Need Ideas for a holiday gift giving?

If you like to surprise your friends and family with new fragrance gifts, Here’s some ideas:

Khloe and Lamar tasted the sweet success after the Unbreakable perfume release, and tried their hands at launching a new unisex fragrance with a fresher and lighter composition, Unbreakable Joy.  Khloe and Lamar Unbreakable Joy is all about a joyful, flirty and nice perfume with a modern and pleasant aroma.

 According to Khloe: “Our goal was to create a scent that embodies that wonderful feeling of pure love, happiness, and joy that this time of year is all about.”

Khloe and Lamar Unbreakable Joy is a freshly spicy perfume composed of champagne, geranium, jasmine, chocolate truffle, vanilla, cedar and musk. It comes in a red colored bottle decorated with white dots inspiring a party fragrance.

Khloe and Lamar Unbreakable Joy will be available in 100 ml Eau de Toilette.

VERSACE

Luxurious fashion label Versace launches a new fragrance for men, Eros. Versace Erosis a truly powerful, masculine and provocative fragrance inspired by the Greek mythology. This fragrance is full of passion and desire – one capable of turning an instant into eternity.Eros by Versace is created by perfumer Aurelien Guichard of Givaudan as a woody, fresh and oriental fragrance with an instant and captivating charm.

“Eros is truly the DNA of the house of Versace.” “We have a Greek motive making us think about ancient Greece, antiquities and mythology, while turquoise color represents the Mediterranean. That is Versace!” – explains Donatella.

Versace Eros perfectly mixes mint oil with fresh green apple and Italian lemon making it a vibrant fruity burst. The middle is made of Tonka combined with Venezuelan ambroxan and geranium flowers. Versace Eros is advertised by handsome model Brian Shimansky. This fragrance will fit men with strong goals, heroes and independent.

Versace Eros will be available in 50 and 100ml Eau de Toilette

ROBERTO CAVALLI

“Perfume is a part of my fashion. Every woman should have my dress and every woman needs a Cavalli perfume.”—Roberto Cavalli

Famous and talented fashion designer Roberto Cavalli will present its new feminine and astounding perfume for women in 2013 named Just Cavalli. Roberto Cavalli Just Cavalli is the 2nd fragrance in collaboration with the house of Coty with a sexy, soft and seductive aroma. This fresh flowery perfume emanates a delicate, modern and nice aroma ideal for women who love being in the center of attention.

Roberto Cavalli Just Cavalli is created by perfumers Nathalie Lorson and Fabrice Pellegrin as a creamy/floral perfume. It opens with drops of neroli accentuated by heart notes of Tahitian tiare flowers and soft and sensual rosewood accords in the end. Just Cavalli comes in a modern crystal bottle, half of it covered with gold-colored metal and another half transparent pink. The sweet and beautiful perfume is being fronted by Georgia May Jagger.

Roberto Cavalli Just Cavalli will be available in30, 50 and 75ml Eau de Toilette.

Forever Red – the new hot, passionate and alluring perfume for women launched by Bath & Body Works. Bath & Body

Works Forever Red has an eye-catching, inviting and feminine design that will forever attract women’s attention.

“Our most luxurious longest lasting fragrance blends opulent notes of fiery red pomegranate and delicate peche de vigne, a rare and fleeting French peach. Soft petals of red osmanthus give way to notes of addictive velvety marshmallow and a surprising finale of rich vanilla rum that leaves an unforgettable impression.”

Bath & Body Works Forever Red is also blending apple, peony, marigold and oak notes. It comes in an intense red/bordo color bottle with a nice ribbon adorned between the stopper and the body. Forever Red will definitely be a good and strong accessory in the hands of any woman.

Bath & Body Works Forever Red is available in 75ml Eau de Parfum and 236ml Fragrance Mist.

  COACH

 

 

 This year,Coach Poppy Blossom by Coach will show up in a very delicate, feminine appearance with a flowery/ sweet aroma. Coach Poppy Blossom is the new flanker to the originalCoach Poppy launched in 2010. The new perfume is fresher, modern, funnier yet elegant. This fragrance is a truly beautiful and gorgeous perfume for women.

Coach Poppy Blossom by Coach opens with amazing delicious notes of litchi, mara, strawberry, mandarin and freesia along with lily of the valley, Centifolia rose, tuberose, gardenia and Sambac jasmine. The base indulges and calms with praline, vanilla, blonde woods and musky notes. Coach Poppy Blossom comes in a pale peach color bottle adorned with a huge red flower around the stopper inspiring a delicate and nice feminine design.

Coach Poppy Blossom by Coach will be available in 30, 50 and 100ml Eau de Parfum.

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Perfume Vs. Body Oil- Which Do You Prefer?

 

 Perfume Vs. Body Oil- Which One Do You Prefer? 

