In this picture you can see three grades of wild Malaysian Agarwood. These three grades are the most popular for burning as incense. Hopefully this blog will give you a foundation to understand what to expect with each grade.
We grade our Agarwood based on oil and resin content. Please notice that the actual colour of the wood darkens with higher oil content and the dark marks are resin within the wood. The A grade may not have that many resinous trails within the wood but the wood itself is darker with oil content compared to wood that has not been inoculated. I can tell you that standard (Aqilaria) wood without any oil content will smell like a burning matchstick, nothing luxurious or heavenly about that scent at all! I would suggest A grade would be the lowest most accepted grade for incense burning aside from (improved) more on that later. A+ Grade is a happy medium for burning and will not break the bank. You will notice the colour of the wood is darker and more defined resinous trials within the wood. Half sinking grade has even more deeper and darker resonance trials within the wood. This means much more Agarwood scent when burning.
There are two higher grades than listed in here that of (sinking) and (soil) grade. Sinking great as you would expect would have much more resinous trials within the wood, in fact most to all of the wood will be darkened by resin. This grade will actually sink in water due to the high resin content as it’s name would suggest. Soil grade is extremely rare. Aqilaria wood that has been naturally inoculated has fallen as a branch from the tree and landed on the ground. Over time the wood tots away leaving only the resinous wood. Soil grade can be left untouched for a few hundred years before being found. Time treats Agarwood kindly, the scent will exceed any other in potency and aroma! Given enough time this soil grade will eventually fossilise, like Amber. This can also be used for incense…on special occasions of course!
On the flip side Grade B and below are generally powdered down to make incensed sticks or if it’s a particularly large or aesthetically pleasing piece it will be used for display purposes only. B grade can be burned as incense but the wood/ oil /resin ratio is so low that it would not make a particularly good session although you would be able to detect an Agarwood scent.
Due to the high expense of natural wild or even cultivated Agarwood there are other options on the market. (Improved) wood very popular in Asia and especially the Middle East. Using standard Aqilaria wood that has either been bathed in resin for a few weeks or has had resin pushed into the wood with high pressure. We offer (bathed improved). The recipe of resin the wood has been bathed with will ascertain it’s level of quality. A very low level improved wood will have ‘gaharu buaya’ or crocodile Agarwood (Aetoxylon) resin. This is miles cheaper than real awkward and isn’t really very appreciable when band although we do offer it for educational purposes! Crocodile Agarwood make nice sweet beads but should really be…only beads!