Incense Sticks - A Brief History of Incense

Aug 26


Mark Miles

Mark Miles

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Discover the amazing history behind incense used from 4000 BC and now in thousands of homes across the world. See how simple it is to use and why you should consider it for beautiful home fragrances.

Those amazing sticks that are imbued with fragrant oils and are used to send forth aromatic wafts of curling smoke have a long history dating back to approximately 4000 BC,Incense Sticks - A Brief History of Incense Articles but seriously, we love incense for one reason and that’s because it smells wonderful. However, it’s important and sometimes a lot of fun to take a look at where these marvelous inventions that give us such pleasure came from.

Truly, since way before hippies and flower children were even a twinkle of a twinkle of a twinkle in their ancestor’s eye, incense has been used by the human race to cleanse the air with its purifying scents. Ancient civilizations and nearly all cultures have used incense in their religious rituals, embalming rites and in honor of their ancestors. There are even many references to incense in the Old and New Testaments of the Bible.

Okay, so, we’ve come to the conclusion that incense is really, really old, but now you might be asking yourself, “How is it made?” Well, the answer isn’t simple because it depends on what type of incense you’re talking about. Some incense sticks are made from different varieties of raw wood, herbs, sticks soaked in aromatic oils or even powders and pastes. But to keep things simple, let’s focus on stick incense that you burn, because that’s what people generally think of when they hear the word “incense”.

Modern incense just like ancient incense; has roughly five ingredients: aromatic powder, wood pulp, an adhesive or binder (probably gum arabic) and wood pulp. These ingredients are generally mixed together to form a paste that can be rolled onto a thin sandalwood stick. The mixture and stick are allowed to dry and voilá, incense! Commercially, the way incense is made is very similar, except that mechanical processes are used to take the wet incense mixture and form it around a cored stick or press it into a mold.

The great thing about incense is that you can generally find an aroma that suits your nose or your needs. Even better are the types of incense available. Stick incense is probably the most popular form of incense, followed by cone-shaped incense. Both are easily burned and come in hundreds of different scents. Generally, these types of incense burn fairly quickly, maybe lasting from twenty to forty-minutes. If you want something that burns a lot slower, you may be interested in spiral incense. Amazingly, this stuff can burn for hours or even days!

The last type of incense that we’re going to look at is powdered incense. Most of the time, this incense is reserved for religious ceremonies. It takes a lot of prep time and it’s not exactly the most convenient type of incense to burn for those of us who are in a hurry or just want something we can light up with the quick flick of lighter or match.

Hopefully this has shed a bit of light on the wonderful world of incense. The next step you should take is to get out and make your own or find your favorite aromatic “flavour” and light it up.