Even in good times, purchasing perfumes or colognes is sometimes considered a bad purchase. They can be overpriced, diluted, and overbearing. On the other hand, perfume oils can also be the best purchase you make. These oils contain no alcohol (perfumes and colognes have at least eighty to ninety percent alcohol content), are reasonably priced, and are not overbearing. These perfumes are a smart buy, because they do not contain alcohol, fillers and over-hyped packaging.

Here is an interesting tidbit of information: when a perfume or cologne is created, the name and the packaging are trademarked but the scent is not. This is a Supreme Court decision- the scent belongs to nature, not to the manufacturer. As long as a disclaimer is presented explaining that the product is not the original perfume or cologne, it is one hundred percent legal to copy a scent. So anyone can copy the scent, but the key is using the right instruments and raw materials (essential oils) to create quality perfume oil. Unfortunately, from the Seventies to the present, cheap imitations and replicas have given the public a negative impression when comparing these scents to the originals.

Here is a comparison chart that will illustrate the differences between perfumes and perfume oils:

Perfume Oils 

Reasonably priced
Alcohol-free
Less likely to cause allergic reactions
Long-lasting (6-15 hours)
A cleaner, richer, and truer scent
Longer shelf-life
Scent more constant
Growing in popularity
Majority are non-flammable

Vs.

Perfume 
(Based on designer perfumes)

Overpriced
80-97 percent alcohol
Not long-lasting (only 1-3 hours)
Harsh, overbearing, and overpowering scent
A short shelf-life due to alcohol evaporation
“Sophisticated” packaging in fact has a negative effect on the environment
High chance of causing allergic reactions
Many low-quality imitations and duplications
Highly flammable

Yet “Grade A” perfumes are different. These “Grade A” perfumes and colognes are created from perfume oils, so they not only smell exactly like the originals but are actually better. They are becoming the hottest alternative to perfumes and colognes- the public has caught on and the demand is growing. Perfume oils are now a mainstream product. For about 1/20 of the price, consumers are a buying a product that is purer, longer-lasting and not overbearing. Consumers that purchase perfume oils rarely buy perfumes and colognes again. Since perfume oils are reasonably priced, it is not unusual for someone to have between ten and thirty perfume oils in their collection, from hard-to-find classics and discontinued scents, to recent releases. An additional advantage of perfume oils is that those consumers that are allergic to perfumes and colognes are rarely allergic to perfume oils. People may be allergic to perfumes and colognes due to the high content of alcohol found in the product.

Body or Perfume oils are a mainstream product and are growing in popularity each day. I won’t judge other companies but I believe there are only a few companies selling mediocre oils . What I did find out that many of these companies are claiming that they have the best oils, or that they are #1 on the web. Some have no phone numbers, no address or other crucial information, or are open only a few hours a day.  The only way one can tell if they are receiving quality oils would be, try them on.  There is no other way. Looking at it, shaking for bubbles, seeing how thick it is, or holding it to the light are all methods that are a waste of time and ineffective. All perfume oils have three notes, what you smell on your body immediately is the first note, 15 minutes to 30 minutes after putting it on your skin is the second note, and the final note, which takes about 2 hours, is what can be considered the actual scent that is produced on your skin.  Excellent quality body oils will show themselves over time. Time is the best indicator, and customers will come back for more, and a reputation will be earned and built.

When looking on the Internet, I made another observation: some companies sell two different grades of oil.  Companies are selling the oils at high end price, i.e. $120-$200 an ounce, claiming it to be the most natural, purest and best grade on the market. Of course, everyone is entitled to a living and there is a market for everyone, but even the best perfume oils at retail prices should not be that high.

So the best advice to everyone that I would offer is to buy small at first to test the oils or see if you can request or buy samples to compare. Now some companies will not do this for many reasons, so use your best judgment. Also, ask around or read comments and blogs on the net to see which companies are selling the best quality body oils. Like everything else in life, eventually you will find the best form.

Enjoy your favorite fragrance, Oil or Perfume!

How to Store your Body Oils

Fragrance Oil, like other cosmetics, has a shelf life if you are not mindful of how to preserve it. But unlike most makeup, it can be hard to replace, extremely expensive, and once something happens to it, there’s no putting it back together. Because fragrance oil is so vulnerable to degradation from a number of factors, smart storage practices are important. Many distributors may cut the fragrance with an additive. No need to worry, ScentSationals believes in PURE product! Want to know how to keep your favorite fragrance oil smelling exactly as they should for as long as possible? Here’s what to do.

  • Do not transfer it to a plastic container of any kind. The glass bottle will keep your fragrance potent
  • Keep them away from temperature extremes. The best temperature is a good bit colder than a comfortable room, around 55-60 degrees. If you want the perfect conditions, try storing your fragrance in a drawer.
  • Don’t put them in your bathroom. It makes sense to put your favorite perfume on your sink, but it’s actually not a good idea. Bathrooms are hot and humid, which makes them prime areas for breaking down the fragrance’s molecules and introducing bacteria.
  • Keep your stuff in the dark. Light exposure degrades lots of molecules, including those in most fragrances. So keeping your scents somewhere with little to no light exposure is best.
  • Keep Caps on the bottles. Keep the caps on the bottles after each use so that it will not to affect the fragrance ingredients.


