Fake Agarwood chips
Sometimes you will be faced with a retailer who is trying to sell fake Agarwood chips for the price of real ones. There are special ways to make a low-quality Agarwood to look like the real deal. Some sly manufacturers inject the chips with resin to change their appearance and even the smell. If you are about to spend a significant amount of money on real Agarwood chips, you’ll need to know a few tricks to tell them apart from the fake ones.
Fake Agarwood chips
- The Smell
If you’ve ever smelled a real agarwood chip, you’ll never forget the experience. The real agarwood scent is woody with soft flowery and fruity notes. That’s why before going out to buy a large piece of agarwood, you need to make sure to smell the real thing. Otherwise, you might not be able to recognize a fake. Fake agarwood does not have a pronounced scent.
If the wood was injected with resin, you can recognize alcohol or chemical odor, since the injection is usually done with the assistance of methanol. If you have doubts about the smell of the agarwood chips, most likely you are dealing with a fake product.
- The Appearance
A natural agarwood chip should have pronounced black or brown veins where the resin was formed. One big chunk of agarwood can be partially covered with these veins on one side and have light wood on the other. The obvious sign of the natural agarwood is the unevenness of the veins. Cultivated agarwood will have deep symmetrical veins. Fake agarwood can have none at all.
Special attention should be paid to the color. The agarwood chips can be natural but might be taken from the uninfected part of the wood. Accordingly, they won’t have the desired qualities. The color of the natural resin is black or dark brown.
- The Heating Test
One of the popular ways to tell the real agarwood chip apart from the fake one is to heat it up. Before buying a large amount of agarwood, ask the vendor for a small piece for testing. Don’t allow the wood to come in direct contact with fire. Put it on a spoon and heat the spoon up. The burning resin should be bubbling. The more bubbles there are, the higher the quality of the agarwood is.
Meanwhile, pay attention to the fragrance, especially, you were not sure about the genuine smell before. The heating will make the smell more apparent. So if you don’t feel a pronounced agarwood smell or the alcohol scent is getting more prominent, then the wood is either low-grade or fake.
- The Hole Test
The inoculation process of the agarwood usually involves drilling holes in the tree in order to infect them with fungi so the immune system starts working and producing the resin. The real agarwood chips will only have small holes naturally produced by the insects. So if you see unusually large holes in the chips, the tree was most likely artificially infected.
The Cheating Techniques
In order not to be fooled when purchasing agarwood chips, you need to know the main simple yet effective tricks some vendors use to sell you fake wood.
- Painting and covering with oil
Some sly vendors sell Bouya or other similar wood that looks close to agarwood. They paint it black or dark brown and cover it with natural agarwood oil. This oil will bubble during the heating test, however, the bubbles will be very small since the oil is rather costly and the amounts are minuscule. You can also break the chip in half and take a look at the color inside. If it’s significantly lighter than the surface, then the wood was painted.
- Making the Wood Seem Heavier
Since one of the distinctive features of genuine agarwood is its weight, the vendors might try tricks to make the fake wood seem heavier. They can insert foreign objects into the wood or soak it in water. The heating test will let you know if the wood is soaked. The breaking test (break the chip in half) will allow you to see if something was placed inside the wood.
Since the technologies are improving daily, more and more techniques are available to make the fake agarwood look and feel like the real one. So if you don’t deem yourself an agarwood expert and are planning to purchase a large amount of the product, your best bet would be to hire a specialist.