Tag Archive | Personal Hygiene

Ladies….Do you know which are Fall and Winter fragrances?

When the air starts to get a little nippy and my sweaters come out of the closet, I start thinking about cold weather perfumes. I put away my summer scents and find creamy, spicy, deep fragrances with the rich, comforting notes of cinnamon, cardamom, labdanum, almond, Tahitian vanilla, bergamot tea, and warm woods.

From heavy-hitting classics like Penhaligon’s Bluebell (woody, earthy and soft, with a few sweet florals) to inexpensive but delicious scents like Carol’s Daughter Almond Cookie (just plain yummy), there are fragrances here for every taste and budget, but all of the entries promise to make you feel like you’re curled up under a comfy throw with something warm to sip on. Click through to get a little

Here, we’ve compiled a short list of fabulous fragrances for women that are cozy and informal, and are perfect to wear when the mercury plummets below zero.

The One by Dolce and Gabbana is a perfect winter perfume thanks to its contrast of strong and warm sweetness. Classified as an oriental yet with a modern style, The One will satisfy even the most demanding women. With a classical touch of glamour look, The One by Dolce and Gabbana is a feminine fragrance with notes of bergamot, mandarin, peach, plum, jasmine, vetiver  vanilla, amber and musk.

Angel by Thierry Mugler has a cold look and an unusual design. It an ideal perfume for energetic and flirty perfume lovers. Possessing notes of chocolate, vanilla, caramel and juicy fruits this perfume becomes sex-appealing and eye-catching.  Thierry MuglerAngel preserves its charm alive for long time.

212 VIP by Carolina Herrera is a chic and outstanding fragrance – one of my favorite winter perfumes form one of my favorite brand. This sophisticated and feminine perfume possesses exotic notes of gardenia heart, musk, vanilla and Tonka bean. Carolina Herrera 212 VIP will make an ideal perfume for young and ambitious people – who love attention and popularity.

Juicy Couture – Viva La Juicy La Fleur

Viva la Juicy La Fleur is a sheer veil of sparkling mandarin and wild berries, combined with luminous florals of lush honeysuckle, gardenia petals, and soft jasmine. A whisper of creamy gourmand reminiscent of the Classic Viva la Juicy elicits an addiction that envelops the skin.

Notes:
Wild Berries, Mandarin, Honeysuckle, Gardenia Petals, Soft Jasmine, Vanilla, Caramel, Sandalwood.
Style:
Sheer. Modern. Addictive.

Givenchy Dahlia Noir

Dahlia Noir, a feminine and mysterious name referring to a flower that does not exist: the black dahlia, a flower of paradox. The dahlia is a flower that is very symptomatic of Givenchy’s style, structured and rigorous, yet very feminine and soft. The black color in the name adds a mysterious effect to the fragrance.

Notes:
Pink Pepper, Mandarin, Cedrat, Rose, Peach, Cedarwood, Sandalwood, Vanilla, Amber.
Style:
Elegant. Feminine. Mysterious.

HERMÈS Eau des Merveilles


Eau des Merveilles tells the tale of an imaginary journey at Hermès, the feet on the ground, the head among the stars. A modern fairy tale, bursting with charm and mystery. The perfume of enchantment, capturing the spirit of wood, the memory of the oceans, and the sparkle of a constellation.

Woody, Amber.

Escada Sexy Graffiti

A magical summer moment, when the late New York afternoon sun gives way to a fun party atmosphere, inspired this fragrance. Sexy Graffiti is a bright and wearable fruity floral fragrance. At the top notes, you’ll inhale wild strawberry and raspberry, a fruity sorbet brought to life with the sharpness of grapefruit and a subtle minty note. Its happy heart pulses with enlivening notes of lily of the valley, red peony, and violets. The base notes draw one in with cashmere, vanilla, and musks.

Notes:
Wild Strawberry, Raspberry, Pink Grapefruit, Blackcurrant, Lilly of the Valley, Red Peony, Violet, Cashmeran, Vanilla, Musks.
Style:
Bright. Happy. Sexy.

JUSTIN BIEBER GIRLFRIEND

GIRLFRIEND is an enticing fragrance made to get your heart racing as you experience that feeling of getting personal with Justin. One spray and you’ll finally experience the exhilaration of holding on and never letting go. Every touch, every breath—all captured in a flirty, new scent. Dare to get closer?

