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June 09, 2015 4 min read


Disclaimer: below are my experiences only, everyone might have different methods

There are several methods to do this, below are 2 basics one:

  • Through its appearance

(Evergreen Forest's cultivated agarwood for sustainable future)

Oil vein (resins, dark line around the wood) should be observable , not plain or solid colour)

  • Through scent

Pick one piece up and have a deep smell of it, if it has a sharp tangy, alcohol smell, chances are it was not a genuine one

If you are serious about buying it, ask for a sample to bring home or if not allow, buy a small piece to test:

  • Heat: do not burn directly, use a bar or spoon to contain the chip, place the spoon under fire or an incense burner then observe it: the more bubble you see from the burning resin, the better quality of the woodchip, AND at the same time, the fragrance should be noticeable


(the above image shows resin being heated, the shiny black surface was the oil in the wood, come out in high temperature and release nice fragrance )
Here is another image of a small woodchip with resin
Shiny resin after 10 minutes of heating at 180 degree
  • Boil, use a small cut, put into a boiling water (the amount of water should not be too much, roughly around 200 ml) if the water is no longer transparent ,chances are the wood has been tampered by chemical or dyed.
  • Allow the wood to dry, small a small cloth to wipe it to see any substance come out as the resin could be painted by deceivers.


A small wood chip was cut, good appearance with infected part 


Turn on the heat, bubble could be seen as the resin was brought to a boiling point. At this point, the agarwood fragrance is released. Different woodchip has different smell but in general if you have experienced with it before, you should be able to detect genuine from fake at the minimum level not to mention at grading them.

For a quicker way, please carry a mica plate and around for testing. It should not take more than 2 minutes with seller's sample.



For agarwood beads please click here


Cultivated or Natural chip?


There is no 100% answer on this unless bring it to the lab (best method, most accurate click here) which is quite costly. However, there is a technique you could use: pay attention to the "hole". Where does it come from? See below for side view

 Vertical view (internal infection)

Internal infection agarwood

The hole was drilled, initiating the creation of agarwood forming around the wound, hence the big hole. Why not small hole? It is possible to create but it is a harder work.


With cultivated, the infected wood will be created around its wound which is the hole, to protect its from outside attack. The hole was drilled, nailed by tools so it is quite a distinctive feature and could not be covered


natural wood chip

Wild woodchip ( in this case, it was from Nha Trang Vietnam), has multiple holes which are smaller in size, usually created by insects, ants ( PLEASE NOTE THIS IS A GENERAL GUIDE ONLY as if a seller wanted to cheat, he would do anything to cover his "products")

Below are some natural infected wood log in horizontal and vertical view, it is not possible with current inoculation technology to create these type of infection pattern (WILD AGARWOOD). 

Infected wood log agarwood


Generally, agarwood chips would be stored together and had quite consistent look. You can observe multiple pieces to see different type of holes. Cultivated woodchip has an average of several centimetres wide while the wild one has smaller hole and the size of wild chip is smaller as well.

Cultivated Agarwood Chip (big drilled holes, open-end) compared with below

Wild Sumatra Agarwood chip (compared the holes, smaller, caused by insects, or fungi)

You might have to scroll up to see the cultivated woodchip in the very first image (multiple pieces and holes size is larger than wild one)

Big size of wild agarwood is usually used for decor, figurine, multiple religious beads. The powder of it during producing process would be the material to make incenses, oil distillation. .

 The scent profile is also different, however, with this method, you need a bit of experience and a small piece to heat is needed. Testing on the spot is extremely difficult. 

To make even more challenging please look at the cultivated agarwood below, it is extremely hard to tell by just looking at it

Source: Agarwood forum

If the chips were collected above the hole or vertically cut, it is difficult to tell if these are cultivated wood.

I would like to show you side by side, wild vs cultivated

You could tell by just looking at the picture, on the left: wild and on the right: cultivated.

There is limited agarwood on that tree as it is the frame only. The tree was dead suffering multiple wound and unable to recover. Agarwood has been scrapped off (collected) from this tree leaving the frame.


Please click here for genuine agarwood chips


Finally, for a laugh only and to let you know many unscrupulous con-man sellers out there, please look at this "sinking" rock, wood, plastic grade

Credit: image from agarwoodforlife Instagram

. Do not simply use our talented skills to the wrong way Because, we will surely regret it . .

A photo posted by Agarwood For Life™ (@agarwoodforlife) on


sinking grade? Check open-end for woodchip. If it is solid, shake to see there is noise. Feel it. If it doubt, x-ray it.


lead agarwood

More sinking grade?

Read part 2 here


5 Responses

Syed Razool
Syed Razool

May 05, 2017

Very good information thanks


December 02, 2016

Good one !!!! Thanks, this article will certainly educate buyer about beads !


August 04, 2016

Thank you so much for sharing this…

bob jad
bob jad

February 11, 2016

good job, i am going to get a sample now


February 05, 2016

Thank you, very informative article !!! Your stuff is good too thank you again

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