Saturday, 16 May 2015

Aromatika Ace Scents Opium

Machine made - very even dried paste on a stick lightly tip dyed a beige/brown. The paste is dyed turquoise. Beautiful scent on the stick. Like perfume. Candy sweet .with light touches of camphor, pine, honey and vanilla underpinned by suggestions of musk and sandalwood and patchouli . It's a fairly sophisticated and quite modern aroma. Not one I would think is like opium. There's a lot going on. Gentle citric tones, just vanishing. Hints of clove and cinnamon. Very nice. On burning, the base material is dominant, and the really delightful notes from the stick are not  making themselves felt enough. Some of the base notes - the sandalwood and musk, come through, but the citric fruits and the spices are not quite there. It's certainly very pleasant, but there's a lack of strength and impact, and a lack of clarity and definition. This is certainly a more sophisticated and subtle scent than the Dragon Blood and the Frankincense & Myrrh from the same company, but the lack of impact makes it less appealing to me. It's nice, I like it. But it's not getting me excited. And in this area of modern, perfume-like incense, I think I prefer Cha Cha Dum Du.

Score: 32


Thursday, 14 May 2015

Dragon's blood

Dragon's blood is traditionally produced from the dracaena species of tree, such as dracaena draco - which is depicted in Bosch's painting, The Garden of Earthly Delights. There is a large and ancient tree on the island of Tenerife. The resin from this tree is a lovely red colour, and has been used since at  least Roman times as a dye, a medicine, a varnish and as incense. Stradivarius violins are stained with dragon's blood. Because of the demand for the resin, the price of resin from these trees is quite high, and berries from daemonoropes draco, or the dragon's blood palm, is used instead.


The incense is burned in some circles for its cleansing quality, also for protection and sexual potency. There are some people who think that it can be smoked as a substitute for opium. And it is also used in skin cream as an anti-aging agent.

Aromatika Ace Scents Dragon Blood

 Score: 45

HEM Dragon's Blood

 Score: 26

Ashleys Workshop Dragon's Blood

 Score: 20

Aromatika Ace Scents Dragon Blood

Oh my gosh I love this! Soft, sensual, gentle musk with suggestions of frankincense and halmaddi. But always gentle and warm. Camphor underpins this - gives it a backbone. It's earthy and sophisticated at the same time. Everything about the packaging and presentation is against this - plastic and cheap looking, and with the sticks clearly machine made, but the scent is wonderful.

Score: 45

Dragon's blood



 Aromatika  is an Indian company based in Jaipur who have been making incense for over 30 years.

Aromatika Ace Scents Dragon Blood

Soft, sensual, gentle musk with suggestions of frankincense and halmaddi. But always gentle and warm. Camphor underpins this - gives it a backbone. It's earthy and sophisticated at the same time.
Score: 45

Aromatika Ace Scents Frankincense & Myrrh

This is a dreamy scent. Soft, sensual, and very relaxing. 
Score: 40

Aromatika Ace Scents Opium

Attractive and sophisticated modern scent, that unfortunately lacks impact.
Score: 32

The Best Incense Makers

Aargee Incense

British based company founded in1978. They don't directly make incense, but import it, and have incense made for them under several brand names including Stamford, Imperial and Padmini. They use a range of incense companies, including Goloka, Tulasi, and Satya (Shrinivas Sugandhalaya). The quality is as variable as the intended markets, but includes some of the best incense made, and never sinks very low.

Top scents: Stamford Chakra Ajna (Third Eye)  (42);  Stamford Chakra Muladhara Root  (40); 
Aargee Imperial Bharat Mata Bouquet Fragrance  (39); Aargee Laxmi Pooja  (38) ;   Stamford Midnight Calm (by Satya)  (34);  Aargee Patchouli  (33);  Aargee Imperial Raja Rani Lavender Fragrence  (33);  Ganesh Flora by Aargee (32); Stamford Earth Angel  (32);   Stamford Magic Angel  (31);   Aargee Jasmine    (30)     

Scents rated: 25

Average rating: 32

Conclusion: A consistently reliable company. At their best an Aargee brand incense will be amongst the very best incense in the world. At their worse, a decent incense that may not inspire, but will be worth buying again.

Auroshika Incense

Incense company founded in 1973 in Pondicherry, India. The sticks are made from a handrolled charcoal base, then dipped in chemical perfume.

