The Truth of Agarwood
Agarwood (Aquilaria agallocha Roxb.) is a kind of oleoresin formed inside in the agarwood tree. Agarwood tree can live more than a thousand year, so some of the highest quality agarwood also has been formed for the same long period of time.
Agarwood tree can only found in Vietnam nowadays. Therefore, agarwoods only originate from Vietnam. (Other Southeast Asian countries havent been confirmed with the existence of agarwood tree.) Agarwood trees have been safe from extinction because of Vietnamese governments efforts to ban on trade of real agarwoods. Most of agarwoods in the market nowadays had exported from Vietnam before 1973. Therefore, real agarwoods are very rare throughout the world market.
It is no doubt that agarwood is a kind of highly precious and effective natural medicinal materials. Its preciousness has been presented in countless occasions in history, medicine, and religious books (including the Bible). Because it takes so long to form high quality agarwoods, the demand for agarwood is much greater than the supply. It results that most agarwoods and agarwood related products sold in the market are adulterated.
The process of distinguishing the genuine and fake agarwoods is very straightforward.
(1) The density of agarwood oleoresin is the most important factor to decide the grade of agarwood. In East Asia, the name of agarwood means the its ability to sink into the water (buoyancy) decides the quality.
(2) Agarwoods do not generate obvious fragrance before burning.
(3) Agarwoods is highly flammable. They create black smolder and oil burning while they are burning.
(4) While burning, agarwoods generate warm and rich fragrance and its regarded as the most beneficial fragrance available. According to Chinese medical books, its fragrance can get rid of bad chi just as well when inhaled as when one takes it internally. This feature magnifies the value of using A.A.R for fragrant purposes.
The most precious kind of A.A.R. is called Kanam in Korean. (Kanankoh in Japanese) It has been highly valued for its even better medical potency and elegant odor. The distinction between Kanam and common A.A.R. is that Kanams oleoresin is glutinous while A.A.R.s hard and solid. Therefore, small shreds of Kanam could be pinched and rolled into a ball.