Saturday, 17 December 2016

Stamford Black Incense Witches' Curse

Has a pleasing sweet candy fragrance on the cone which is less apparent when burning. It's an OK scent, which has some fruity floral memory of the cone aroma, but is less attractive. Soft smoke with mild sandalwood and musk undertones. It's OK, but there's a lack of imagination about this. Overall a soft, pleasant and relaxing scent which harmonises with the home and creates a gentle atmosphere. There's a mild hint of seduction, so could be used when you invite someone home you fancy, but don't wish to make it obvious.

Score: 28

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Thursday, 10 November 2016

Sifcon International Enchanting Bouquet Variety Pack

I like that general hardware stores are selling incense, so I always support the initiative by buying. I picked up this set of four fragrances for £1.29 from my local general hardware store. To be honest I wasn't expecting much as these cheap incense sticks tend to be charcoal sticks dipped in some cheap perfume solvent that fades, so when burning what you get is the base organic material rather than the perfume fragrance. This Enchanted Bouquet, however, is quite charming, and is excellent value for money. The aromas are fairly simple floral notes, but very pleasant and ideal for everyday use. They have an attractive scent when burning, and the scent lingers for an impressive amount of time. They are great for freshening up a house in the morning or before visitors. They are not exotic or special enough for burning while visitors are in the house, or for intimate occasions, but they are better than basic toilet fresheners. They make for great everyday incense.  I like them a lot.

They are made in India for the UK based  Sifcon International company who are a wholesalers dealing in household goods. The sticks are not perfume dipped, but are made from natural hand rolled masala ingredients. I don't know what the arrangement Sifcon has with the manufacturers - if they are, like Aargee, working with a large company such as  Mysore Sugandhi, or, like Gokula and Happy Hari,  if they commission directly themselves from a smaller independent producer, but they are clearly using folks who are making the sticks in a traditional manner, and  - importantly for me - are doing it the way that most incense in Indian is made, rather than the current hip American way of including halmaddi. Halmaddi, for me, intrudes on an incense, and has unpleasant physical side-effects. I am possibly unique in this, as halmaddi is very popular in America, and increasingly so here in the UK where importers like Aargee are commissioning more and more incense made with it. But I am pleased whenever I find a decent incense that doesn't use halmaddi. I feel physically better off for it, feel financially better off as halmaddi use is expensive, and feel morally better off as the tree from which halmaddi is extracted is under constant threat of extinction due to the demand in the West for incense made from it.

This is an excellent find, and I will be buying a stock of them, and hope the company extends its range, and is successful. I would love to see more everyday incense being sold in general stores and in supermarkets. I feel sad when I pass by the air freshener aisle and see all the chemicals on display there, and absolutely no incense. We have aerosol sprays which harm the atmosphere, and we have plug-ins which use energy. We have chemicals of all sorts. But none of the big supermarkets carry  natural and beautiful hand rolled masala incense.


Mildly sharp with an invigorating freshness verging on lemon. There are flowery notes behind the lemon, and a sense of the floral quality of roses. Quite impressive for the price.

Score: 34


Flowery with vanilla overtones and a sense of soapy linen. Freshens a room pleasantly with a natural scent. Not heavy or intrusive - simply pleasant. Excellent value everyday scent. The only complaint is that it is underwhelming and a little ordinary, but sometimes that is just what we want.

Score: 32

Lotus Lake

The mildest and most subtle of the four, there is perhaps too much intrusion of the base organic material in the floral notes, though that could be the result of inadequate rolling in this batch than the ingredients or menu. The perfumes inclines a little more toward rose than lotus.

Score: 29


Predominantly floral though not heady. The perfume drifts on the breeze. It's not faint, simply soft and gentle. There's some sandalwood underlying this giving a sensual warmth. This is perhaps the most evening accented of the four scents. I really like this one.

Score: 35

Overall score: 33

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Stamford Black Incense Fairy's Mist

There's a sherbet sweet, slightly medicinal, slightly acidic scent on the cone which is reasonably pleasant, but also slightly volatile and chemical like. On burning it smells like cheap old fashioned perfume, what my wife calls "Old ladies' knickers". It has a sort of sharp lingering damp rose smell which catches in the throat.

I don't like this. There appears to be little difference between this and some cheap and nasty air freshener spray.

Score: 9

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Sunday, 9 October 2016

Stamford Black Incense Demon's Lust

From the sublime to the ridiculous. Unicron's Grace was a lovely incense, full of sweetness and charm, while this Demon's Lust is just another bog-standard cheap cone which has no scent, only the smell of the base material. There is a pleasant violet aroma on the cone, and that may account for the lack of scent when burning, as the chemical component of violets that produces the scent is ionone, which then binds to the scent receptors in the nose and shuts them off to that scent temporarily. It may be that there is so much ionone in the cone, or a particular quirk of burning it, means that it immediately switches off the scent receptors, so all that can be smelt is the base material. Anyway, not much cop these cones. On a level with the bargain basement stuff you can buy off eBay in various gaudy colours.