Which Form Of Incense Is Best and What Is The Difference?

Production is quite the opposite for direct-burning incense. In addition to producing a pleasant scent when burnt, this type of incense must burn completely to a cool white ash with a stable ember. Ideally the incense should burn slowly and evenly with no trace of the supporting core after burning. In order to obtain these desired combustion qualities, attention has to be paid to certain proportions in direct burning incense mixtures:

  • Oil content: Resinous materials such as myrrh and frankincense must not exceed the amount of dry materials in the mixture to such a degree that the incense will not smolder and burn.[ The higher the oil content relative to the dry mass, the less likely the mixture is to burn effectively. Typically the resinous or oily substances are balanced with “dry” materials such as wood, bark and leaf powders.
  • Oxidizer quantity: The amount of chemical oxidizer in gum-bound incense must be carefully proportioned. If too little, the incense will not ignite, and if too much, the incense will burn too quickly and not produce fragrant smoke.
  • Mixture density: Incense mixtures made with natural binders must not be combined with too much water in mixing, or over-compressed while being formed, which would result in either uneven air distribution or undesirable density in the mixture, causing the incense to burn unevenly, too slowly, or too quickly
  • Particulate size: The incense mixture has to be well pulverized with similarly sized particulates. Uneven and large particulates result in uneven burning and inconsistent aroma production when burned.
  • Binder: Water-soluble binders such as “makko” (抹香・末香) have to be used in the right proportion to make sure that the incense mixture does not crumble when dry but also that the binder does not take up too much of the mixture.

Some kinds of direct-burning incense are created from “incense blanks” made of unscented combustible dust immersed into any suitable kind of essential or fragrance oil. These are often sold in America by flea-market and sidewalk vendors who have developed their own styles. Such items are often known as “dipped” or “hand-dipped” incense. This form of incense requires the least skill and equipment to manufacture, since the blanks are pre-formed in China or South East Asia, then simply scented with essential oils.

Compressed forms

Incense mixtures can be extruded or pressed into shapes. Small quantities of water are combined with the fragrance and incense base mixture and kneaded into a hard dough. The incense dough is then pressed into shaped forms to create cone and smaller coiled incense, or forced through a hydraulic press for solid stick incense. The formed incense is then trimmed and slowly dried. Incense produced in this fashion has a tendency to warp or become misshapen when improperly dried, and as such must be placed in climate-controlled rooms and rotated several times through the drying process.

Cored sticks

Traditionally, the bamboo cores of cored stick incense is prepared by hand from the clums of Phyllostachys heterocycla cv. pubescens (茅竹,江南竹) since this species produces thick wood and easily burns to ashes in the incense stick. Through this process, known as “splitting the foot of the incense stick” (剖香腳), the bamboo is trimmed to length, soaked, peeled, and then continuously split in halves until thin sticks of bamboo with square cross sections of less than 3mm ]This process has been largely been replaced by machines in modern incense production.

In the case of cored incensed sticks, several methods are employed to coat the sticks cores with incense mixture:

  • Paste rolling: A wet, malleable paste of incense mixture is first rolled into a long, thin coil, using a paddle. Then, a thin stick is put next to the coil and the stick and paste are rolled together until the stick is centered in the mixture and the desired thickness is achieved. The stick is then cut to the desired length and dried.
  • Powder-coating: Powder-coating is used mainly to produce cored incense of either larger coil (up to 1 meter in diameter) or cored stick forms. A bundle of the supporting material (typically thin bamboo or sandalwood slivers) is soaked in water or a thin water/glue mixture for a short time. The thin sticks are then evenly separated, then dipped into a tray of incense powder, consisting of fragrance materials and occasionally a plant-based binder. The dry incense powder is then tossed and piled over the stick while they are spread apart. The sticks are then gently rolled and packed to maintain roundness while more incense powder is repeatedly tossed onto the sticks. Three to four layers of powder are coated onto the sticks, forming a 2 mm thick layer of incense material on the stick. The coated incense is then allowed to dry in open air. Additional coatings of incense mixture can be applied after each period of successive drying. Incense sticks that are burned in temples of Chinese folk religion produced in this fashion can have a thickness between 2 to 4 millimeters.
  • Compression: A damp powder is mechanically formed around a cored stick by compression, similar to the way uncored sticks are formed. This form is becoming more commonly found due to the higher labor cost of producing powder-coated or paste-rolled sticks.

Burning incense

For indirect-burning incense, pieces of the incense are burned by placing them directly on top of a heat source or on a hot metal plate in a censer orthurible.

In Japan a similar censer called a egōro (柄香炉?) is used by several Buddhist sects. The egōro is usually made of brass with a long handle (柄 e?)) and no chain. Instead of charcoal, makkō powder is poured into a depression made in a bed of ash. The makkō is lit and the incense mixture is burned on top. This method is known as Sonae-kō (Religious Burning).

