Saturday, 13 August 2016
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
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)|
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.
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.
|Satya (Shrinivas Sugandhalaya of Bangalore)|
Saturday, 23 April 2016
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.
GR International Strawberry
HEM Cherry Vanilla
GR International Tangerine
Match Incense: Daisy, Kiwi, & Pineapple
GR International Greenapple cones
Joie Green Apple
(I hadn't realised I had rated so many fruit fragranced incense - I think I should start a page just on fruit fragrances!)
Thursday, 10 March 2016
There's a sultry and heady aroma on the sticks which emerges immediately the pack is open, and grabs the attention. It's very honey sweet yet prickled with camphor which prevents it becoming cloying. On burning, the damp wool notes of halmaddi come forward, perhaps a bit too sharply for my taste. As the aroma settles there are some very attractive notes that come forth - a sort of tangerine jelly, fresh cut grass, spearmint, damp leather, fresh rain. A range of shifting and mesmerising aromas - some that tease, just out of reach of recognition, yet so familiar. A memory of pleasing aromas. The more this burns the more I love it.
I haven't blogged on incense for a while, partly because I've been burning a fair amount of unexciting incense recently. But today I picked up Nature's Meditation to perk up the house and my spirits as I did some housework (in our house I am the house parent, and my partner is the one who goes out to work). Now, I love Goloka, and there's a reason for that. They are a non-profit charity who support poor women and children in India, so I know that my money is going to a good cause when I buy their products. But mainly it's because they do some awesome incense. As soon as I took the sticks out of the box I couldn't help myself, the scent captured me and made me sit down. It's a gorgeous blend of apples, mint, candy-floss and roses. Fresh, exciting, and yet beautifully flowery. My daughter loves it as well! So I had to blog it!
There's so much going on here, and it all balances and blends creating a unique scent. On burning there's a hint of a backbone of halmaddi, but that is used to underscore the main scents rather than to be the main aroma itself. And that seems to me to be the best use of that resin. Apple and mint are again to the fore, along with violets, roses, lavender, sandalwood, musk and patchouli. It's like walking through garden with some woody incense burning, so you get all the fresh air and the floral notes of the flowers, and the drifting undertones of patchouli and halmaddi.
This is a great daytime incense which is restful and soothing, and yet also spiritually and emotionally uplifting. Great for improving your mood, and for welcoming friends and guests.
I love it. It's going in my Top 10!
Saturday, 30 January 2016
Ancient Wisdom are a UK distributor of gift ware and incense, based in Sheffield. They import incense from Thailand and sell under their own name, or the brand name Dawn Of Time, or as wholesale bulk lots which are then sold on under names such as Ashley's Workshop.
|The Best Incense Makers|
Reviewing Juicy Jay's Thai Incense Sticks earlier today made me look through my incense collection to see what Thailand incense I may have unused. I found this pack of Ancient Wisdom cinnamon incense moulded in cute star shapes. I don't like Ancient Wisdom, and resolved some time ago not to buy any more, so I must have had these for some time. The packet was sealed airtight and does have an attractive candy and cinnamon aroma. The shape is a little unusual. I decided to place it upright on a dhoop stick holder and ignite one of the star points. I should imagine it is also possible to lay it down, and perhaps light all five star points. The aroma is mildly pleasant, though the cinnamon quality is overwhelmed by the base material, and it soon smells like sawdust and assorted organic material rather than anything more refined or interesting. So, initially interesting and promising, but ultimately rather dull - just like all the other Ancient Wisdom products I've tried.
A few days ago while looking for some Tulasi Vidwan online I noticed Juicy Jay's being offered at £1.99 for two packets, post free. The company was founded in America in the late 1990s to sell flavoured cigarette papers, and a few years ago - probably 2013, launched their incense series. The aromas have tempting names such as Orange Overload, Funkincense, and Apple Brown Betty. As they were cheap and made in Thailand, I suspected they would be poor quality, similar to the incense made for Ancient Wisdom,which are also made in Thailand, though as it turned out they were slightly better than that - but only just!
The packaging is top quality, with expensively printed glossy cardboard sleeves over double plastic sleeves, one with a zip lock. They look appealing, with attractive modern names, and the initial aromas are fresh, light, fun, and very modern. The sticks are not blanks, but dry extruded fragrant paste over a bamboo stick - similar to some of Happy Hari's incense sticks. So it all looks OK. And when you burn them they last for over an hour, with no nasty off-notes. The aromas, however, tend to be the earthy organic base material overlaid with a very basic and simplistic synthetic car air freshener scent. They are not bad as such, but they are not as interesting as they look, and the earthy aroma of the base organic material can contrast a little uncomfortably with the modern synthetic sweet aromas of the top notes.
