Myrrh, similar to Frankincense, is perhaps best known in connection with spirituality, religion and, of course, the gifts of the three wise men.
This post may have affiliate links, meaning we earn a small commission on purchases through the links (at no extra cost to you). This does not change our opinion but does help support the site. Thank you!
At Christmas time, the references to myrrh are inescapable. In fact, myrrh been used in religious rites since Ancient Egyptian times. We’ve all heard of myrrh but what is it exactly and how does it smell?
What Is Myrrh?
Myrrh is a natural gum or resin harvested from Commiphora trees. The trees are native to Somalia, Oman, Yemen, Eritrea, and parts of Saudi Arabia.
The trees are small and thorny and myrrh is produced from bleeding their waxy sap. As it dries, the gum hardens into tears and the yellowish color darks as it ages.
What Does Myrrh Smell Like?
Myrrh is resinous with an aromatic amber woody and slight medicinal smell. It can range from bitter and astringent to warm and sweet. Similar to frankincense or pine, it’s a cooling scent.
The resin tends to have a smokier and sweeter smell than essential oils which distilled through steam and have a more medicinal quality.
Benefits of Myrrh
While myrrh is most known for its uses in Ancient Egyptian, Jewish, Christian, and Islamic religious ceremonies, its benefits have been used in traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicines and are now being scientifically tested.
Myrrh helps reduce swelling and inflammation and kills bacteria which leads to a number of applications. One of the most common is toothpaste, mouthwashes and skincare but it is also being tested for use for indigestion, pain reduction, and parasitic infections.
The Use of Myrrh in Perfumery
You might be familiar with myrrh as a ceremonial gift or holy object, but it is also common in perfumes. Myrrh is one of the oldest perfume ingredients in the world.But, does myrrh smell good?
Historical evidence suggests that myrrh has been in use for millennia, since at least 2500 BCE.
The Hebrew and Christian Bibles both attest that myrrh has been a perfume ingredient for that long. Exodus 30, for example, lists 500 shekels (an ancient Israeli weight measurement) of liquid myrrh as an ingredient in sacred anointing oil.
What does myrrh rose smell like? Myrrh’s warm, woody, odor makes it an excellent addition to a variety of perfumes, both for feminine and masculine wearers.
It all starts when manufacturers tap the tree and make small incisions to extract drops of gum. It’s possible to break down the gum and mix it into liquid, though frequently, modern perfumers steam-distill the gum to create myrrh essential oils.
Still, don’t assume myrrh is only for liturgical and mystical purposes. It is a valuable ingredient in a variety of modern perfumes, adding a warm, smoky twinge to many men’s perfumes.
If you’re interested in hitting the town with a unique scent that’s equal parts mystical and modern, spring for a myrrh scent.
Myrrh may seem like a scent that belongs to the days of yore, but behind that storied history is a perfume ingredient that stands the test of time.
In addition to its history as a valuable liturgical element–let’s face it, being part of Judaism’s sacred anointing oil is nothing to sniff at (no pun intended)–you can still find it on the shelves of your favorite fragrance vendor.
So what does frankincense and myrrh smell like? Go out, get some, and party like it’s 1999 BCE!