Score: 19

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Saturday, 8 October 2016

Stamford Black Incense Unicorn's Grace

Unicorn's Grace is part of Stamford's "Black Incense" series. The full set of 12 scents is available from Bargain Shop on Amazon for £12.38 including postage. There are twelve cones in each box, along with one of those thin metal stands which are actually little use as the heat goes through them. Our family love the myth theme of the series, and my daughter chose this one to burn first as she loves unicorns. It has a rose and grassy aroma touched with some sandalwood. The blurb on the box says: "Adore the mythical aroma of Aloe vera in Unicorn's Grace, its magical presence is sure to transport you to a serene and tranquil land." It is relaxing, and very pleasant. The scent on the cones is sweet, jammy and sherbet like with some herby, medicine-like peaks.

Made in India by an unknown source, these are not charcoal perfumed-dipped cones, but cones made by hand from natural fragrant ingredients. These are lovely.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

The Candle Company Floral Scented Incense Sticks

A set of six packs of floral scented sticks, each pack with eight sticks machine extruded and colour coded to suit the named fragrance. Bought for something cheap in a 99p or £1 store - or maybe a local hardware store. Bought more to support the notion of incense being sold rather than aerosols to freshen up a room. I didn't expect these to be any good. But for a toilet freshener they are cheap as chips, excellent value for money, and less harmful to the environment.

The names of the different packs are Lily, Rose, Lotus, Blossom, Lavender, and Jasmine, but they all end up smelly pretty much the same. The aroma is just the base sawdust. It just smells of burning wood. They are not of much use except to cover up bad smells in the kitchen or toilet. But they at least are not offensive.

The brand is The Candle Company. The company who imports the sticks are ITP Imports of Yorkshire who have an online site Discount Warehouse. They sell them wholesale for 52p a unit

Score:  12

Monday, 19 September 2016

Stamford Dragon's Fire

Just picked up an almost empty pack of these that had fallen under my desk. I had assumed I'd already reviewed them, but couldn't remember doing so, so came to my blog to check, and find that I hadn't. So here we are. I haven't been doing much incense reviewing for a while - I've been busy on some of my other blogs, and on Real Life. I really need to get busy because I am surrounded by almost empty packets of incense, plus plenty of samples I've been sent which I haven't got around to doing.

This is a nice incense. I tend to like Aargee products. They use a selection of manufacturers, some great, some good, and some not quite so good. They seem, however, to have an incense for every occasion and for every person.  This incense seems to be marketed at those who wish to create a mood, and are perhaps into crystals and healing. The aroma is benzoin and musk. It's warm, seductive, and relaxing. There's a pleasant touch of spice just to stir things up a little. Nice.

And it leaves a pleasant sweet infusion in the room for over 12 hours afterwards. I like when an incense has a lasting and pleasant aroma.

Score: 30

Other ratings of incense by Aargee

Saturday, 13 August 2016

Stamford Chakra Muladhara Root Incense Cones

I reviewed the Chakra Muladhara Root incense sticks back in August 2013, and I loved them, giving them a score of 40, which put them into my Top Ten best incense.  The scent is a blend of myrrh and patchouli, two of my favourite scent sources. This review is for the cones, which are made from the same ingredients, though prapred slightly differently. The sticks are made from a charcoal paste rolled around a bamboo stick and then rolled over a masala mix of ground down myrrh and patchouli. The cones appear to also utilise charcoal paste, but also makko, which is an odourless flammable material like charcoal.

Monday, 25 July 2016

Satya Nag Champa Fresh Rose Dhoop Cones

Tatty little box of cones found near the bottom of my incense collection. The seal had been broken, so I've burned these in the past, and the remainder have been exposed to the air, so they are not fresh. I'm not getting any of the high floral notes, just the basic base notes. Really no point in giving a score as they are not as they should be. Put this here as a marker to remind me to get some fresh cones to rate.

Satya (Shrinivas Sugandhalaya of Bangalore)

Best rose incense

Goloka Chandan Dhoop Cones

I love sandalwood (chandan), and I love Goloka incense, so a Goloka made sandalwood is heaven. I've already rated the sticks, back in April 2013, and gave them a high score of 46. I bought a large box of the cones last year, but haven't got around until now to rating them. I love the cones. Soft and very yummy. I did have a rummage in my box and in my drawers for the sticks, but while I have lots and lots of Goloka sticks, none of them are the sandalwood, so I can't do a side by side comparison of the cones and the sticks. That will have to wait until I order some more incense (probably not for a long while as I have too much to work through already!)

