Essential Oil Profile: Vetiver

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Common Name: Vet-i-ver. The word vetiver comes from the Tamil word which means "hatcheted up" which describes the way in which the roots are collected.

Latin Name: Vetiveria Zizanoides

Family: Gramineae. This is a grass family. The plants provide nutrients to the soil. Other well known members of this grass family are Lemongrass, Citronella and Palmarosa.

Other Common Names: Vetivert, Khus Khus name used in India, Aroma of Tranquility name used in Sri Lanka

Herbal/Folk Tradition: The roots or rootlets have been used in Indian households for centuries. The fibers of the grass are woven into aromatic mats that are used to sleep on. The vetiver roots are used to repel insects and are layered among the clothes. The root is used to make blinds and window screens necessary to shield the intense hot sun. The blinds are sprinkled with water throughout the day creating moist cool sweet breezes.

Country of Origin: Vetiver is native to India, Indonesia and Sri Lanka.

Description of the Plant: Vetiver is a tall tough wiry perennial grass with a straight stem, long narrow leaves and a complex lacework of underground white rootlets. The rootlets are spongy and fibrous. Vetiver thrives in rich marshy soil in a warm damp climate.

Part Used: The essential oil is obtained from 2 year old roots

Extraction Method: The essential oil is obtained by steam distillation from the roots. It is a labor intensive process. The roots are harvested by hand using a stout long handled pry bar or a heavy steel pronged fork. The roots are then washed, dried, chopped and soaked.

Description of Vetiver Essential Oil: Vetiver is an amber to dark brown viscous liquid with a syrupy consistency. This very plain humble plant possesses the most rich exotic complex aroma. The scent is sweet, earthy, woody, deep, mysterious, reminiscent of a damp forest floor or roots and wet soil. It is pungent, mellow, smooth and tenacious.

Primary Use: Vetiver is used extensively in Oriental perfumes and other perfumes as an excellent fixative and base note. It has a strong odor intensity so very little is needed in the formulation of a perfume. Vetiver complements the following essential oils: linaloe berry, lavender, patchouli, sandalwood, clary-sage, rose, jasmine and ylang-ylang.

Secondary Use: Vetiver essential oil is used in Holistic Aromatherapy. It is an extremely relaxing oil which helps the body and mind to release excess heat. The oil is considered non-toxic, non-irritant and non-sensitizing. The qualities of the oil are it is nourishing, uplifting, comforting, refreshing, restoring and grounding. In holistic aromatherapy vetiver essential oil is used for the following: headaches, heatstroke, fever, premenstrual tension, muscle aches, sprains, stiffness, rheumatism, insomnia, depression, stress, mental and physical exhaustion, muscle pain, extreme anxiety, flashbacks and hysteria. Vetiver is also used in skin care, cosmetics, massage and baths. It is beneficial for acne, cuts, eczema, dry skin, wounds, aging skin and irritated skin.

References: Temmen, Marie Scentsitivity Quarterly Journal of National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy Autumn 1997

McMahon, Christopher Aromatic Thymes Magazine Winter 1999

Lawless, Julia The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils Book 1995

Black Pearl Botanicals: offers Vetiver scented products such as: Bath Salts, Bath Oil, Perfume Oils and Massage Oil. We are continually adding new Bath Products. To view our current collection visit our webstore at

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