Vetiver (Vetiveria zizanioides) is a grass found in many tropical countries. It is very known in India, Indonesia and Haiti. The grass is huge and easily grows higher then 1.5 meters. The most important part of the plant are its roots, which contain the essential oil. The strong roots reach up to 3 meters deep into the ground. Thus, hard work is required to harvest the plant.
The vetiver oil production
To harvest the roots, the entire plant has to be dug up. The roots are dried, cleaned and then soaked in preparation for steam distillation. During distillation the water phase separates from the oil phase, which can be decanted to obtain the pure essential oil. The oil has a very strong, earthy flavor profile. Approximately only 20 g of oil is obtained from 100 kg of roots. This explains the high price of vetiver oil on the market. The most important producer of vetiver oil with half of the world’s production is Haiti, where thousands of farmers are responsible for production.
The smell of vetiver oil
The scent of vetiver oil smells earthy, warm and woody. After a while the volatile parts of the oil evaporates and the oil smells lighter and more transparent. Perfumers working with this natural extract need to consider this dynamic. Besides vetiver oil, perfumers use acetylated vetiver oil and the aroma molecule vetiveryl acetate. These substances smell a bit different and allow different perfume creations. Vetiver oil is a base note and thus stays on the skin for a very long time. It helps to fixate more volatile substances and therefore makes them evaporate more slowly.
Vetiver oil in perfumes
Vetiver perfumes are very known in the world of perfumes. Many perfume brands offer a perfume containing vetiver oil, sometimes they even include the term vetiver in the perfume name. Inexpensive perfumes are often constructed with vetiveryl acetate, while more expensive perfumes contain pure vetiver oil. Sometime, both substances are mixed together to create special effects. Vetiver oil blends well with wood extracts, such as sandalwood oil, Amyris balsamifera oil or cedarwood oil.