Sinking grade wood?

Discussion in 'Kodo Corner: The Wood' started by m.arif, Oct 21, 2016.

  1. m.arif

    m.arif Active Member

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    Sinking grade, highly sought after in the market.

    The question is, is "sinking" in itself a separate grade? Or is it a sub-grade of a main grade?

    Example :

    Double Super non-sinking
    Double Super sinking.

    Do vendors, consumers, and the like, differentiate different grades/qualities of sinking wood? Or if it's sinking then it's sinking. Nothing more, nothing less, and the price should remain relatively linear. What's your experience in the oud world in general, and in the oud market especially?
     
  2. Oud Learner

    Oud Learner Active Member

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    I had asked the same question before and Taha has posted an explanation on the classification system a while ago on BN with photos attached. It was a great post but unfortunately the info is lost to us for now. The information posted below is what i had gathered and learned (especially from Taha). Ensar or Adam can chip in their knowledge as well or correct me if i am wrong.

    The quantitative measures are pretty standard and goes by C, B, AB, A, AA, AA, AAA, Super, Double Super, Baby King Super and King Super. The only issue is that retailers (i.e. shops) don't usually play by the rules e.g. what is often labeled as "King Super" grade can be in actual reality AA and so on. 'Sinking' is more of a phenomenon than a grade, in reality. It occurs in upper-end Super, all Double Super, all baby King Super, and all King Super grade wood.

    Do take note that different cultures perceived the agarwood classification differently. The above classification and jargons used are Arab market terms whereby the quality of the agarwood is judged based on how rich the resin content is.

    Chinese is more interested in pieces of suitable hardness and thickness for carving before going for resination.

    Japanese on the other hand, go for complexity of scent contained in the wood, which has little to do with resination - and more about a fine balance of resin and oil. They may only know their woods by Flavor (Spicy, Sweet, Salty, Sour, Pungent, etc) - not by country of Origin.

    The Taiwanese are a bit of a mix of Japanese and Chinese.

    At the end of the day, classification is just that...what is more important is the scent profile when you heat it. To quote Ensar, whether the oil or in this case wood has the sort of soul stirring moment in you when you smell it. ;)
     
  3. m.arif

    m.arif Active Member

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    What a waste ! I never got the chance to explore it before it closed down, but so far it's a consensus that the BN Oud forum contains a lot of useful info. Hmm..Anyway, Ensar ,Adam, Kruger, and everyone else, please do join in, even the consumer group are welcome to share your experiences.

    Sinking occurs in all double super and above? So if it doesn't sink it shouldn't be called double super then. This would put many shops to shame if only it was the rule of thumb that is agreed upon in the agarwood industry. It seems that the arab market terms are dominating the market nowadays (online sellers).

    I'm assuming , that to see how the other gradings are used in the market, I need to explore the native Chinese,Japanese and Taiwanese market. The Japanese,for one, are very meticulous in most things that they do. If all other grading systems are put together, then the whole quality assessment becomes much more complex!

    I've read somewhere (can't remember) that Japanese incense houses provide appraisal services, and I'm guessing many Arabs would be dissappointed in the results for their collection :p

    Aha. For true Oud lovers , I guess that is the ultimate objective. Soul stirring..What a way to put it. :)

    I've got something to share here. It's from the Malaysian Forestry Department. They provided a guideline on agarwood grading, which they divide (quite simply) to Super A, A, B, C. The main criterias are function (woodchip for incense, or suitable for carving/decoration piece) and colour, and sub-criterias are size/shape, thickness, smell (which is hard to quantify I think). Still quite vague.

    Anyway, here are some pics of their samples of different (forestry department) grades.


    SUPER A GRADE

    SUPER A.jpg SUPER A-ARCA.jpg SUPER A-CHUNKS.jpg

    A GRADE

    A- CHUNKS N CHIPS.jpg A-CHIPS.jpg
     
  4. m.arif

    m.arif Active Member

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    More pictures (image limit per post)

    B GRADE

    B -PIECE.jpg

    B-CHIPS.jpg

    B-CHIPS2.jpg

    C GRADE

    C.jpg

    COLOUR GRADING SCALE

    COLOUR SCALE.jpg

    So what do you guys think? The pictures of Super A looks visually qualified for Double Super I think.

    From what I understand, many distillers would consider the C grade here to be too high for oil production, but they did include a picture of wood dust soaking in a pot under the C grade classification. Any opinions?

    Oh, they even gave a current market price for 2015. Here's a rough conversion to USD

    Super A : $7500/kilo.
    A : $5000/kilo
    B : $2500/kilo
    C : $2.50/kilo.

    I'm not sure if C is a typo, but if it's not, that's super cheap !

    They did not state explicitly that this grading is for wild or cultivated though (I might have missed it).
     
  5. bhanny

    bhanny Well-Known Member

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    While I am very very interested in learning all things agarwood, oil and wood, this is really all that matters to me. It's difficult to explain this to someone who doesn't share the same experience, they don't generally get all the "hype". Guess I didn't either until I stepped outside the box, ordered Ensar's sample pack, took a swipe of Purple Kinam on the left and Borneo 50K on the right. I had NO idea what on earth I was smelling, but it awoke something deep within. I'm only beginning to appreciate the depths of the connection this stuff has with my soul and psyche. Pretty awesome.
     