For direct-burning incense, the tip or end of the incense is ignited with a flame or other heat source until the incense begins to turn into ash at the burning end. Flames on the incense are then fanned or blown out, with the incense continuing to burn flamelessly on its own.

Chinese incense

For over two thousand years, the Chinese have used incense (Chinese: 香; pinyin: xiāng; meaning “fragrance; aroma; perfume; spice; incense”) in religious ceremonies, ancestor veneration, Traditional Chinese medicine, and daily life.

Agarwood (沈香; chénxiāng) and sandalwood (檀香; tánxiāng) are the two most important ingredients in Chinese incense.

Along with the introduction of Buddhism in China came calibrated incense sticks and incense clocks (香鐘;xiāngzhōng; “incense clock”; or 香印; xiāngyìn; “incense seal”). The poet Yu Jianwu 庾肩吾 (487-551) first recorded them: “By burning incense we know the o’clock of the night, With graduated candles we confirm the tally of the watches.” The use of these incense timekeeping devices spread from Buddhist monasteries into Chinese secular society.

It is incorrect to assume that the Chinese only burn incense in the home before the family shrine. In Taoist traditions, incense is inextricably associated with the ‘yin’ energies of the dead, temples, shrines, and ghosts. Therefore, Taoist Chinese believe burning undedicated incense in the home attracts the dreaded hungry ghosts, who consume the smoke and ruin the fortunes of the family.

However, since Neolithic times, the Chinese have evolved using incense not only for religious ceremonies, but also for personal and environmental aromatherapy. Although misrepresented until recent studies, Chinese incense art is now regarded as one of the esteemed Chinese art forms – next to calligraphy, tea, flower arrangements, antiquities, etc.

Indian incense

An Oriental Orthodox congregation in India processes outside its church with palm fronds on Palm Sunday with incense.

Indian incense can be divided into two categories: masala and charcoal.

Masala incenses are made by blending several solid scented ingredients into a paste and then rolling that paste onto a bamboo core stick. These incenses usually contain little or no liquid scents (which can evaporate or diminish over time).

Charcoal incenses are made by dipping an unscented “blank” (non-perfume stick) into a mixture of perfumes and/or essential oils. These blanks usually contain a binding resin that holds the sticks’ ingredients together. Most charcoal incenses are black in color.

Jerusalem temple incense

Ketoret was the incense offered in the Temple in Jerusalem and is stated in the Book of Exodus as a mixture ofstacte, onycha, galbanum and frankincense.

Tibetan incense

Tibetan incense refers to a common style of incense found in Tibet, Nepal, and Bhutan. These incenses have a characteristic “earthy” scent to them. Ingredients vary from cinnamon, clove, and juniper, to kusum flower, ashvagandha, or sahi jeera.

Many Tibetan incenses are thought to have medicinal properties. Their recipes come from ancient Vedic texts that are based on even older Ayurvedicmedical texts. The recipes have remained unchanged for centuries.

Japanese incense

In Japan incense appreciation folklore includes art, culture, history, and ceremony. It can be compared to and has some of the same qualities as music, art, or literature. Incense burning may occasionally take place within the tea ceremony, just like Calligraphy, Ikebana, and Scroll Arrangement. However the art of incense appreciation or Koh-do, is generally practiced as a separate art form from the tea ceremony, however usually practiced within a tea room of traditional Zen design.

Agarwoodand sandalwood  are the two most important ingredients in Japanese incense. Agarwood is known as “Jinkō” in Japan, which translates as “incense that sinks in water”, due to the weight of the resin in the wood. Sandalwood is one of the most calming incense ingredients and lends itself well to meditation. It is also used in the Japanese tea ceremony. The most valued Sandalwood comes from Mysore in the state of Karnataka in India.

Another important ingredient in Japanese incense is kyara.  The one kind of agarwood (Japanese incense companies divide agarwood into 6 categories depending on the region obtained and properties of the agarwood). Kyara is currently worth more than its weight in gold.

Some terms used in Japanese incense culture include:

Incense Arts: 

  • Agarwood:  – from heartwood from Aquilaria trees, unique, the incense wood most used in incense ceremony, other names are: lignum aloes or aloeswood, gaharu, jinko, or oud.
  • Censer/Incense burner: – usually small and used for heating incense not burning, or larger and used for burning
  • Charcoal: – only the odorless kind is used.
  • Incense woods:– a naturally fragrant resinous wood.

What type of Incense are You Buying?

Incense materials are available in various forms and degrees of processing. They can generally be separated into “direct-burning” and “indirect-burning” types depending on use. Preference for one form or another varies with culture, tradition, and personal taste. Although the production of direct- and indirect-burning incense are both blended to produce a pleasant smell when burned, the two differ in their composition due to the former’s requirement for even, stable, and sustained burning.

