What's in a (Fancy Scent) Name?

What’s That Smell?

WTF is petrichor anyway?

Some of you may know it as the scent of dust after rain. It’s one of those familiar smells that is hard to pinpoint. When you say you like the smell of rain, this is usually what your sniffer’s picking up. The word comes from the Greek words for ‘stone’ (petros) and ichor, which is what they called the blood of the gods. So congratulations, I guess you like bloody rock smell. But that’s not as romantic, is it?

We don’t have any petrichor-specific products (but we do have the fragrance, so should we??). There are plenty of scent notes in our offerings whose names are just as intriguing as petrichor, though. When I look at the list of our natural soap and shampoo bars, I see a lot of words that are just kind of assumed to be a certain scent. Oud: yeah, that’s probably a woodsy scent. Neroli: Probably fruity, maybe? Dragon’s Blood: yeah, I have no idea what that is, but it truly does just scream 'blood of dragon' when you take a whiff.

Read along to learn what the names of some of our fragrances are about, and some others that I had no idea about until doing this research.

Let’s start with Dragon’s Blood & Moonflower. Maybe my aroma ignorance is showing, but I have absolutely no idea what these two smell like. The names certainly sound good together, like maybe they should be a natural shampoo bar, a lotion, or even an awesome skull-shaped car freshener. But what exactly are they?

Dragon's Blood

Dragon’s blood is actually a resin that is procured from certain species of plant, one of them being Dracaena. According to Science Direct, for thousands of years it has been used as medicine, dye (for its deep reddish-orange pigment), and incense (for its earthy smell). This guide to planting moonflower tells us that it is a sweetly-scented vine bloom whose white petals only open at night, giving it the name. Another, more familiar name for it is the morning glory. Well, is it glorious in the morning or the moonlight? Make up your mind, flower! In any case, the two scents blend into a scent that can really only be described as… Dragon’s Blood and Moonflower. 


Moving on, it’s recently come up in the soap studio, also known as the "Weird Basement Where the Soap is Made™", that no one really knows what ‘oud’ is. We are planning to use it in our World Tree natural soap bar as part of what gives it that deep woodsy aroma. Oud (عود) is the Arabic word for the wood of the Agar tree in Southeast Asia. The wood itself is not where the scent comes from, though. This fascinating article on the history of oud tells us that when the tree is infected by a certain mold, it secretes a resin to fight off the infection. That is we get that woodsy smell from. Another fun fact from the article: it is also referred to as the Wood of Gods!


Witch’s Brew is one of our more popular natural soap scents. It is a truly intoxicating concoction of jasmine and neroli. Raise your hand if you know what neroli is. I can’t see you, but I assume "neroli" no one raised their hands. Like Moonflower, it also has a more well-known name: Orange Blossom. Yep, neroli is just what we call it to show you that we know our stuff. We fancy.

It’s a very versatile fragrance, which is why you’ll also find it in some of our other products like Halls of Valhalla and our Four Florals Fall 2023 edition. I consider Witch’s Brew a favorite of mine because of its calming nature. You can grab it in multiple forms, including a solid cologne tin, a shampoo, a facial soap, and even a candle if you really love the scent!

Amber and Ambergris

There’s confusion in the fragrance world between amber and ambergris. Amber is one of those ‘it smells like the idea of the name’ scents. What you are smelling is not actually the orange, dino-DNA preservative that you think of. The actual scent of ‘Amber’ is usually notes of vanilla, and various wood resins and oils. We use a blend called 'Egyptian Amber in our Copper Dragon Egg Hand Soap, which is a combination of musk, vanilla, sandalwood, and patchouli that is uniquely invigorating. 

Ambergris sounds like a generic brand of natural oven cleaner, but it’s so much more interesting than that. The name means ‘grey amber’ in French, and is called that because of its color and how rare and valuable it is. The Catalina Island Marine Institute gives us a detailed view of the substance, but here are the main points:

When first formed, ambergris is actually a sticky, black substance. As it dries and hardens, it begins to turn its signature grey color, and its scent becomes more akin to an earthy alcohol. Before this, the smell is very much oceanic, and actually has notes of (checks notes) fecal matter? This is because ambergris is a substance that sperm whales create in their digestive systems to make it easier to pass larger, sharper things like squid beaks. And then it... comes out.

There’s an ice breaker for your next party. You’re welcome.

Smell Ya Later?

In doing the research into the names of some of the popular Birds of Valhalla scents, I of course found out about a few that, despite not being used currently, would definitely fit our vibe. Future products, maybe?

I’ve heard the word vetiver before, and it’s one of those words that would be a really nice name if it wasn’t a word. You know, like Apple, or X Æ A-12. The word comes from the Tamil word வெட்டிவேர் (veṭṭivēr), which translates to ‘a root that has been dug up’. The Latin is Chrysopogon zizanioides which is another awesome baby name. An article from Healthline cites several studies into the benefits of the oil. As an ingredient in skincare products, it has an antiseptic quality for treating sores and acne. One of the studies looks at vetiver's use in improving focus and reducing mental fatigue, which, yes please!

Because it is a bunch grass, it is often used to keep soil from eroding and keeping unwanted pests out of crop fields. The scent is what you would expect from that description: woodsy, grassy, smoky, and earthy. I’ve heard from a little birdie that there might be a new car freshener in the works named Touch Grass… maybe vetiver will soon be part of the Birds of Valhalla Natural Soap Olfactory Arsenal?


Now Your Nose Knows

Our plethora of essential oils is confusing for those who aren’t in the know. There are hundreds of bottles and jars in the studio. It kind of looks like a fantasy potion shop. We have countless combinations that we could offer you in natural soap and other products, and now you know just a tiny fraction of what they are and where they come from. Now, we want to hear what you think!

Do you want a Touch Grass product? Tired of waiting and want the Petrichor fragrance? Let us know! Leave us a comment with your idea, and maybe we’ll take it into consideration for the future! OH, and each comment is entered into a drawing for $50 store credit so don’t be shy! 

Thank you so much for reading. We’ll be back in two week with more weird facts, and we hope to catch you there!

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There’s a discontinued scent from bath and bodyworks that has vetiver and oud and black pepper and other stuff in it that I happened to snag years ago. I’ll have to grab it next time I’m at my old place so I can order a custom eventually.


I actually knew the essential oils but I did not know the word petrichor and I find myself intrigued. I do need to get an air freshener at some point. I pointed my family discord at the samplers and let them know that the one I pulled out of the nine soap variety pack in December isn’t quite gone yet! I’m trying! Especially because the lather is soooooo creamy and soft.


I would like to know the benefits of the soap? And does it irritate sensitive skin? I also want to know do you make shampoo bars and conditioner bars for hair? I came across your videos and I honestly was so drawn to your personality and videos the soaps look gorgeous and beautiful ❤️ maybe I would like to give one a try? Thank you very much 🙂


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