Around the World with Incense
Incense has been used for thousands of years by a wide variety of cultures. Here we have everything you need to know on the different types of incense and how it is used around the world.
Indian incense can be divided into two categories: charcoal and masala.
Charcoal incense is generally black in colour and is made by dipping an unscented stick - or "blank" as it is called professionally - into a mixture or perfumes and essential oils. The blanks often have a binding resin which is usually sandalwood that keeps the ingredients together.
Masala incense is named after the Hindi word for "spice mixture". Made by blending together a number of solid scented ingredients into a paste and then rolling that paste onto a bamboo stick to act as the core of the incense.
There are three sub-groups of masala incense - dubars, champas and dhoops.
Tibetan incense has a characteristically earthy scent and uses ingredients such as clove and cinnamon as well as less familiar fragrances such as kusum flower. Tibetan incense is made to traditional recipes that are sourced from ancient Vedic texts and are said to contain medicinal properties.
Japanese incense uses two key ingredients - Jinko (Agarwood) and Byakudan (Sandalwood). The weight of the resin in the incense made from Jinko is much heavier than that of Indian incenses. Byakudan is loved for its calming properties, and the majority of sandalwood is imported from Mysore in Karnataka, India.
Another ingredient in Japanese incense is Kyara, a type of Agar that is currently worth more than its weight in gold.
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