Indirect-burning Incense

Indirect-burning frankincense on a hot coal

Indirect-burning incense, also called “non-combustible incense”,is a combination of aromatic ingredients that are not prepared in any particular way or encouraged into any particular form, leaving it mostly unsuitable for direct combustion. The use of this class of incense requires a separate heat source since it does not generally kindle a fire capable of burning itself and may not ignite at all under normal conditions. This incense can vary in the duration of its burning with the texture of the material. Finer ingredients tend to burn more rapidly, while coarsely ground or whole chunks may be consumed very gradually as they have less total surface area. The heat is traditionally provided by charcoal or glowing embers.

In the West, the best known incense materials of this type are frankincense and myrrh, likely due to their many mentions in the Christian Bible. In fact, the word forfrankincense in many European languages also alludes to any form of incense.

  • Whole: The incense material is burned directly in its raw unprocessed form on top of coal embers.
  • Powdered or granulated: The incense material is broken down into finer bits. This incense burns quickly and provides a short period of intense smells.
  • Paste: The powdered or granulated incense material is mixed with a sticky and incombustible binder, such as dried fruit, honey, or a soft resin and then formed to balls or small pastilles. These may then be allowed to mature in a controlled environment where the fragrances can commingle and unite. Much Arabian incense, also called “Bukhoor” or “Bakhoor”, is of this type (Bakhoor, actually refers to frankincense in both Lebanese and Arabic, and Japan has a history of kneaded incense, called nerikō or awasekō, using this method.Within the Eastern Orthodox Christian tradition, raw frankincense is ground into a fine powder and then mixed with various sweet-smelling essential oils.

Production

Indirect burning incense does not have any stringent requirements except for achieving a pleasant smell when lit. Mixture of incense materials can be joined by powdering the raw materials and then mixing them together with a binder to form pastes, which are then cut and dried into pellets.

Incense of the Athonite Orthodox Christian tradition are made using similar methods by powdering frankincense or fir resin, mixing it with essential oils. Floral fragrances are the most common, but citrus such as lemon is not uncommon. The incense mixture is then rolled out into a slab approximately 1 cm thick and left until the slab has firmed. It is then cut into small cubes, coated with clay powder to prevent adhesion, and allowed to fully harden and dry. The product visually resemble cubes of Loukoum. In Greece this rolled incense resin is called ‘Moskolibano’, and generally comes in either a pink or green colour denoting the fragrance, with pink being rose and green being jasmine.

Direct-burning Incense

Incense coils hanging from the ceiling of an East Asian temple

Direct-burning incense also called “combustible incense”, generally requires little preparation prior to its use. When lit directly by a flame (hence the appellation) and then fanned out, the glowing ember on the incense will continue to smoulder and burn away the rest of the incense without continued application of heat or flame from an outside source. This class of incense is made from a moldable substrate of fragrant finely ground (or liquid) incense materials and odourless binder.The composition must be adjusted to provide fragrance in the proper concentration and to make sure even burning. The following types of direct-burning incense are commonly encountered, though the material itself can take almost any form, according to expediency or whimsy:

  • Coil: Extruded and shaped into a coil without a core. This type of incense is able to burn for an extended period, from hours to days, and is commonly produced and used by Chinese culture
  • Cone: Incense in this form burns relatively fast. Incense cones were invented in Japan in the 1800s.
  • Cored stick: This form of stick incense has a supporting core of bamboo. Higher quality varieties of this form have fragrant sandalwood cores. The core is coated by a thick layer of incense material that burns away with the core. This type of incense is commonly produced in India and China. When used for worship in Chinese folk religion, cored incensed sticks are sometimes known as “joss sticks”.
  • Solid stick: This stick incense has no supporting core and is completely made of incense material. Easily broken into pieces, it allows one to determine the specific amount of incense they wish to burn. This is the most commonly produced form of incense in Japan and Tibet.
  • Powder: The loose incense powder used for making indirect burning incense is sometimes burned without further processing. They are typically packed into long trails on top of wood ash using a stencil and burned in special censers or incense clocks.
  • Paper: Paper infused with incense, folded accordion style, lit and blown out. Examples are Carta d’Armenia and Papier d’Arménie.
  • Rope: The incense powder is rolled into paper sheets, which are then rolled into ropes, twisted tightly, then doubled over and twisted again, yielding a two-strand rope. The larger end is the bight, and may be stood vertically, in a shallow dish of sand or pebbles. The smaller (pointed) end is lit. This type of incense is highly transportable and stays fresh for extremely long periods. It has been used for centuries in Tibet and Nepal.

Direct-burning incense of these forms is either extruded, pressed into forms, or coated onto a supporting material.

The disks of powdered mugwort called ‘moxa’ sold in Chinese shops and herbalists are used in Traditional Chinese medicine for moxibustion treatment. Moxa tablets are not incenses; the treatment relies on heat rather than fragrance.

Joss sticks

Picture of joss sticks in a Chinese temple

Joss sticks are used for a variety of purposes associated with ritual and religious devotion in China and India. They are used in Chinese influenced East Asian and Southeast Asian countries, traditionally burned before the threshold of a home or business, before an image of a Chinese popular religion divinity or spirit of place, or in small and humble or large and elaborate shrine found at the main entrance to each and every village. Here the earth god is propitiated in the hope of bringing wealth and health to the village. They can also be burned in front of a door, or open window as an offering toheaven, or devas. The Chinese word “joss” for Joss (god) is derived from the Latin deus (god) via Portuguese.

