Find Your Scent: What Does Clove Smell Like?

When you’re on the hunt for your signature scent, it’s important (and helpful) to know what ingredients you’re drawn to. That said, it can sometimes be hard to remember what each individual fragrance smells like. 

To help you with your search, we’re taking a closer look at clove, one of the most common scent ingredients. In this article, we’ll break down what cloves smell like and which scents pair well with this distinct, delicious fragrance. 

Why Is Clove Such a Popular Scent?

Clove is such a popular scent because it’s used in food, baked goods, cocktails, and fragrances. An individual clove is a small, dried flower bud from an evergreen tree indigenous to the eastern Indonesian Maluku Islands — which are also (appropriately) named the Spice Islands. 

Historically, clove has been used for its health benefits. It was commonly mixed with other spices to improve digestion, relieve pain, and treat wounds, and the essential oil that comes from cloves is still sometimes used to make an antiseptic and anti-inflammatory compound known as eugenol. 

Although clove oil has long been used for medicinal purposes, and still is, you might know it as one of the absolute must-have spices of autumn and the holiday season in general. Clove is a staple ingredient in fall favorites like pumpkin pie, mulled wine, cider, chai, and more — and given the spicy scent of clove, it’s often mixed with other spices like cardamom, cinnamon, and allspice. 

Because cloves are often used in seasonal dishes, it's often associated with fall and winter, but clove can be used all year round, by everyone. 

What Does Clove Smell Like?

Let’s dive into the smell of clove and look at the four main components of clove’s scent so that you know exactly what to expect. 


Maybe most importantly, clove is a warm fragrance. Unlike a light, bright fragrance like citrus, clove has an element of warmth that instantly draws you in and creates a feeling of coziness. This warmth also comes from the slightly nutty smell of clove, which makes it such an ideal addition to many seasonal recipes. 


Alongside its warmth, clove also has a slightly spicy smell. Think of a steaming cup of chai tea before you add any milk or sugar — the spicy edge to your chai that might make your nose tingle ever so slightly is likely thanks to clove. 


Although it's spicy, clove, like all the best things, is also a little sweet. For this reason, you’ll often find clove paired with pumpkin, apple, or rhubarb in pies. Its natural sweetness is often drawn out by fruitier scents. 


To round things out, clove is also a woody fragrance. “Woody” refers to any fragrance that comes from wood materials like trees, leaves, bark, roots, moss, and resins. The woodiness of clove adds to its warmth and gives it a distinct depth. 

If this combination of scents is making you want to (literally) wrap yourself up in the smell of clove, now you can, thanks to Snif’s new Old Money woody scent booster. This laundry add-on features clove, apple, cardamon, tonka, musk, and more, making it an undeniably luxurious addition to any load. 

What Scents Pair Well With Clove?

You know where clove comes from and what it smells like. Now, it’s time to talk pairing. 

Often mixed with other scents in both cooking and fragrances, clove is the kind of scent that blends well. Here are some of the best scents to pair with clove.


Sandalwood is another woody scent that’s also warm and leathery. Unlike other woody scents, it’s slightly sweet and creamy, which makes it the perfect addition to many fragrances. Sandalwood is a refined, elegant smell that is drier than other juicy fragrances like citrus and floral scents. 

The subtle sweetness of sandalwood is on full display in the House of 8 fragrance. This chocolate scent features sandalwood, chocolate, vanilla, iris, lavender flower, heliotrope, and sage. An unusual balance of rich, deep fragrances with light florals, this luxurious scent is sure to turn heads wherever you go. 


Another perfect pairing with clove is orange. The refreshing, citrusy smell of orange balances out the rich depth of clove. Slightly juicy and sour, orange has an almost opposite scent profile to clove, and, you know what they say, opposites attract. 

To experience a bright burst of orange goodness, look no further than Citrus Circus. This is a tangy, sparkling citrus scent that will instantly transport you to summer at any time of year. With a combination of creamsicle, grapefruit, lime zest, sparkling water, aioli, violet, cedar, and white amber, this fragrance feels like a breath of fresh summer air. 


Perhaps less well-known than sandalwood and orange is patchouli, next up on the list to pair with clove. Although it may not be as common, patchouli is a musky and earthy scent that is an essential ingredient for many fragrance makers. 

Slightly sweet and spicy like clove, the smell of patchouli is beloved for its depth. If you can imagine what soil smells like after it rains, then you have a rough idea of what patchouli smells like. It’s calming and woody and is often associated with relaxation and meditation. 

To get a whiff of patchouli, check out Sweet Ash, a sweet fragrance that blends patchouli with juniper, bergamot, fir balsam, tonka, vanilla bean, and white moss. For some, patchouli on its own can be slightly overwhelming. However, when mixed with other elements, it becomes subtle and seductive. Sweet Ash is low-key enough to be your daily fragrance, but rich enough to never get boring. 


Lovers of Earl Grey tea are well acquainted with the smell of bergamot, our final suggestion for a scent to pair with clove. Tart, citrusy, floral, and spicy, bergamot is one of those fragrances that seems to do it all. It’s known as the “prince of citrus” and for good reason. This scent oozes luxury and has a bright, rounded feel.

The endless allure of bergamot is captured in Golden Ticket. This green tea scent features black tea, green tea, golden maté, sage, galbanum, incense, amber, vetiver, and bergamot — it’s light, but still packs a punch and is ideal for any tea lovers. 

Find Your New Go-To

Finding your go-to scent can be tricky, but taking time to get to know the smell of commonly used ingredients can help demystify the process. 

Clove is a sweet, spicy scent that comes from Indonesia originally. It is beloved in cooking and perfumery for its natural warmth and is an essential part of many holiday recipes. Clove bud essential oil is also renowned for its medicinal properties and often ingested or incorporated into creams and lotions. 

In the world of fragrance, clove pairs well with sandalwood, orange, patchouli, and bergamot. Incorporate clove into your signature scent with Snif’s fine fragrances, and infuse your life with this well-loved woody smell.


Clove (Syzygium aromaticum): a precious spice | NIH

Syzygium aromaticum L. (Myrtaceae): Traditional Uses, Bioactive Chemical Constituents, Pharmacological and Toxicological Activities | NIH 

A Comprehensive Review on the Phytochemical Constituents and Pharmacological Activities of Pogostemon cablin Benth.: An Aromatic Medicinal Plant of Industrial Importance | NIH

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