As they are not refined sophisticated aromas, I'm simply grouping them here. They are cheap and cheerful, and would serve to cover up bad smells, or as a low cost everyday incense or room freshener. They wouldn't be used for anything meaningful.
Apple Brown Betty does have an awareness of apple to it - a slightly sweet, applie pie type aroma. But it is faint, and it is merged into the obscure organic material of the paste so creating a slightly duller aroma than it could have been. It's OK, and while it doesn't live up to its promise, it is an inexpensive and reasonably pleasant air freshener.
Strawberry Fields is the stick that is closest to its name. There is a distinct aroma of synthetic strawberry and cream. It's cute, and is the second most enjoyable of the five I tried.
Funkincense is my favourite as I love frankincense, and this does have some of the sultry, musky warmth of that incense, and there is something a little more spiritual about it than the others. But as a frankincense aroma it is fairly poor.
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough is a little vague, but does have a pleasant sweet warmth about it, rather like synthetic vanilla. It reminds me a little of Tulasi Chocolate, and maybe I'm being a bit harsh with my scores here, as I gave the Tulasi a 26 - or perhaps I was being a bit generous with the Tulasi, which I reviewed two and a half years ago, when I was less knowledgeable/experienced than I am now. I'm still learning and discovering, and there is much I still don't know, but I know more now than I did back then, and I hope that in two to three years time I will know more than I know now.
Orange Overload is the most disappointing of the bunch. The name promises so much and the stick delivers so little. There's a faint peppery aroma that is nothing like orange, and sure enough is not an overload at all!
Overall score: 22
At the same time as I bought Sai Gold Sandal (sticks) I bought this little packet of dhoops. These are more oily than the sticks, with a deeper, richer sandal than the sticks, but with less going on. This is more intense than the stick, partly due I suppose to the greater amount of incense being burned from the thicker dhoop. The sticks, though one-dimension compared to some of the other sandal incense I have been burning recently, are more varied and complex than the dhoops. They are sweeter, sharper, more prickly, and have a hint of halmaddi about them. The dhoops are smokier and more obviously sandalwood. I like both - they are decent quality with a natural feel about them. As they have different characteristics with some positives and some negatives, neither emerges as better than the other. I'm happy to burn either. The dhoop is a more relaxing experience, covers a larger area of the house, and I love the swirls of silver grey smoke. The sticks are more invigorating and interesting.
Wednesday, 27 January 2016
I picked up this packet, and some hand rolled dhoops also called Gold Sandal, from a market stall in Oxford, when I was there for the Oxford Half Marathon in October. Some sticks were burning, and they smelled so lovely I bought some. The stall holder was enthusing about how natural they were, and that they were the real thing, but he also had some Hem products on his stall, so I didn't pay much attention. They appear to be from a cottage industry - there is a Sai Handicraft in India, but they deal with weddings not incense, so probably not the same company. There is an email address, so I may get in touch to see what else they have on offer.
The sticks are hand rolled with a charcoal paste and then rolled in a fine golden brown masala of fragrant ingredients. The masala dust has not been applied well because all the packets on the stall had loose masala dust inside. The aroma is sandalwood - it's a prickly fairly one-dimensional sandalwood, but it's sweet and musky, so I like it anyway.
I have a soft spot for sandalwood - well, the real thing, not the perfume dipped sticks which use the chemical IBCH. I have been burning a range of sandalwood incense since last night when I reviewed the strongly sandalwood based Tulasi Vidwan. I returned to one of my all time favourite incenses Nandita Wood Spice, and found I still loved it, and moved up its score a little; I also returned to Krishna Priya Chandan by one of my favourite incense makers, Goloka, and moved that up as well. Though on burning GR International Sandalo this morning, an incense that has been in my Top Ten for nearly three years, I found it a little flat compared to the sandalwoods I have discovered since 2013, so I moved it out of the Top Ten, and below this one.
What the Wood Spice and the Krishan Priva have that this, the Vidwan and the Sandalo don't have, for all their sweet muskiness, is that there is more going on than just the sandalwood - there are balancing and contrasting aromas that weave in and create a magic spell that keeps your mind and senses alive - the Wood Spice especially.
I like this Sai Gold Sandal, especially as it informs the house and leaves a gorgeous lingering aroma, but I don't see it becoming one of my all time favourite incenses.