Big Dragon joss sticks.

Joss-stick burning is an everyday practice in traditional Chinese religion. There are many different types of joss sticks used for different purposes or on different festive days. Many of them are long and thin and are mostly colored yellow, red, and more rarely, black. Thick joss sticks are used for special ceremonies, such as funerals. Spiral joss sticks are also used on a regular basis, which are found hanging above temple ceilings, with burn times that are exceedingly long. In some states, such as Taiwan, Singapore, or Malaysia, where they celebrate the Ghost Festival, large, pillar-like dragon joss sticks are sometimes used. These generate such a massive amount of smoke and heat that they are only ever burned outside.

Chinese incense sticks for use in popular religion are generally without aroma or only the slightest trace of jasmine or rose, since it is the smoke, not the scent, which is important in conveying the prayers of the faithful to heaven. They are composed of the dried powdered bark of a non-scented species of Cinnamon native to Cambodia, Cinnamomum cambodianum. Inexpensive packs of 300 are often found for sale in Chinese supermarkets. Despite that they contain no sandalwood at all, they often include the Chinese character for sandalwood on the label, as a generic term for incense.

Highly scented Chinese incense sticks are only used by some Buddhists. These are often quite expensive due to the use of large amounts of sandalwood, aloeswood, or floral scents used. The Sandalwood used in Chinese incenses does not come from India, its native home, but rather from groves planted within Chinese territory. Sites such as belonging to Tzu Chi, Chung Tai Shan, Buddhism in Sri Lanka, Buddhism in Burma and Korean Buddhism do not use incense.

The History Of Incense

 


Incense (from Latin incendere “to burn”)is composed of aromatic biotic materials, which release fragrant smoke when burned. The term incense refers to the substance itself, rather than to the odor that it produces. It is used in religious ceremonies, ritual purification, aromatherapy, meditation, for creating a spiritual atmosphere, and for masking unpleasant odors.

Incense is composed of aromatic plant materials, often combined with essential oils. The forms taken by incense differ with the underlying culture, and have changed with advances in technology and increasing diversity in the reasons for burning it. Incense can generally be separated into two main types: “indirect-burning” and “direct-burning.” Indirect-burning incense (or “non-combustible incense”) is not capable of burning on its own, and requires a separate heat source. Direct-burning incense (or “combustible incense”) is lit directly by a flame and then fanned or blown out, leaving a glowing ember that smoulders and releases fragrance. Direct-burning incense comes in several forms, including incense sticks (or “joss sticks”), cones, and pyramids.

Incense was used by Chinese cultures from Neolithic times and became more widespread in the Xia, Shang, and Zhoudynasties. The earliest recorded use of incense comes from the ancient Chinese, who used incense from herbs and plant products (such as cassia, cinnamon, styrax, sandalwood, amongst others) during the rites of formal ceremonies.Eventually, the Hindus adopted the use of incense from the Chinese, but they were the first to also use roots for incense.

Incense was used by the ancient Egyptians, not only to counteract unpleasant odours, but also to drive away demons and please the gods.They thought that Resin balls were found in many prehistoric Egyptian tombs in El Mahasna. The oldest incense burner found dates back the 5th dynasty.The Temple of Deir-el-Bahari in Egypt contains a series of carvings that depict an expedition for incense.

Some of the oldest references of incense appear to be within the Vedas (ancient Hindu texts) themselves, especially the Atharva Veda, indicating that the use of incense is quite old, dating back at least 3500 years and more likely closer to 6000 to 8500 years old at a minimum.

At around 2000 BC, Ancient China was the first civilization who began the use of incense in the religious sense, namely for worship.

The Babylonians used incense while offering prayers to divining oracles. Incense spread from there to Greece and Rome.

The Indus Civilization used incense burners. Evidence suggests oils were used mainly for their aroma.

Brought to Japan in the 6th century by Korean Buddhist monks, who used the mystical aromas in their purification rites, the delicate scents of Koh (high-quality Japanese incense) became a source of amusement and entertainment with nobles in the Imperial Court during the Heian Era 200 years later.

In China, incense usage reached its peak during the Song Dynasty with many buildings erected specifically for incense ceremonies.

During the 14th century Shogunate, a samurai warrior might perfume his helmet and armor with incense to achieve an aura of invincibility (as well as to make a noble gesture to whomever might take his head in battle). It wasn’t until the Muromachi Era during the 15th and 16th century that incense appreciation (Kōdō) spread to the upper and middle classes of Japanese society.