Notes:
Sparkling Pear, Crisp Mandarin, Rich Blackberry, Mara Strawberry, Pink Freesia, Star Jasmine, Apricot Nectar, Orange Blossom, Vanilla Orchid, Luminous Musk.
Style:
Flirty. Personal. Inviting.

Hanae Mori No. 6


Bergamot and mandarin blends with blackcurrant to intensify the fruity freshness of this delicate fragrance. Thebouquet of jasmine, orange blossom, and peony highlight the elegant floral notes, while modern musks fuse with sandalwood to enhance the warmth and sensuality of this feminine scent.

Notes:
Bergamot, Mandarin, Blackcurrant, Jasmine, Orange Blossom, Peony, Musk, Sandalwood.
Style:
Delicate. Feminine. Sensual.

Guerlain – La Petite Robe Noire

Its simple signature enhances and romances several exceptional materials in a bold overdose—black cherry blinks the first wink. It is illustrated by a clever blend that extends exquisite almond and delicious berries. The second wink takes place as rose enters the stage. Finally, the shadowy temptations of licorice and smoky black tea are ever-so-revealing and lead to irresistible seduction. For the ultimate temptation, the entire creation is wrapped in Guerlinade—fresh, enigmatic, and exhilarating, mischievous and captivating.
Style:
Fresh. Enigmatic. Exhilarating

Fendi Fan di Fendi -Fan di Fendi is the fragrance you just adore to adore. Like a hit refrain, it’s insistent, addictive, and irresistible. Electrifying you, possessing you, haunting you. Getting under your skin, inhabiting you. Notes:
Pear-blackcurrant Accord, Tangerine from Calabria, Pink Peppercorn from Reunion Island, Damascena Rose, Yellow Jasmine Accord, Patchouli from Indonesia, Soft Leather Accord.
Style:
Luminous. Sensual. Addictive.

Gucci Guilty Intense- An intensified olfactory experience, Gucci Guilty Intense adds a twist to Gucci Guilty, making it more provocative, more sensual.

Notes:
Mandarin, Pink Pepper, Peach, Lilac, Geranium, Ambery Notes, Patchouli.
Style:
Audacious. Provocative. Alluring.

Taylor Swift Wonderstruck-Taylor’s personal life experiences inspired this fragrance. Just like her creative approach to songwriting, every element is authentic, embracing all that is special about Taylor.
Notes:
Freesia, Green Tea, Apple Blossom, Raspberry, Dewberry.
Style:
Sparkling. Blushing. Enchanted.

Marc Jacobs Oh, Lola! – Flirtatious, charming, and sparkling with lighthearted personality, this fragrance leaves you flirting with your senses! It bursts open with a bright and whimsical effervescence. At the heart of the fragrance is the playful scent of peony. As the scent dries down, a flirty and elegant trail gives you an unexpected touch of fun that makes you smile!
Notes:
Raspberry, Vanilla, Peony, Pear, Cyclaman.
Style:
Vibrant. Flirtatious. Lighthearted.

Dior Addict To Life –For the confident woman who knows what she wants, she lives life fully and intensely. Dior Addict to Life is an addictive floral that opens with a bouquet of precious flowers. The bouquet has a natural freshness with sparkling rose, vibrant jasmine, lilac, and white musk.

Notes:
Jasmine, Lilac, Rose, White Musk.
Style:
Captivating. Intense. Fresh. Floral.

Lola Velvet by Marc Jacobs is the perfect accessory for those women who are glamorous, sexy, stylish and modern. Thanks to its nice design, Lola Velvet evokes warm memories of sunny summer days full of colorful colors. It is a seductive fragrance with notes of pink peppercorn, Ruby Red Grapefruit, rose, geranium, vanilla, Tonka bean, and musk. Lola Velvet by Marc Jacobs has a truly feminine bottle perfect as a Valentine’s Day gift and for winter days.

 

Youth Dew Amber Nude by Estée Lauder
This creation – overseen by Tom Ford – is a modern twist on a rich, opulent classic. Youth Dew Amber Nude is a soft amber floral with fresh tea, magnolia, ginger, black rose, jasmine, red carnation, and boasts one of the most enjoyable autumnal dry downs of patchouli, amber and dark chocolate!