This is a very refined scent. The wood is fresh, warm, woody - with a sort of polished quality. The smoke is soft and suggestive and very pleasant, so everything is soft and inviting, with no harshness, assertiveness, or sharpness. There is an enveloping seductive warmth about this which makes it suitable for all occasions. Great for the bedroom with it's spicy seductive undertones, also great for welcoming quests with its warm inviting friendliness, great for everyday use with its lingering gentle woody tones. A great incense.

Score: 42



Satya Sai Baba Nag Champa Dhoop Cones

Having a rummage at the bottom of my incense box for some more cones for our cone bowl in the bathroom (we use cones instead of air freshener sprays - you use the toilet, you light a cone....), and I come upon this old box of Satya's Nag Champa cones. It's from 2014, but - as with so much incense I have in the house - I hadn't yet got around to rating it. I burn it and it's quite soft, and doesn't have the prickly edge or freshness of the sticks. So I rummage and find a box of the Satya Nag Champa agarbatti to do a side by side comparison. Yes, straight-away I note that prickly edge, and the damp lambs wool. But also I am getting a lot of petrol fumes which I don't recall having experienced previously. I look at the box and it says "2012 series". Does that really mean it was made in 2012? Is it really that old? I recall buying a large supply quite cheaply a few years ago, and this is what is left of that supply. It might be worth getting some fresh (perhaps "2016 series"), and making a comparison. I'm not enjoying either of these. The cones are the least objectionable as they are quite soft. with a flowery, almost rose like quality, that I don't really associate with Nag Champa, but which is quite pleasant, while the sticks are fairly sharp and assertive, with that petrol fume aroma which is quite off-putting.

Score is for the cones.

Score:  33

Nag Champa

Satya (Shrinivas Sugandhalaya of Bangalore)

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Bloome Incense Garden Strawberries

I've been fairly quiet on my incense blog recently - hoping to get reviewing again soon as I have a huge backlog of reviews to do. But even though I already have more incense in my house than I know what to do with, I saw this and some other Bloome incense in my local 99p store yesterday and grabbed them as I like to encourage the selling of incense in general stores, and also I was curious. I expected them to be pretty poor, as they are 99p for 80 sticks, and there is a wooden incense holder included with each pack. But they're not bad. This is not sophisticated incense, the scent is basic and uninspired - this one is strawberry, others are cherry and apple. Anyway, regardless of the simplicity,  the scents are fresh and lively, and brighten up a room.  This one does have a garden strawberry aroma both on the stick and while burned.

I've never seen these before, and on looking on the internet I find they are available all over the place in online 99p stores (as well as the usual Amazon and eBay, though at much higher prices). Here's a typical outlet, the Just99p site. They are distributed by a company called OTL, who are based in Yorkshire, and offer a range of goods for discount and 99p stores. No indication of where they are made, but they are a basic charcoal paste hand rolled round a long stick, and then coated in a fine coloured powder which contains the fragrances, such as linalool, which is found in plants such as lavender, and which produces what we typical call a "floral" aroma; and citral, which is found in lemongrass, and gives, yes, a lemon aroma; and is then dipped in perfume chemicals such as limonene which gives an orange scent; and benzyl benzoate, which is used in the perfume industry as a fixative, plus having a sweet balsamic aroma of its own - a kind of modern version of  halmaddi, which is both a fixative in traditional incense, and has its own aroma. I should image the sticks are made by one of the modern Indian incense companies such as HEM, GR International, or Sarathi.

Not sophisticated, interesting, or in any way uplifting, this is bargain basement everyday incense. And it works fine. I burn a lot of incense. I will typically get through 15 sticks in a day. I like to have pleasant scents around me, and use incense for a variety of purposes, and to help create various moods. This incense is not for any special occasions, but works perfectly well as an everyday room freshener, and to give a lift to a tired room. I like it. And I think it's the best value incense I have ever bought. I wouldn't normally think of buying such cheap incense twice, but I'd be happy to buy this again. 99p for 80 sticks that actually smell sweet, fresh, and attractive. I'm surprised and impressed. Nice one.

Score: 33

See also

GR International Strawberry
HEM Cherry Vanilla
GR International Tangerine
Match Incense: Daisy, Kiwi, & Pineapple
GR International Greenapple cones
Joie Peach
Joie Green Apple
Joie Orange

(I hadn't realised I had rated so many fruit fragranced incense - I think I should start a page just on fruit fragrances!)