Composition

Some commonly used raw incense and incense-making materials (from top down, left to right) Makko powder (抹香;Machilus thunbergii), Borneolcamphor (Dryobalanops aromatica), Sumatra Benzoin(Styrax benzoin), Omanifrankincense (Boswellia sacra), Guggul (Commiphora wightii), Golden Frankincense (Boswellia papyrifera), the new world Tolu balsam (Myroxylon toluifera) from South America, Somali myrrh(Commiphora myrrha), Labdanum(Cistus villosus), Opoponax(Commiphora opoponax), and white Indian sandalwood powder (Santalum album)

Throughout history, a wide variety of materials have been used in making incense. Historically there has been a preference for using locally available ingredients. For example, sage and cedar were used by the indigenous peoples of North America. This was a preference, and ancient trading in incense materials from one area to another comprised a major part of commerce along the Silk Road and other trade routes, one notably called theIncense Route.

The same could be said for the techniques used to make incense. Local knowledge and tools were extremely influential on the style, but methods were also influenced by migrations of foreigners, among them clergy and physicians who were both familiar with incense arts.

Natural Solid Aromatics

The following fragrance materials can be employed in either direct- or indirect-burning incense. They are commonly used in religious ceremonies, and many of them are considered quite valuable. Essential oils or other extracted fractions of these materials may also be isolated and used to make incense. The resulting incense is sometimes considered to lack the aromatic complexity or authenticity of incense made from raw materials not infused or fortified with extracts.

 

Woods and barks

  • Aloeswood
  • Cassia
  • Cedar
  • Cinnamon
  • Cypress
  • Juniper
  • Sandalwood

Seeds and fruits

  • Cardamom
  • Coriander
  • Juniper
  • Nutmeg
  • Star anise
  • Vanilla
Resins and gums

  • Amber
  • Bdellium
  • Benzoin
  • Camphor
  • Copal
  • Dragon’s blood (a plant resin)
  • Elemi
  • Frankincense
  • Galbanum
  • Guggul (Indian Myrrh)
  • Kauri Gum
  • Labdanum
  • Mastic (plant resin)
  • Myrrh
  • Opoponax
  • Sandarac
  • Storax
  • Tolu balsam
Leaves

  • Balsam
  • Bay
  • Patchouli
  • Sage
  • Tea

Roots and rhizomes

  • Calamus
  • Costus
  • Galangal
  • Orris
  • Spikenard
  • Vetiver
Flowers and buds

  • Clove
  • Lavender
  • Saffron
  • Rose

Animal-derived materials

  • Ambergris
  • Civet
  • Musk
  • Operculum

Combustible base

A charcoal-based incense cone

The combustible base of a direct burning incense mixture not only binds the fragrant material together but also allows the produced incense to burn with a self-sustained ember, which propagates slowly and evenly through an entire piece of incense with such regularity that it can be used to mark time. The base is chosen such that it does not produce a perceptible smell. Commercially, two types of incense base predominate:

  • Fuel and oxidizer mixtures: Charcoal or wood powder forms the fuel for the combustion. Gums such as Gum Arabicor Gum Tragacanth are used to bind the mixture together while an oxidizer such as sodium nitrate or potassium nitratesustains the burning of the incense. Fragrant materials are combined into the base prior to formation as in the case of powdered incense materials or after formation as in the case of essential oils. The formula for the charcoal-based incense is superficially similar to black powder, though it lacks the sulfur.
  • Natural plant-based binders: Mucilaginous material, which can be derived from many botanical sources, is mixed with fragrant materials and water. The mucilage from the wet binding powder holds the fragrant material together while the cellulose in the powder combusts to form a stable ember when lit. The dry binding powder usually comprises about 10% of the dry weight in the finished incense. This includes:
    • Makko (抹香・末香 incense powder): made from the bark of various trees from the Persea such as Persea thunbergii (Jpn. 椨の木; たぶのき; Tabu-no-ki)
    • Xiangnan pi (香楠皮): made from the brak of Phoebe genus trees such as Phoebe nanmu (楠木), Persea zuihoensis (香楠).
    • Jigit: a resin based binder used in India
    • Laha or Dar: bark based powders used in Nepal, Tibet, and other East Asian countries.

Do You Know Your Fragrance Note?

Perfume is described in a musical metaphor as having three sets of notes, making the harmonious scent accord. The notes unfold over time, with the immediate impression of the top note leading to the deeper middle notes, and the base notes gradually appearing as the last stage. These notes are created carefully with knowledge of the evaporation process of the perfume.

Top notes: The scents that are perceived immediately on application of a perfume. Top notes consist of small, light molecules that evaporate quickly. They form a person’s initial impression of a perfume and thus are very important in the selling of a perfume. Also called the head notes.
Middle notes: The scent of a perfume that emerges just prior to when the top notes dissipate. The middle note compounds form the “heart” or main body of a perfume and act to mask the often unpleasant initial impression of base notes, which become more pleasant with time. They are also called the heart notes.
Base notes: The scent of a perfume that appears close to the departure of the middle notes. The base and middle notes together are the main theme of a perfume. Base notes bring depth and solidity to a perfume. Compounds of this class of scents are typically rich and “deep” and are usually not perceived until 30 minutes after application.

