zizanioides, a perennial grass native to India. This grass grows up to 1.5 meters (about five feet). It features tall stems and thin, rigid leaves. It’s related to other fragrant grasses such as lemon grass and citronella.

Vetiver smells dry, earthy, woody, leathery and smoky. Think of uncut grass on a warm day and you’ll have a rough idea of what vetiver smells like. Vetiver is considered to be a more masculine fragrance, and is used in candles, colognes and other scented products marketed to men.

When the plant is 18-24 months old, the roots are harvested to extract the fragrant essential oil used in candles, soaps, creams and other products. The plants are aged and then soaked in water. The vetiver oil is skimmed off the top. There is no synthetic version of vetiver essential oil due to its complex scent profile, which includes more than 100 components.

essence of vetiver grass

Vetiver is sometimes referred to as the “Oil of Tranquility” or “The Fragrance of the Soil” for its calming effects. Aromatherapy uses vetiver to boost immunity, reduce anxiety and promote mental clarity.

Vetiver does best in sandy loam or clay loam soil and climates that are tropical, subtropical or Mediterranean. Vetiver is indigenous to India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Malaysia. However, it’s also cultivated in other tropical regions around the world, including Guatemala, Honduras, Brazil, Argentina, Haiti, Jamaica, Belgian Congo, Africa, Indonesia, the Philippines, Japan, India, China and Australia.


What candles smell like vetiver?

While you may not know it, some of your favorite candles probably use vetiver as one of their fragrance notes. Below, we’ve rounded up some of our most popular scents that feature vetiver as a main note.


Dallas Candle

This leather and smoke candle captures the scent of one of the biggest cities in the Lone Star State and the country. The base scent combines vetiver, frankincense and oakmoss for an earthy, spicy aroma. The smoke notes give a nod to Texas’ famous barbecue scene, while the cedar fragrance calls to mind the piney forests that cover huge swathes of the state. Grapefruit and bergamot add a light, citrusy top note that cleanses the palate, while leather and nutmeg help round out the scent profile.

washington dc homesick candle


Washington D.C. Candle

Cherry blossom season in Washington D.C. peaks in late March and early April, but you can relive it year-round with our cherry blossom candle. Cherry blossom is far from the only scent note in this candle. We also took inspiration from the classic stone buildings of the National Mall and the leather-bound books in the Library of Congress. Base notes of moss, amber and musk mix with cedarwood, vetiver and sandalwood. The entire scent profile is topped with a sprinkling of zesty orange to finish off the fragrance.


Alaska Candle

Visit the largest state in the union without ever leaving home with our Alaska candle. We took inspiration from the Last Frontier with hints of mountain spruce mixed with winter snow and glacial accents. The base of vetiver, amber and musk anchors the fragrance profile for the perfect mix of earthiness and sweetness. Our spruce candle also incorporates tones of forest moss and hints of crisp winter air, as well as finishing notes of peppermint and spearmint.


Nebraska Candle

This strong, masculine candle scent captures the Cornhusker State with notes of rich football leather, fresh cut hay and rolling thunderstorms. Spicy tonka bean blends together with vetiver and amber for an appealing base fragrance, while notes of jasmine and cedarwood help round out the scent profile. Orange and bergamot finish off the scent profile for a refreshing conclusion that’s almost as invigorating as the wide open spaces of Nebraska.

Vetiver is far from the only candle fragrance. If you would like to see what other candles we offer, browse our collections of scented candles based on states and cities. We also offer multiple scents–including those that smell like vetiver–in reed diffusers if you’re looking for a flame-free option.