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  6. Oud Learner

    Oud Learner Active Member

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    @m.arif
    I don't think it is possible ever to reconcile all the different grading systems as the base lines and values are so different among the different cultures. Similarly, I don't think the Arabian would see eye to eye with the Japanese assessment either. The Arabian culture is more about fumigating with the wood and hence gauge the quality of the wood purely by the resin content. Japanese on the other hand is about fine listening in a monkoh session on tiny slivers of wood. For this reason, the resin content is of secondary importance.

    @bhanny
    Completely agree wth you. I would imagine most of us started off our Oud journey in the same fashion as you...the first swipe on the wrist and the rest is history! :cool: Unfortunately it is also the start of the point of no return...as we are consumed by our passion to constantly seeking out the best soul stirring olfactory experience!
     
  7. m.arif

    m.arif Active Member

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    Can't agree more with the both of you guys @bhanny @oud_learner. That is what oud lovers truly seek, spending lots of hard earned cash for a few grams of oil. People who dont understand would see this as nothing short of crazy :p

    In my case, the urge to get all this information and build a good understanding of them, is increasing. Due to the fact that I'm trying to spread the ouducation among my fellow countrymates, who have been living all their lives where agarwood grows, yet know little to nothing about them. Heck, some are proud they bought agarwood from arabian perfume houses during middle east trips!
     
  8. Taha

    Taha Well-Known Member

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    Yep, like Oud_Learner mentioned, there's no way to reconcile the different grading methods. Not just that, but EVEN in Malaysia itself (example shown above by m.arif), there are multiple grading systems. The one I like to stick to, because its the most systematic and makes the most sense, is the one Oud_Learner outlined above.
    But please be aware that in most places, the 'Super' prefix indicates size.
    For example, one of my Arab clients got really excited when he managed to find 'Double Super' Borneo wood for about 1/10th the price we sell our Double Super for. He was practically wagging a finger of blame at me. I said... okay, show me a photo. And just as i expected, it was what we refer to as B grade wood, except it was a very large in size. :p
     
  9. m.arif

    m.arif Active Member

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    Guess who's back from the jungle. Good to see you posting again Taha. I'm assuming that you came back in one piece :)

    It's complicated isn't it. One guy told me he could get sinking double super for $5-7/g and was complaining about the price I quoted for some wood I have in hand (Taha's Malay wood).

    Well if he really could then he wouldve gotten them I guess. :p
     
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  10. Taha

    Taha Well-Known Member

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    Nah, I'm not quite 'back' yet. :p
    Just had to swing by Sri Lanka for some distillations, and then I'll be going back to join Ahmad and Amab.

    $5-$7/g is impossible, even in the most oud-dense part of the most isolated place in Indonesia. Even directly from a jungle kampung guy, who somehow has 20 wild trees growing in his backyard.
    5 years ago, sure. Today, nope. :) If your friend is able to get it for that price, tell him I will buy it all from him.
     
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  11. Ensar Oud

    Ensar Oud Well-Known Member

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    You should give Adam a call then @Taha! I heard he was selling some sinking Sri Lankan wood for 'waaay less than $10 a gram' or something to that effect. I thought the same thing when I heard about it: Why doesn't he just call me and say he has sinking wood for that kind of price? I'd buy the entire lot in a heartbeat. I assumed it was distillation wood that for some reason happened to sink if put in water.....
     
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  12. m.arif

    m.arif Active Member

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    Taha always making a surprise when it comes to Oud eh. :) May the sri lankan distillations proceed smoothly. So the Filipino hunt will be extended a few more weeks? How'd it go so far if you dont mind sharing some vague hints? :p



    *My bad he said $6.50-$7..but that doesn't make significant different to the point made.

    When quoting lumpsum of double super n baby king..he (and I assume some other resellers) group them all together n ask.."How many grams total? How much ?". .and then calculated a per gram average.Was quite surprised..there's baby king super in there ya know? :O

    Perhaps it's the sinking but doesnt smell good kind of wood? I've heard Ensar mention somewhere that he was disappointed with the aroma of some sinking wood. Also some others mentioned about some sinking wood smell mediocre. Any words on this @Taha?

    Heh. If he offers to sell his wood I'll mention that to him. But you'll probably be disappointed in the actual wood.

    @Ensar yeah Adam mentioned that on facebook I think.maybe there's still some left? From pics of sri lankan wood I've seen (not many) they're not visually similar to other woods I've seen (black, dark streaks of resin). Is this the case specifically with sri lankan wood?
     