The scents in the top and middle notes are influenced by the base notes, as well the scents of the base notes will be altered by the type of fragrance materials used as middle notes. Manufacturers of perfumes usually publish perfume notes and typically they present it as fragrance pyramid, with the components listed in imaginative and abstract terms.

Olfactive Families

Grouping perfumes, like any taxonomy, can never be a complete objective or final process. Many fragrances contain aspects of different families. Even a perfume designated as “single flower”, however subtle, will have undertones of other aromatics. “True” unitary scents can rarely be found in perfumes as it requires the perfume to exist only as a singular aromatic material.

Classification by olfactive family is a starting point for a description of a perfume, but it cannot by itself denote the specific characteristic of that perfume.

Traditional

The traditional classification which emerged around 1900 comprised the following categories:

Single Floral: Fragrances that are dominated by a scent from one particular flower; in French called a soliflore. (e.g. Serge Lutens’ Sa Majeste La Rose, which is dominated by rose.)
Floral Bouquet: Is a combination of fragrance of several flowers in a perfume compound. Examples include Quelques Fleurs by Houbigant and Joyby Jean Patou.
Ambered, or “Oriental”: A large fragrance class featuring the sweet slightly animalic scents of ambergris or labdanum, often combined with vanilla,tonka bean, flowers and woods. Can be enhanced by camphorous oils and incense resins, which bring to mind Victorian era imagery of the Middle East and Far East. Traditional examples include Guerlain’s Shalimar and Yves Saint Laurent’s Opium.
Wood: Fragrances that are dominated by woody scents, typically of agarwood, sandalwood and cedarwood. Patchouli, with its camphoraceoussmell, is commonly found in these perfumes. A traditional example here would be Myrurgia’s Maderas De Oriente or Chanel Bois-des-Îles. A modern example would be Balenciaga Rumba.
Leather: A family of fragrances which features the scents of honey, tobacco, wood and wood tars in its middle or base notes and a scent that alludes to leather. Traditional examples include Robert Piguet’s Bandit and Balmain’s Jolie Madame.

Chypre (IPA: [ʃipʁ]): Meaning Cyprus in French, this includes fragrances built on a similar accord consisting of bergamot, oakmoss, patchouli, andlabdanum. This family of fragrances is named after a perfume by François Coty, and one of the most famous examples is Guerlain’s Mitsouko.
Fougère (IPA: [fu.ʒɛʁ]): Meaning Fern in French, built on a base of lavender, coumarin and oakmoss. Houbigant’s Fougère Royale pioneered the use of this base. Many men’s fragrances belong to this family of fragrances, which is characterized by its sharp herbaceous and woody scent. Some well-known modern fougères are Fabergé Brut and Guy Laroche Drakkar Noir.

Modern

Since 1945, due to great advances in the technology of perfume creation (i.e., compound design and synthesis) as well as the natural development of styles and tastes, new categories have emerged to describe modern scents:

Bright Floral: combining the traditional Single Floral & Floral Bouquet categories. A good example would be Estée Lauder’s Beautiful.
Green: a lighter and more modern interpretation of the Chypre type, with pronounced cut grass, crushed green leaf and cucumber-like scents. Two examples would be Estée Lauder’s Aliage or Sisley’s Eau de Campagne.
AquaticOceanic, or Ozonic: the newest category in perfume history, appearing in 1991 with Christian Dior’s Dune. A very clean, modern smell leading to many of the modern androgynous perfumes. Generally contains calone, a synthetic scent discovered in 1966. Also used to accent floral, oriental, and woody fragrances.
Citrus: An old fragrance family that until recently consisted mainly of “freshening” eau de colognes, due to the low tenacity of citrus scents. Development of newer fragrance compounds has allowed for the creation of primarily citrus fragrances. A good example here would be Brut.
Fruity: featuring the aromas of fruits other than citrus, such as peach, cassis (black currant), mango, passion fruit, and others. A modern example here would be Ginestet Botrytis.

Gourmand (French: [ɡuʁmɑ̃]): scents with “edible” or “dessert”-like qualities. These often contain notes like vanilla tonka bean and coumarin, as well as synthetic components designed to resemble food flavors. A sweet example is Thierry Mugler’s Angel. A savory example would be Dinner by BoBo, which has cumin and curry hints.

Fragrance Wheel

Fragrance Wheel perfume classification chart, ver. 1983

Main article: Fragrance wheel

The Fragrance wheel is a relatively new classification method that is widely used in retail and in the fragrance industry. The method was created in 1983 by Michael Edwards, a consultant in the perfume industry, who designed his own scheme of fragrance classification. The new scheme was created to simplify fragrance classification and naming scheme, as well as to show the relationships between the individual classes.

The five standard families consist of FloralOrientalWoodyFougère, and Fresh, with the former four families being more “classic” while the latter consisting of newer bright and clean smelling citrus and oceanic fragrances that have arrived due to improvements in fragrance technology. Each of the families are in turn divided into sub-groups and arranged around a wheel.