Friday, 24 March 2017

SAC (Sandesh) Patchouli

I like patchouli - in my hippy days I wore it as a perfume. Indeed, I carried on using it as a personal scent for many years. I liked its oily, musky, sweet scent. This does sort of have that patchouli quality, but its fairly soft, and is more herbal than oily.  I've enjoyed the Sandesh incense I have tried so far, but this one has disappointed me a little - I guess I was expecting too much. In fairness this is a decent enough scent, if a little gentle, and would have a use for subtly introducing a sensual mood into a room.

Score: 29

Thursday, 16 March 2017

SAC (Sandesh) Jasmine

Another fresh, bold perfume-dipped incense from SAC. This smells of mint and cucumber and reminds me of a raita. There is a creaminess and a sharpness. I can't say I'm getting much in the way of jasmine - any floral notes are hidden beneath the rather sharper scents. The sticks are very thinly rolled in charcoal, yet there is some awareness of burning coal dust.

This is not a special incense - it's just an everyday pick me up, and that's OK by me. This is way better than most scent-dipped sticks because it is the scent that I am mostly smelling, and it works for me. I like this. It'll give you a little brain prick, and snap you out of any lethargy. Nice one.

Score: 32

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

SAC (Sandesh) Champa

An everyday scented charcoal incense stick. This is pleasantly floral and with some juicy citric notes, though it is also a little crude and simplistic, and can be a bit harsh and hot. It is a fairly familiar perfume-dipped incense, but I quite like it. It's a decent scent, quite strong, and not offensive. There may be the merest hint of rubber in the scent, but it's OK. It's a lively morning incense that can brighten and waken a room. It is moderately uplifting, but is too simple and direct to have any deep emotional or mood altering significances.

The Champa name appears to refer to plumeria or frangipani, a fragrant flowering shrub, rather than the champaca of Nag Champa, which is a plant in the magnolia family.

Champa (or frangipani)
Not an incense I would use for special days or for when friends or guests come round, but is one I will use to freshen the house in the morning.

Score: 32


I have a plain wide packet of masala incense called dhuni. I think this was sent to me as a sample by Paul of Happy Hari for review, and it's only now I am getting round to it. In the meantime, Happy Hari has been removed from OTR's Hall of Fame, Paul has stopped following my blog, has removed links to me and to other incense blogs from his website, has stopped posting on his Facebook page, and Happy Hari has ceased trading There is also a story, unconfirmed, that Paul died during the Christmas period in 2016. I am so sorry Paul.

This is a lovely incense. Delicate and fragrant. There is wood and resin, yet also fruit. There is a warm, musky cologne, quite refined and sensual. There is a tangible, edible sweetness about this. The sticks are quite simply, almost crudely made. The bamboo is split by hand, so the thickness varies. The bamboo is then rolled in a charcoal base. It's a decent quality charcoal powder, as it doesn't impact on the scent at all. Then the stick is rolled in a masala of dried fragrant ingredients, and I suspect an essential oil, possibly from some citric fruit, is added. The finished result smells lovely on the stick, with a variety of scents to intrigue and tease, wandering around cologne, leather, sandalwood, and that elusive fruit. I like it. It doesn't quite excite and thrill me as my very very favourite incense does, but I am liking this, and shall be sad when the packet is empty.

From what I can gather, Dhuni is the brand name of a chap, Piers, who on a visit to India around 2010 discovered a masala incense maker, and decided to sell some in the UK. He created a website, which no longer exists, and he created two blogs to promote his incense - naturalincensesticks, and dhuninaturalincensesticks.  He put together a press release to promote his sticks. And in January 2011 he gave some samples to ORS, who enjoyed them a lot, and put his incense in their Hall of Fame. Encouraged by this he distributed a new press release,  In August 2013 he passed over the brand to Happy Hari, who has also now stopped trading.  So it seems that the brand has now ceased to exist - though there is another trader, Incense Fragrance of the Soul, who is using the Dhuni name on masala incense with hand split bamboo sticks.  Though Piers and Paul's brand has ceased to trade, their incense makers will continue to make masala incense, even if it's not for Incense Fragrance of the Soul, it will be for somebody. It may be that the same makers supply sticks for the Italian sellers Fiore D'Oriente as there is something I find in common between the two, though I like this Dhuni a little more.