  13. Taha

    Taha Well-Known Member

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    My guess is that must have been settled dust/debris, that I can get for less than $10,000 as well. But sinking double super.. now that's a different story. :)

    Yep, I'm in Sri Lanka right now. So far so good. Just have to finish cleaning/seasoning/neutralizing the pots with sandalwood first (sandalwood has excellent cleansing properties). Funny, this very same topic was being discussed here @ Gaharu just recently. My position is that, yes, it needs to be done. Running a virgin pot distillation is a bad idea, the oil will smell quite off.
    However, I do believe in thoroughly cleaning out pots after every distillation (without abrasives or detergents though). I think Ensar and Adam may have a different view on this, because I know they're more adventurous than I (after the recent Impasug-ong excursion, I'm even less adventurous!).

    But back to sinking wood (the topic of this thread)-
    No way you can get sinking double super for $6.50-$7. Here in Sri Lanka, if you go to the regions where those shirtless axe-carrying jungle people live, Walla oud trees grow in abundance (this country is the only exception to the otherwise-unanimous affliction of extinction across SE Asia), and you negotiate with those folks and buy from them directly (i.e. not a wholesaler), even then you won't get this price. So do please tell him I'll buy it all, heck, throw in the usual 40% reseller profit for yourself as well, even then it would be a great deal for me. :p

    Yes, its true, not all sinking wood will automatically smell great.
    There can be grades of wood from another tree which are a couple notches below sinking, and yet smell superior to sinking grade wood from an inferior tree. There are a whole lot of factors that shape the aroma. Superior soil composition, altitude, and malling by clawed + tusked animals have a huge impact on the aroma of the oleoresin.
    Having said that, a higher grade of wood from a tree will always be superior to lesser grades of wood from the same tree.

    The best combo...? Sinking grade and stellar tree.
    (like the wood that you got)

    By the way, if you want to experience that same wood in oil form, swing by my place after I finally return back home (after Sri Lanka, I have to head back to join Ahmad and Amab first, they're still hunting.. so not sure exactly when I'll finally be back home after that). We can do a side-by-side heating v.s. oil comparison. Then you can let me know if Kehebatan is worthy of the name. ;)
     
  14. m.arif

    m.arif Active Member

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    Good info about the pots and wood. I've passed the distillation info over to the other thread.

    @about the cheap double super: Thanks for the offer Taha! But I have a feeling that it's too good to be true. Haha.

    No wonder the aroma keeps bursting out regardless of the ziplock plastic it's being kept in. I kept it (with the plastic) in a plastic jar-like container..and get a whiff of the collected spicy woody aroma from time to time. I dont dare burn it due to lack of skill (and equipment). Maybe I can bring some over next time and you can show me how it's done? Maybe I can be the cameraman for your Adam,Ensar,Taha Live streaming video :p

    The same wood? In OIL form?? Seriously? Kehebatan..not in your archives...Kehebatan sounds like a perfect name for it! new oil [email protected] you might need to sell some of your collection soon! Hehe. Cant wait to see this one get released (and smell it!).
     
  15. Oud Learner

    Oud Learner Active Member

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    @m.arif
    Personally i prefer glass bottle to keep the wood as typical plastic (ziplock bag or plastic container) vessels are porous and eventually the wood aroma would either escape or contaminant smell might creep in.
     
  16. m.arif

    m.arif Active Member

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    @oud_learner wow..that sounds scary. I was looking at some glass jars previously but didnt think I needed them. Thanks for the heads up!
     
  17. Oud Learner

    Oud Learner Active Member

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    @m.arif
    Ok I am very picky when it comes to storage. :rolleyes:

    On second thought, it is not that bad to store in plastic as long as the container is air tight and you do not keep them together with other aromatics or foul-smelling stuff.
     
  18. m.arif

    m.arif Active Member

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    @oud_learner If that's the case then I'm safe for now I guess. :) As expected of a meticulous scientist. Haha

    Regarding the topic...A vendor selling double super says according to him not all double super sinks..not necessarily.

    Yet his DS wood, he doesnt test them whether they sink or not. Really , it seems almost impossible to reconcile the grading system. One just needs to sharpen his senses and widen his experience, then judge wood from each vendor using his own judgement.
     
  19. m.arif

    m.arif Active Member

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    Interestingly some chinese buyers are interested in sinking grade wood, but only pieces that are suitable to make bangles/pendants (solid shape without any cavities/ thin chips). They pay quite a high price for such sinking wood. It has something to do with "Luck/Ong/Feng shui" beliefs it seems.

    Also, I heard that some wood that sinks might not sink after a few months. Does the oil content get released/escaped through time thus making it less sinking and perhaps even the weight might reduce? Perhaps this is why @Ensar, you store your wood in the freezer?
     
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  20. Ensar Oud

    Ensar Oud Well-Known Member

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    That's the biggest nightmare for a wood dealer.... He scores a nice log that sinks, then.... 6, 12, 24 months later.... he's got a floater.

    All wood will decrease in weight if stored in the open, but this is just part of the drying process. Once the wood is reasonably dry, if you bring it to more arid climates (like Jordan) even the volatile aromatic compounds may start to evaporate, which is why I used to store my wood in the freezer in our old office. We recently moved to a ground level office which is a bit more damp than the previous one, and I haven't felt the need to freeze my woods since.
     
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