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What Does Myrrh Smell Like?

Myrrh, similar to Frankincense, is perhaps best known in connection with spirituality, religion and, of course, the gifts of the three wise men.

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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 Does Myrrh Smell Like?
Commiphora myrrha is a tree in the Burseraceae family

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.

What Does Myrrh Smell Like?
Myrrh tree resin

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.

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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.

What Does Myrrh Smell Like?
Myrrh is commonly used as incense

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 smell like

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.

Final Thoughts

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!

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What Does Myrrh Smell Like

Selena Marc is a fragrance enthusiast, freelance writer, and dog mom living in Houston, Texas. When she's not writing about her favorite new perfumes, you can find her enjoying yoga or a morning hike.