Score: 42

Incense Around the World

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Al Haramain Bukhoor Al Watani

This is my first experience with bukhoor incense - an Arabian/Persian incense which is created from agarwood soaked in fragrant oils. I love agarwood anyway, so already I know I am going to like this. Al Haramain, as I understand it, is one of the leading Arabian incense companies, so I bought four different bukhoor blocks on eBay for £10.  And then I wanted a proper bukhoor burner, or mabkhara, and these days they are electric, which makes things so much quicker, easier, and safer than using charcoal. Unfortunately the first one I ordered has still not arrived, so - impatient to get started, I ordered another one on eBay from tawakkalperfumes for £5.45 plus postage, and it arrived today - the next day.  The burner is so easy to use - I cut open the bukhoor packet, and break off a bit of the moist and crumbly incense which is inside a small plastic container, and simply drop it into the dish at the top of the burner, and turn on the switch. It takes a moment to warm up and then the incense fills the air. On first use there are some oils that get burned off, so there is a slightly unpleasant smell of onion sweat - you know that sweat from someone who eats a lot of onions. Yes. Hmm. But once that goes, and it just appears to be the very first time, everything is OK.

This Al Watani is lovely. There is a bold sweetness about it when first approaching it, then in comes some balancing astringent cologne. It is quite a perfumed incense, but that balance of sweetness and sharpness, keeps it all interesting. There's oranges, and herbs, and cool, damp sand on a summer's day. This is a shifting, exotic, and at all times gentle incense. There is a lot going on, but it never happens at the same time - it shifts and melds, and changes gradually and surprisingly - something new slipping along to surprise you. Absolutely stunning! I really love this, and it has got me excited about incense again. I particularly love that it all smells alive and natural, and I am not getting the abrasive qualities I get from a lot of Indian masala incense, or the chemical harshness I find in some dipped perfume incense. Nor am I getting the smoky, earthy, cow dung of the Tibetan and Chinese incense I've tried. And it has more presence and vitality than Japanese incense I've tried, and at a much lower cost.  I think I may have discovered in this Arabian incense,a whole new, exciting world to explore - and one that seems to suit me exactly! Weeeeeeeeeeee!

Score: 45


Incense Around the World

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Maroma Incense of Auroville Frankincense

I like frankincense, so I ordered a pack of these sticks while browsing on Sound Travels for some Himalayan Rope Incense. It's £2.50 for a pack of ten perfume dipped sticks.

I became quite interested in the companies involved in the making and distribution of this incense as I opened the packet, as there is evidence of care for the environment in the packaging, and I was becoming intrigued as I surfed the net for information on Auroville and Maroma. Sadly, the incense was not living up to my expectations  - the aroma is more about the base organic material than about the frankincense - indeed, I wonder where the frankincense actually is as it is so faint and dominated so much by other aromas.  The main aromas are of  the burning of wood powder, coal dust, dried cow dung, paint, and solvent. There's a bit of heat in the aroma as well, though not enough to sting.  The packet is a plain stiff naturally made paper, yellow coloured with slightly blurry orange text with a simple flower design. The simplicity of it is quite attractive, The text is translated into five languages, so this incense goes round the world. The packet has a black print stamp at the bottom saying it is distributed in the UK by First Natural Brands, and gives a himalaya-uk web address which appears to have been taken over by a Japanese Viagra company! The Himalaya-UK company got taken over  in 2012 by  First Natural Brands, who are reviewed by Natural Products Online here.

Maroma is part of the fascinating sounding Auroville project - a town in South India intended to bring together in harmony people from all nationalities.  All Maroma incense is fair trade, and the company is run in a socially conscious way.

I love the sound of the project, and would be interested to discover more about the Maroma product line (the name comes from Mother and Aroma and back to Mother), though I am slightly put off by the aroma on this one. Chrissie just walked past and said "It smells like a church in here", which is her standard comment when I burn frankincense,  so perhaps I need to stand back from this incense a little, and allow it to do its work less directly.  Ooh, it's burning a little distance behind me now, and I am picking up little whiffs of cannabis resin. Interesting.

