Featured Scent: What Does Cardamom Smell Like?

Nothing beats the feelings one might get while carrying a hot cup of coffee to work on a snowy day. You feel the warmth of the coffee cup through your wool gloves. The warmth travels through your whole body and gives you the jolt of energy needed to tackle the day. This is what cardamom smells like. 

The rich aroma of cardamom is sweet and spicy, with a pleasant hint of pepper. This comforting, seductive scent promises an energizing boost on those days when you need some extra motivation. 

If you are a fan of drinking chai tea lattes, using minty mouthwashes, or cooking with aromatic spices in the kitchen, then cardamom is the scent for you. 

What is Cardamom?

Cardamom (Eletarria cardamom) is in the Zingiberaceae family. This is the same botanical family as turmeric and ginger. The plant is commonly referred to as “green cardamom”. 

It's a large, perennial, green plant that grows between 2 to 5 meters high. The plant has rhizomes, which are a thick type of stem that produce white flowers with red veins, and capsule fruits. Inside each capsule is 10 - 20 aromatic, black seeds. Cardamom spice, also known as “the queen of spices” comes from these seeds. 

Cardamom grows best in tropical rainforests at medium altitude. It's native to India and Sri Lanka, but it also grows in Guatemala, Tanzania, Vietnam, and Cambodia. 

In Egyptian times, the precious scent was used in perfumery, incense trade, and as a way for people to freshen their breath. Supposedly, Cleopatra used cardamom perfume before her dates with Marc Antony. 

Falling below vanilla and saffron, cardamom happens to be the third most expensive spice because it requires a lot of work to produce. 

The beloved spice is used in Ayurvedic medicine, a traditional form of medicine that is practiced in India and other parts of Asia. It's also commonly used in Southeast Asian cooking — for example, cardamom is famously used to flavor chai, and is used in the delicious Indian dish, Masala curry. 

In the fragrance industry, cardamom brings a rich, seductive edge to perfumes, soaps, and, most importantly, candles! 

What Does Cardamom Smell Like?

The scent of cardamom is extremely aromatic, sweet, and spicy. The aroma is reminiscent of baking a crisp green apple pie. 

You pull the homemade dessert out  of the oven, cut a giant slice, and take a glorious bite of the warm dessert with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side. The beauty of this pie is that it’s sweet, but not too sweet. It has a slightly bitter aftertaste that lingers for just the right amount of time. 

The scent of cardamom can be described as:

  • Aromatic
  • Sweet
  • Spicy
  • Slightly peppery
  • Sometimes fresh and minty
  • Sometimes earthy and smokey

It’s important to note that different types of cardamom have different scents. 

Green cardamom (Eletarria cardamom) is fresh, minty, and similar to eucalyptus. It is typically used to add brightness to masculine scents, such as colognes. Depending on the drying technique, the color of green cardamom ranges from white, to green, to beige, to brown.

Black cardamom (Amomum subulatum) is  earthy, smokey, and soft. This variety of the aroma is typically used for more exotic blends. As a spice, black cardamom is used for savory dishes.  The color of this variation ranges from brown to black. 

Some think of cardamom as an exceptional “team player”, because it pairs well with citrus scents, woody scents, and sweet scents. In particular, cardamom matches wonderfully with bergamot, neroli, and petitgrain.

The scent of cardamom unlocks a feeling of deep mystery. You might think back to playing an intense round of Clue with the family late into the night. You grip a glass of red wine as you investigate signs of the murderer. You won’t remember who won the game, but you’ll remember the laughter shared while playing. 

The musky aroma is very popular in Eaux de Colognes. It’s used in perfumes for both women and men: 

  • Calvin Klein Ck One
  • By Kilian Intoxicated
  • Diptyque L’Autre
  • Azzaro The Most Wanted

Where Does The Cardamom Scent Come From?

In order to obtain cardamom oil, seeds go through an intense steam distillation process. 

Some of the chemicals responsible for the refreshing aroma of cardamom are cineole, terpinyl acetate, limonene, linalool, and linalyl acetate. 

Cardamom gets its fresh, spicy smell from the chemical cineole. This monoterpene is also a key scent in other aromatic plant oils like eucalyptus, bay, sage, and tea tree. 

The sweet and slightly earthy aroma of cardamom comes from the chemical terpinyl acetate. It is also found in pine oil. 

The scent also contains limonene, linalool, and linalyl acetate. These three chemicals are found in many other plant essential oils. Limonene has a citrus scent. Linalool and linalyl acetate are known for their fresh and slightly floral scents. 

Benefits of Cardamom In Aromatherapy

Cardamom could be revitalizing and even enhance learning and memory. In fact, exposure to cardamom given to pregnant mice even affected their offspring, granting them better memory. 

Additionally, cardamom is also known to help with stress, fatigue, and depression. A study conducted on rats showed that cardamom oil reduced oxidative stress in the brain. Scientists think the oil could be useful in treating Alzheimer's disease. 

A candle with cardamom is the perfect companion while exploring new skills and hobbies. Whether learning a new language, working on a detailed craft, or cooking a delectable recipe for dinner, this warm scent can guide you to greatness. 

Our Favorite Cardamom Candles

Cardamom is used as a spicy top note in two of our favorite luxury candles introduced in 2022: "Frederick" and "The Renaissance."    

Frederick

Inspired by Frederick Douglass, our Frederick candle pays loving tribute to a brave and charismatic man who passionately followed his dream of a world of freedom for all. 

Infused with fruits and botanicals, we’ve re-imagined the orangerie from Douglass’s childhood to include juicy bergamot, yuzu, and fresh green cardamom which sets the stage for a heart of vanilla orchid, cypress, and ginger blossom. A liberating base of suede, sandalwood and tonka bean add warmth and depth to this elegant and uplifting blend.

The Renaissance

The Harlem Renaissance was a cultural, social and artistic explosion that centered in Harlem in the 1920’s and 1930’s, pushing creative boundaries for self-expression to new and exciting heights. 

Bold yet delicate at once, The Renaissance pays homage to this thriving movement with an inspired mix of fresh tea leaves, sparkling yuzu, and cardamom gracefully leading to a velvet heart of tonka bean, heliotrope and wild orchid blossoms. Aromatic tobacco leaves, burnished suede and sheer musk bring a warm, sensual finish to this extraordinary blend.