Top scents: None

Scents rated: 3

Average rating: 24

Conclusion: None of the scents tried so far have really impressed, but they have been soft and reasonably pleasant. I am willing to explore further.

HEM Corporation

The HEM Corporation has incense factories in Bangalore, Mumbai and Bhiwandi; it was founded in 1975, and is one of the largest incense companies in the world, with over 100 different incense products which are exported to over 50 countries around the world. Most people will have heard of HEM and tried their sticks. For some people, HEM will be their main or only knowledge of incense. The incense is all chemical based - the sticks are hand made by rolling a charcoal paste onto sticks, which are then dipped into chemical perfumes.

Top scents: HEM Frankincense-Myrrh (37); HEM Blueberry (36); HEM Cherry Vanilla (32); HEM Precious Mogra (Jasmine) (31); HEM Strawberry (30)

Scents rated: 12

Average rating: 23

Conclusion: Not my favourite incense make by any means; they are inconsistent, and can make some vile chemical based "floral" scents, but at their best they can produce some cheap and attractive scents suitable for everyday burning. I am inclined against them, but will succumb to cheap deals, and I'm sometimes surprised by how much I enjoy some scents.

Gopal Joie incense

Gopal, trading as Joie, make fairly standard cheap incense sticks and wet dhoops. The ingredients they use may all be natural, but the scents are artificial, created out of processing the natural ingredients. The scents are unimaginative - White Rose, Lily of the Valley, Orange, etc. The package decoration is uninspired and poor quality (a blurred image of a bunch of white roses for example). The scents are weak, and will often reveal more of the base burning material than the intended perfume.

The Gopal Group, which sells tobacco, chemicals, industrial perfume, etc,  was formed in 1942. They have incense factories in Delhi, Bangalore and Baddi.

Top scents: Joie Sea Breeze (31)

Scents rated: 9

Average rating: 22

Conclusion: Not a company I am interested in buying from.

Tulasi Incense (Sarathi International)

Sarathi International, trading as Tulasi, have incense sticks available from a number of UK internet sites, such as the Asian Cookshop and Incense Essentials, either in hex boxes of 20 or square boxes of 8 sticks for an average cost of around 5p a stick. They produce decent enough scents, and are a fairly consistent if largely unexciting incense company. The sticks tend to be of modest size, and are hand rolled from charcoal paste onto dyed sticks and then perfume dipped. Nothing exciting, but they are cheap, and tend to turn up on market stalls and hardware stores.

The company was founded in 1945 as a small family business, and has grown to an operation employing over 300 people from a modern 75,000 square ft factory in Bangalore - which it claims is the largest incense factory in Bangalore. The company exports to 45 countries worldwide.

Top scents:   Tulasi Frankincense (30)

Scents rated: 9

Average rating: 21

Conclusion: Not a company I am interested in buying from.

Wild Berry

Wild Berry is an American incense which is starting to sell in the UK. The sticks are colourful, and have wacky modern names, like Pounding Surf and Baking Brownies. They have a pleasant aroma on the stick - quite sweet and like apple pie. When burned, they all smell the same - very synthetic.

Top scents: None

Scents rated: 5

Average rating: 20

Conclusion: Not impressed so far, but as I've only experienced five sticks, I am open to trying again

Aargee Laxmi Pooja

A pooja (or puja) is a sacred ceremony performed for someone respected, such as a god. Laxmi (or Lakshmi) is the Hindu goddess of fortune and beauty. She has her own pooja - the Lakshmi Puja.

This is another decent incense from Aargee. The dyded pink sticks have been roiled in a charcoal base, and then, while the paste is still wet, have been rolled in a masala of fragrance material, including the distinctive halmaddi. The box states there is also lavender and bergamont.  The resulting aroma is very pleasing. It is fairly delicate, and the halmaddi informs rather than dominates - I can breathe the smoke with no irritation.

I like this. I like this a lot.

Score: 38


Ratings of other incense by Aargee

Joie Lily

A pleasant floral aroma. Quite basic, and interweaved with charcoal notes, but acceptable enough as a casual everyday incense. Some old ladies knickers notes now and again, and some sharp, hot spots, so not great, but OK.
Score: 20

After a few more days of using these sticks, I'm marking them down. The sharp, slightly acrid, and rather unpleasant chemical tone is really getting to me.
Score: 18

Best of Gopal Joie incense