All You Need to Know About 'ATTAR'

Updated: Jul 6

Hi, this is Roshni from SourcEEZ International – Beauty & Wellness Division. We are exporters of an entire range of Cosmetics, Attars, Essential Oils, Henna, Herbal Powders and other beauty and wellness products.

Today we will be discussing about ATTAR – an art of creating natural fragrances since centuries.


The word ‘Attar’ or ‘Ittar’ comes from an ancient Persian word ‘attar’, ‘otto’ or ‘ottar’, which means perfume, fragrance or scent. It can also be said that attar is an essential oil derived from botanical sources. Manufacturing of Attar is the practice of extracting scent from flowers, herbs and other botanical sources.

Some attar oils are extracted from wood as well. The extracted oils are generally distilled into a wood base such as sandalwood and then aged. The aging period can last from one to ten years depending on the botanicals used and the results desired.

Now, let’s revisit the theories from the past to understand how attars originated and evolved from one era to the other.

The history of attars dates back to most ancient times, more than thousands of years. Attar is quite ancient in India. It gained popularity during Mughal’s period in India. These natural attars were further explored and experimented during the Mughal period India. Most of the Mughal emperors and their queens were fond of attar fragrances and this led to the discovery and development of attars in India. There are many sources which cite that use of attar oils and fragrances added a whiff to life during the Mughal times in India.

The history of attars is very much associated with the history of Kannauj, a small town in Uttar Pradesh in India. Kannauj is known for manufacturing of attar oils. An expert in the region says: “Kannauj has been the perfumery town of the country for thousands of years”. 

Let’s check how the Traditional Method Works in the extraction of attars?

What makes Kannauj’s attar-making industry even more interesting is that despite the passage of time, they still follow the traditional method, a highly labour-intensive and time-consuming hydro-distillation process, called ‘Deg Bhapka’. This tradition has been passed on from generation to generation. There are hundreds of units that are manufacturing traditional attar in Kannauj.

The list of equipment that are typically used for traditional attar making are: 

  • Traditional Deg or Still - The process is carried out in copper stills which are also referred as “Degs”. From centuries ago, degs have played a critical role in producing organic fragrance oils using traditional ways. Degs are made of copper metal and have openings for connections to one or two receivers.

  • Bhapka or Receiver - The Bhapka, also called “receiver” is built of copper and contains a round shape with long neck. During the process of making attar the receiver is required to be connected with Deg via Chonga. It is popular as Bhapka in the local language and it acts as a condenser as well.

  • Traditional Bhatti or Furnace - Traditional bhatti that are used by attar craftsmen is built up of bricks and clay. Typically, wood or coal is used for heating during the process.

  • Gachchi or cooling water tank - A cooling water tank is the place where Bhapka, or receiver is kept, and its purpose is to cool the distillate from Deg.

Attars can be classified based on their perceived effect on human body such as:

Warm Attars such as Musk, Amber, Kesar (Saffron), Oud, are used in winters, they are believed to increase the body temperature.

Cool Attars such as Rose, Jasmine, Khus, Kewda, Mogra, are used in summers for their perceived cooling effect on the body. 


The recommended way to experience the fragrance of attar is to apply it to the inside of each wrist and dab a little behind each earlobe with the inside of your wrists before it dries. The attar will dry down in a few minutes after which you will experience its charming scent. 


1.      Sandalwood

2.      Shamama

3.      Kewra

4.      Khus

5.      Motia

6.      Majmua

7.      Gulab

8.      Heena

9.      Mitti

10.   Jasmine

That’s all for this section. Stay tuned for our next blogs.

And of course, please feel free to contact us for any of your requirements of cosmetics from India.



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