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March 25, 2021 3 min read

What Is Incense Made Of

Incense is a popular aromatic product that has been used since ancient times. Many people often wonder what incense sticks are made up of, the ingredients used, and their fragrances. This blog post will help you understand the aromatic compounds used to make traditional incense and help you better understand how they are made.

People believed that using incense could help spirits find their way into the afterlife. In contrast, others used it strictly for prayers and as offerings in temples or holy grounds. Furthermore, in ancient times people also believed that certain types of incense had healing properties and could help aid certain ailments. To this day, some of the ingredients like dragon's blood can be seen being used medicinally in certain places of the world.

The right incense can make a world of difference in the atmosphere of your home, office, classroom or industry. For example, some of the biggest benefits of burning incense are:

  • Dispersing tension
  • Freshening the indoor air
  • Relaxing - enjoy its aromas after long hours at work
  • Aromatherapy

Let's talk about the ingredients that you can see commonly being used for most types of incense and how it is made.


How it’s Made & Ingredients Used

What makes each incense type different when it comes to ingredients is 'how it is made.' Certain manufacturers and vendors are available on the market that still use traditional methods to make their incense. This makes them unique and creates a fragrance that you can't find elsewhere. They all use some similar aromatic compounds as ingredients like:

  • Frankincense
  • Myrrh
  • Aromatic woods
  • Barks
  • Floral extracts
  • Seeds and roots.

There are also other common fragrances like strawberry, coconut, and jasmine that you can choose from, as well as exotic and musky fragrances.

Step-by-Step Process:

  • Choosing a dried herb
  • Crushing them into powder
  • Adding makko powder with distilled water
  • Forming the cones or sticks by hand
  • Drying them
  • Finally, burning them

However, this process can be different in other regions and for certain incense types like hand-dipped and backflow incense cones. Each tradition culturally adapted its own way of making incense and includes a few more aromatic compounds and extracts.

Indian Incense

Incense has been present in Indian culture for a long time and is made using ingredients like the adhesive from the litseaglutinosa tree's bark. Though commonly incense from their culture is remembered because of their hand-dipped and rolled incense sticks. Some vendors distributing Indian incense are Satya Sai Baba Nag Champa and HEM.

They also use various resins, like frankincense, myrrh, and halmadi, to make traditional masala incense. These resins are used both for their binding properties as well as their distinctive fragrances. Additionally, they use an earth-coloured resin extracted from the ailanthus triphysa tree when making their traditional forms of incense sticks. They also create an incense called Dhoop (roughly translates to sunlight). Using a high percentage of sandalwood, these give off concentrated scents emitting huge amounts of smoke once burned.

Japanese Incense

Incense had been popular in Japan since the late Muromachi period in the 16th century. Samurai warriors would prepare themselves before battle by using the incense of koboku. They believed this would purify their mind and bodies.

Solid incense sticks are still very popular in Japan. The unique thing about traditionally made Japanese incense products is that they don't use any supporting cores. Instead, they use aromatic compounds entirely. One of the materials commonly used is the bark of a tree called tabu, benzoin resin from the Styracaceae tree and sandalwood. A popular vendor distributing traditional Japanese incense is Nippon Kodo.

Additionally, some of the aromatic compounds used in Japanese incense are agarwood and koboku, a hardened secretion of aromatic resin, lavender, patchouli, cloves, and other herbs and plant extracts.

Tibetan Incense

Incense in Tibet in ancient times was used for medicinal practices to treat various ailments. This can be traced back to ancient books from the Four Tantras. Japanese incense and Tibetan incense are also very similar; they both do not use cores in their sticks. These traditional products are not hand-rolled around a bamboo stick; instead, they contain 30 or more ingredients to create an earthy scent.

Some of the ingredients commonly used are agarwood, pine, myrrh, amber, snow lotus herbs, cloves, borneol, and Chinese caterpillar fungus. Additionally, they also use makko powder from the bark of the tabu-no-ki-tree. Traditionally they also use dried bulls' horns drilled with holes. Mixing them together along with essential and fragrant oils to create their key fragrance.

Traditional incense cones and sticks have many benefits and practical uses. Hopefully, with our blog, you now know a bit more about the aromatic compounds used to make them. Consider leaving us a comment so we can help connect with you and answer any questions you may have regarding incense, fragrances, and types.

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