4 ways to identify real-fake Agarwood

How to identify agarwood

Agarwood – a unique and rare natural product – is increasingly popular for its great uses. However, because of its high value, the Agarwood market is increasingly fierce and there are countless counterfeit products to deceive consumers. There are different types of Agarwood on the market. Therefore, those who are interested in products from Agarwood should immediately pocket ways to identify fake Agarwood to avoid buying the wrong products with poor quality. Here are 4 ways to recognize and distinguish real-fake Agarwood, let’s learn with Thien Moc Huong.

1. What is Agarwood?

Agarwood is the fragrant rotten wood formed on the trunk of the Aquilaria tree. In the process of growing, the tree is injured by chipping insects, by weather, etc. The wood will secrete a layer of sap to protect and shield the wound. Gradually along with a combination of fungi and bacteria. The injured wood transforms into Agarwood – a wood containing a special essential oil.

Agarwood is a rare and valuable wood. People use Agarwood to create feng shui products, good for health. For example, Agarwood can be used for incense, agarwood bracelets, as well as for health benefits such as curing headaches, aches, stress, nausea, etc. Agarwood is also believed to bring good luck, attract fortune, and ward off evil spirits.

Because of the “miracle” uses plus rarity in quantities, the value of Agarwood is being pushed higher and higher. Many people take advantage of the opportunity of this market, producing and trading fake Agarwood products for profit. There have been many cases of losing money because of not knowing how to recognize Agarwood wood.

The typical agarwood consists of many types
The typical agarwood consists of many types

Read more: The origin of Agarwood? 5 USES and how to distinguish standard bass

2. Types of Agarwood are available on the market?

In the era of 4.0, everyone held a smartphone in their hand to browse for the products they wanted to buy. It only takes a few seconds to Google and you have all the information you need. For example, you want to buy a bracelet made of Agarwood. With just a click to find a product, a series of information appears. With a series of different prices such as 9$, 10$, 15$, etc. But there are places that sell agarwood at very high prices. So a question arises “Does cheap Agarwood really exist?” How to distinguish standard Agarwood?

2.1. Natural Agarwood

Agarwood is naturally born from the sap of the Aquilaria tree to heal wounds on the trunk. This resin causes wood molecules to change shape, color, and release the fragrance. Natural Agarwood has a high amount of oil so it will be heavy and completely submerged in water. Natural Agarwood will have clear wood grain, moderately dark color. Real Agarwood gives off a gentle scent and spreads in space. Natural Agarwood incense lasts a long time and will not be lost.

Natural Agarwood is very soft so it is difficult to process for mass production. Therefore, it is extremely rare and has a very high value. A natural Agarwood bracelet costs no less than a few thousand dollars. Some can be priced up to 30.000 – 40.000 US dollars. 

what is agarwood
Natural agarwood has a high price

2.2. Artificial Agarwood

Because natural Agarwood is very precious and has a very high value, there are few establishments trading this type of Agarwood. The main products on the market today are artificial Agarwood. This is a product from the Aquilaria tree grown and transplanted. It takes about 10-20 years for a new tree to be drilled for planting agarwood. After transplanting agarwood, it takes about 5 years to create agarwood.

However, not all trees can create agarwood, the success rate is very low. That is why artificial Agarwood is also very precious and has high value. Although artificial Agarwood is not as fragrant as natural Agarwood, it still brings a gentle scent.

nine-tailed fox agarwod bracelet
Artificial agarwood bracelet

2.3. Fake Agarwood – cheap Agarwood

This cheap Agarwood is impregnated with the same color as the real Agarwood, so the color is usually quite dark, shiny, and very attractive. The scent of this type is a strong artificial fragrance, not as gentle as real Agarwood, leaving it in the air for a long time, It will gradually lose its aroma. Even many types of fake Agarwood have quite a strong smell. They are quite light and spongy, not as heavy as real Agarwood. When being boiled in pure water, its color will fade dramatically because it contains a large number of artificial colors.

