Incense is a biological aromatic material that comes from natural resources. Some of these natural resources are trees, flowers and plants. Incense is privy to a rich and lush cultural and spiritual history. Incense can be traced back to religion and spirituality. The Chinese dynasties regularly employed the use of incense during their religious activities. The sorcerers of Ancient Egypt also utilised incense to chase away evil spirits lurking by and invite benevolent and light spirits.
The oldest incense burner currently recorded was used in Ancient Egypt. It was a small, engraved kettle. This is no doubt one of the first incense burners besides the ones used in Ancient Greece and Rome.
Incense, at its base form, comes from the following ingredients;
Resins - Resins are products found in plants and trees. They are a result of the mixture of organic compounds. Resins are responsible for healing plants when they experience an injury. While they're usually liquid once exposed to air for a certain amount of time, resins will harden and then be available for the production of incense. Resins are mostly available in woody plants.
Barks - The bark of a tree is its first outer layer. Although there are technically two barks in each tree - the inner and outer bark, the outermost bark is usually the one utilised. This does not mean the inner bark is a part of the production of incense.
Seeds - The seed is usually a small, hard, circular or oval-shaped item that can be gotten from fruits and plants. Seeds are usually used for replanting however they are also useful for incense production.
Flowers - Flowers are an integral part of incense production. Flowers often provide the natural, organic scent of incense. Before the invention of artificial scents, all incense items had natural scents provided by flowers used in their production.
Roots - Roots are simply the hidden parts of the tree. They are often huge and go as far down as 6-7 feet underground. Roots provide the foundation on which trees are sustained. Roots also provide nutrients and absorb moisture.
These are the basic ingredients of incense however there is one more ingredient that is perhaps the most important.
1. Combustible Base - The combustible base is the base of incense that gives it the ability to catch flames. Without the combustible base, the incense will not be lit up and there willbe no dispersion of the scent. The combustible base is usually plant-based or fuel and oxidizer based. Plant-based binders are often gum or other mucilaginous materials while the fuel and oxidizer mixture is usually charcoalor wood powder. This base alongside resin is what determines how the incense burns. Incense with tightly packed resin burns more and doesn't need constant flames to burn while incense with loose resin needs constant flamesto burn properly.
The main ingredients are first crushed into powder form before the base is added to produce a paste and left to harden depending on the type of incense being produced. Incense comes from natural and organic materials like trees, plants and flowers. The scents however are often derived. Some popular incense scents are;
10. Pinion pine
15. Star anise
21. Orange flower
22. Calamus Root
There are several types of incense available, however, all these types fall under one of two categories. These categories are;
Direct burning incense - Direct burning incense is a term that describes the type of incense directly dispersed into the air through burning. While all types of incense are set aflame to encourage the aroma to permeate the atmosphere, direct burning incense is usually free from artificial fragrances. It is usually rather heavy and mostly utilised in more professional settings. For example, direct burning incense is used in spiritual practices, religious practices and of course, aromatherapy which is a form of therapy where the sense of smell is prioritised.
Indirect burning incense - Indirect burning incense is the more popular category of incense. This type of incense, first of all, does not burn like direct burning incense because it is packaged differently and it is also packed with loose resin. Resin determines how fast or how slow incense burns. Indirect burning incense needle constant heat or else the incense stops burning.
Incense can be used in public spaces such as aromatherapy studios, yoga studios, and tea shops alongside a plethora of other locations. Now that we've discussed the categories of incense we can move on to the four major types of incense.
Incense powder - This refers to incense produced in powder form. Earlier on we mentioned that the main ingredients of incense are first ground into fine texture free of rough pieces. The combustible base is not added to this type of incense. It is sold directly to give people the chance to add their preferred flavours or just experience a more raw and concentrated form of incense.
Incense Coils - Incense coils are usually well suited for larger spaces. They can burn for as long as two hours. They are produced in the shape of a coil with a metal base. They have a coating of incense and they only need to be lit once to start working.
Incense Sticks - Incense sticks are perhaps the most popular incense items. Incense sticks range in sizes however they are usually either sandalwood, bamboo, pine, cedar or juniper wooden sticks with incense paste coating their outer layer. Incense sticks are well suited for beginners or people who just want to try out incense.
Incense Cones - Finally, we have the incense cones. Incense cones are tightly packed incense. They are called such because of their shape.
Burning incense brings many benefits to the users. Some of such benefits are;
1. They act as relaxants
2. They help purify the air
3. They have spiritual and religious significance
4. They can help to improve yoga and meditation practices.