Score: 20

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Stamford Mythical Black Incense Goblin's Lair

Oooh, this has a spicy cinnamon and clove aroma. Quite strong on the cone, it is less evident while burning, being blurred somewhat by the base sawdust.  Quite likeable, but not refined or heavenly. A basic everyday scent, which promises more than it delivers. But tt's OK, and it does spice up a room and leave a pleasantly warm and invigorating scent.

Score: 26

"Mythical" Black Incense cones

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Friday, 10 March 2017

Stamford Mythical Black Incense Pixie's Dance

This has a sombre tone - rubber bands and drying paint, quite serious and quiet and slightly studious. Not at all what I would associate with pixies or dancing. The names of these cones appear to be selected quite randomly. The scents are varied - some lighter and sweeter than others; and some are more fun and enjoyable than others. Most are pleasant, but not all. For such an interesting theme, the scents are pretty random. Some work for me, and others less so. This one is not fun, not heavenly, but not offensive either - it's just meh. It'll burn away and inform the room, but in such a sombre, neutral tone, it's like painting the room in brown.  Stretching for positive points - well, it's warm, has some woody, and reasonably pleasant sandalwood, so can give some backbone to a grey, foggy Saturday.  But, yeah, mostly meh.

Score: 28

"Mythical" Black Incense cones

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Dr. Yonten’s Tibetan Healing Incense

This is a small red box of healing incense which is variously called "Himalayan Healing Incense", "Tibetan Healing Incense", "Original Healing Incense" and "Dr Pasang Yonten's Healing Incense". I note there are boxes available on the internet in various colours and names which all seem to relate to a recipe devised by Dr Pasang Yonten which involves 31 natural ingredients.

Dr Pasang Yonten

Dr Yonton's life history is outlined here, and given in more detail here. He is closely associated with the Tibetan Medical and Astro Institute, also known as Men-Tsee-Khang, and is an expert on Tibetan dream interpretation as part of a healing process, as he explains in this interview.

In my box the sticks were wrapped in a piece of yellow paper with some description of the incense and instructions for use.

It is claimed the incense cures headaches, back and chest pain, insomnia, and stress, among other ailments. This may well be true - it's always worth keeping an open mind, and different things work in different ways for different folk. I found the aroma to be on a par with other Tibetan incense I have burned - it is somewhat acrid and crude. It is not an incense I can remain in the same room with for long periods while it burns, and it doesn't create any positive moods for me. There's a rugged old fashioned men's deodorant scent about it, and a sort of woodsy, outdoors, camp fire smell. It's like your old man's Old Spice stained cardigan after he's come in from burning some compost and damp wood in the garden bonfire.

I'm curious about Tibetan incense, and will keep trying it, but I'm not quite getting there with it yet.

Score: 26


Incense Around the World

Thursday, 9 March 2017

FlyAway Citronella Incense Coil

There are several uses for incense, and one of them is for keeping insects away. There are some dedicated incense just for that purpose, usually just for outdoor use, and this is one such. The aroma is not that pleasant - some base sawdust mixed with a lemon tinged chemical note.  When we eat outside we often burn incense, and we like to use some of our favourite incense that is going to produce a good mood, just as we do indoors. There's no need to go cheap and nasty just because you're outside. You can still smell it when you're outside, and so can your neighbours, so give everyone a break and burn stuff that smells nice. Leave stuff like this on the shop shelf. This stuff is imported by Manchester based company, 151Products Ltd, who also own the incense brand Pan Aroma.

Score: 8

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Stamford Mythical Black Magic Mermaid's Love

Mermaid's Love has a gentle floral aroma with hints of jasmine, which creates a tranquil mood. It's quite creamy, like soap or skin scream, yet has a pleasant edge like fresh sweet tobacco. There is plenty going on here to keep the interest while the room is harmonised in an interesting way. This is a decent little scent, and I quite like it.

Score: 33

"Mythical" Black Incense cones

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Stamford Mythical Black Magic Vampire's Kiss

I do like this Stamford Black series - the theme is fun, and the scents are mostly quite yummy. This is sweet yet medicinal with sharp notes, and beneath that is a bed of flower petals creating an hallucinatory scene of losing consciousness during an erotic seduction on a hot summer's night in a dentist chair..... Interesting!

Some of the base sandalwood comes through as burning sawdust, but not enough to spoil the fun. I like Vampire's Kiss, it's a fun everyday scent.

Score: 34

"Mythical" Black Incense cones

Other ratings of incense by Aargee