It is not difficult to come across ads that are rampant on social networks selling agarwood bracelets at super cheap prices. From 10$, 15$, 20$… While the price of natural agarwood is known for its “expensive” price. A “real” agarwood bracelet already costs more than 100$ depending on the size and type of agarwood (Ky Nam, agarwood, sunken agarwood, …). So does a bracelet that costs only a dozen of dollars make you bewildered?

A cheap agarwood bracelet, which always raises many doubts, Because the bracelet feels loose, dark. Fake agarwood already costs buyers a lot of money. Therefore, the fake agarwood bracelet is another type of product that deceives consumers. Cheap bracelets, which are made from wood sawdust, ordinary wood chips, plywood, and pressed wood material at a cheap price, are mass-produced by workers. The higher the number of productions is, the less capital is spent. They impregnated it with different fragrances and promoted the rings as real frankincense with the ability to spread the scent. A bracelet like that, sold for a few hundred, still brings them a very high profit.

3. How to identify real – fake Agarwood

The act of counterfeiting Agarwood is more and more popular and sophisticated, so we should equip ourselves with sufficient knowledge about agarwood as well as how to recognize fake Agarwood to buy quality products and avoid harm, to your own health. Here, Thien Moc Huong will suggest 4 simple ways to identify real and fake Agarwood.

3.1. How to identify agarwood: Observation

One of the ways to recognize Agarwood wood is by observing the surface of the wood. Real Agarwood bracelets always have true natural colors, not shiny. When you look closely, you will see oil veins lying along the wood fibers, the more veins, the more essential oil it contains. It feels heavy when you hold it.

Fake Agarwood is often impregnated with the scent of other woods, has a very dark brown or black color because the fake agarwood is dyed to resemble real agarwood, looks beautiful and shiny, so the oil on the wood can not be seen, unstable hand and lighter than the real one.

When you look closely, you will see oil veins lying along the wood fibers, the more veins, the more essential oil it contains
When you look closely, you will see oil veins lying along the wood fibers, the more veins, the more essential oil it contains

3.2. How to identify agarwood: Smell

You can also distinguish real Agarwood from fake by smelling it. Real Agarwood always has a subtle scent, not overpowering, but long-lasting and very pleasant. While the fake one will have a strong scent like perfume, sometimes it is unpleasant to smell. Real Agarwood often has a faint, gentle fragrance. Fake agarwood initially has a very strong smell when there is no temperature impact because it is impregnated with agarwood essential oil or chemical flavoring.

3.3. How to identify agarwood: Burning

In addition to smelling directly, you can burn a sample of Agarwood wood to smell the wood when burning because real Agarwood, when being burned directly, will give off a pleasant aroma and less smoke. Meanwhile, fake Agarwood is impregnated with chemicals, so when exposed to high temperatures, it will have a strong and unpleasant smell. It even causes eye irritation and difficulty breathing when inhaled.

3.4. Test with the electric furnace

Another way to identify the real Agarwood is to scrape it into powder. Put it in the electric furnace, then the scent will come out with less smoke when you smell it. This is the main method when people check agarwood compared to Ky Nam.

Currently, on the market, fake Agarwood appears a lot with a very sophisticatedly crafted appearance and is difficult to detect or distinguish from real agarwood. Therefore, you should find out the addresses that sell products from reputable and quality Agarwood. Thien Moc Huong is always proud to be a supplier of products from 100% natural Agarwood,  with exquisite craftsmanship from 35 years of experience.


There are some articles that suggest distinguishing the real agarwood bracelet by “Putting the bracelet in water and boiling it for 30 minutes, which ring makes the water yellow, brown is fake”. This is a mistake. Agarwood is really like a medicinal plant in traditional medicine, if it is boiled for a long time, it will certainly produce color, the colorant is agarwood oil mixed with oil resin secreted. Agarwood has many types of ways to distinguish. You need to choose the official and effective ways and do not believe in false information.

Read more: 12 things you have to know about agarwood benefits. Why agarwood is so expensive

Read more: Exploring feng shui meaning and definition in the life

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