Flowerbomb by Victor & Rolf
Lavish in the cotton-candy gourmand lusciousness that is Flowerbomb this winter! A tender opening of bergamot and beautiful florals including jasmine, freesia and rose, linger over a delicious patchouli vanilla heart.

Opium by Yves Saint Laurent
A resolutely timeless perfume, YSL’s Opium is still a smoldering blend of exotic florals and lush, ambery resins… its sumptuous, rich and complex heart of incense and spices will bewitch and bedazzle as the weather takes a turn for the worse.

Insolence by Guerlain
There are few fragrances that evoke a tender moment of reflection quite like Guerlain’s Insolence. Delicate notes of violet, rose, red berries, dry iris, creamy tonka bean, sandalwood and musk will envelop you like a soft cashmere blanket, and evoke fond feelings of nostalgia and remembrance.

Do you have a Favorite Calvin Klein Scent?

Calvin Klein has been introducing his fragrances for men and women over the years and has remained a top seller among the market of fragrances. Calvin Klein’s fragrances entice us with refreshing blends of exotic flowers, herbs, spices, and scents of the woods that create the distinct aroma of Calvin Klein’s perfumes fitting the various moods of a men and women all over the world. A favorite among many, Calvin never seems to keep us excited and in love with his perfume collections.

His collections include the Eternity perfumes that were introduced in 1988 for men and women designed with the scents of vitalizing blends of fresh flowers. Eternity is the perfect touch to inspire any day. In 1985, Obsession revitalized the senses with a refreshing blend of aromas of the orient. This collection is also recommended for invigorating your day and carries the scent of the most exotic oriental scents. Included is Obsession Night that has a smooth blend of patchouli, cardamom, leather, black suede, and the warm scent of the woods. The fragrances of Calvin Klein can bring warmth and nature into your day. The latest, Euphoria collection is a seductive and brings new meaning to the modern day idea of sexiness. The fresh blends of oriental accents carry the fragrance of a modern freshness. Ginger, sage, black basil, cedar leaf, and amber are just some of the exotic plants used to create this seductive fragrance.

Calvin Klein is dedicated to only inspiring the best of fragrances. His fragrances will always be a classic to many and bring inspiration to lives through his natural and contemporary scents. Major shops and specialty shops prize the collections of Calvin Klein. Known all over the world for his wonderful aromas, people will continue to fall in love with the wonderful fragrances created by Calvin Klein.

The Fall Season is here….Do You Like Spicy Scents?

As the weather is getting cooler, a spicy, woody fragrance is something I’ve been looking for, for say, the past week or so.  What fragrance are you warming up to this season as the weather gets cooler?

Here are some scents I think will work best to cozy on up to with the chilly upcoming season.

First up on the list is ALIEN by Thierry Mugler.  Alien is a gorgeous scent, mysterious and magical, with a composition consisting of warm white amber, woodsy notes, and Indian Jasmine.  What I really love about this one is the combination of vanilla, amber, and orange blossom notes with the hint of woods to create a spicy, oriental scent that is not too overpowering.

Next up on the list…..Sensous Estee Lauder perfume, a woody, floral yet sweet scent. Like the bottle, the fragrance is very simple and elegant, with notes of magnolia, ghost lily accord, honey molten woods, jasmine petals, sandalwood, amber, juicy mandarin pulp, and black pepper.  The woodsy scent is subtle, but sensuous.

Next? This hard to find fragrance, Kenzo Jungle L’Elephant is a warm, sweet and spicy scent that is considered a ‘spicy floral’ fragrance.  The combination of airy mandarin, cumin, clove, ylang-ylang, licorice, mango and heliotrope wrapped in patchouli, vanilla, amber and cashmere, create a lovely  intense and sensual trace.  Is this the ‘one’?

Lastly, this woodsy, oriental fragrance by Prada is based on amber.  This is the kind of fragrance that sweeps you off of your feet. It’s a very heavy, sharp yet balmy, woody scent, and might I add, is quite long-lasting. The four main ‘essences’ of the fragrance are Indian sandalwood, Indonesian patchouli, French labdanum resin, and Siam benzoin.

 

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.