A glossary of terms related to incense - Indian, Japanese and Western, and including general terms and ingredients. Much of this has been quickly taken from several sources, including: hipforums, incenseguru, hybridelephant, incense-sticks-herbs and spraysofblossoms (contains good links).
Agarbatti (or Agarbathi) - Indian term for incense sticks
Ash-catcher - a type of incense holder, usually long, flat, and curved up at one end, that catches the ash of the incense as it falls, preventing a mess. Sometimes also called an "incense boat"
Attar - an essential oil obtained from flowers - as in "Attar of roses" - rose oil
Batti (or Bathi) - bamboo sticks
Censer - a holder for charcoal blocks and granular incense. Often made of brass or another metal with legs or a base or hanging from chains
Charcoal - the charcoal used for burning granular incense is not the same as barbeque charcoal, which is only safely burned outside. Incense charcoal is "self-lighting" and safe for indoor use.
Desi Ghee - Indian clarified butter, an ingredient in dhoop
Dhoop - Indian term for an older form of incense making which is still employed in India, though is more commonly used in other Asian countries, particularity Tibet and Japan. It consists of fragrant ingredients blended with combustible material and binders in a paste form which is then shaped into logs or sticks and commonlyh allowed to dry hard, though there are some dhoops made with ghee which remain moist. Essentially dhoop is any form of incense which is not formed onto a bamboo stick. However, it is generally reserved for logs. Incense cones, for example, may be dhoop, but are usually called cones. "Dhoop agarbatti" means dhoop rolled into stick incense, "chandan dhoop" means dhoop made from sandalwood.
Perfumed or perfume-dipped incense - incense sticks dipped into perfume oils or made with perfumes or essential oils rather than dried ingredients. The most popular form of incense in India and the West. Considered by some to be an inferior type of incense to natural or masala incense.
Durbar - A characteristic, traditional incense recipe in which the paste of ingredients is rolled around the stick and then dipped in a fragrance-producing oil.
Granular Incense - loose incense, usually not self-lighting, that is burned by sprinkling it over lighted charcoal in a censer.
Incense holder - can be anything from a dish of sand to a small tile with a hole in it for sticks or an heat-proof surface to receive cones, used to hold smouldering incense. It may or may not have a surface to receive falling ash.
Joss sticks - "joss" comes from the Portuguese word "deus", meaning a god. When temples were built in Western communities by Chinese immigrants, they were referred to as "joss houses". "Joss sticks" were the slang name applied to the offerings of incense burned in the temples. It's now used to refer to any stick or cylinder incense.
Koh - Japanese term for incense
Koh doh - Japanese incense ceremony
Makko - Charred coconut husk, used as a scent-free carrier for many types of incense.
Masala or natural incense- A more recent form of dhoop incense developed around 1900 in which the paste of ingredients is formed around a bamboo stick. Sometimes essential oils are used, though the characteristic of masala/natural incense is that there is a dry powder of mixed ingredients (a masala) rolled around the paste on the stick.
Nag Champa: belongs to the "Champa" class of Indian incense originating from the Champa flower. This incense contains a high concentration of sandalwood. 'Nag' means serpent/cobra and 'Champa' refers to the flower of the Champaca tree. Not a brand name. It is a perfume originating in Hindu and Buddhist monasteries in India and Nepal, made from a sandalwood base, to which flower oils, including and especially that of champa flower, are added. To hippies in the States, it is most famously associated with the popular incense sold in a blue box, manufactured and exported by Shinivas Sugandhalaya, and bearing the name of holy man Satya Sai Baba, although other quality brands of nag champa incense, such as the "gold champa" made by Goloka Seva Trust, exist.
Self-lighting incense - Incense that will ignite at the touch of a match or flame, as opposed to incense that must be burned on coals.
Simpoi - A characteristic Tibetan-style incense stick, primarily based on Deodar Cedar, which is not rolled around a central bamboo stick, as are most Indian-style incenses.
Smudging - the ritual act of blessing an object, person, or area by brushing or fanning the smoke of burning sage or incense over it.
Sugandha - a Buddhist term for one of the 4 smells, meaning "fragrant"; often used to mean "incense"
Agar - Agarwood, also known as aloeswood, is the resinous heartwood from Aquilaria trees, large evergreens native to southeast Asia. The trees occasionally become infected with mold and begin to produce an aromatic resin in response to this attack. As the infection grows, it results in a very rich, dark resin within the heartwood. Aloes was a common incense ingredient in India, so the word "agar" is used for "incense" in India
Amber - in incense and perfumery, amber does not refer to the petrified resin of the pine tree, but to a blend of plant-based or synthetic resins and perfumes made to imitate ambergris.
Ambergris - a secretion of the sperm whale, produced to protect their stomachs from the beaks of the cuttlefish they eat. In modern perfumery, most ambergris is now synthetic.
Benzoin (also Loban) - Balsamic resin of the Styrax benzoin, or Benjamin tree
Champak (also Champaka or Champa) - Balsamic resin of the Michelia champaca tree. It is native to India and has fragrant orange-yellow flowers.
Chandan - the Indian name for sandalwood. Sandalwood from Mysore region of Karnataka, southern India is generally considered to be of the highest quality.
Dragon's blood - the resin from one of several plants, most commonly daemonorops or dragon's blood palm, though other plants and trees may be used.It produces a woody, spicy aroma.
Frankincense - An aromatic gum resin obtained from African and Asian trees of the genus Boswellia.
Gugul or Guggul or Gugal - Balsamic resin of the Commiphora wightii bush, a flowering a shrub or small tree in the family Burseraceae. The guggul plant may be found from northern Africa to central Asia, but is most common in northern India. It is burned to drive away evil spirits as well as remove the evil eye from the home and its family members. Gulab (also Gugul or Gugal) - Rose.
Halmadi - Balsamic resin of the Ailanthus malabarica tree.
Kesar - Saffron.
Kasturi - Musk.
Khus (sometimes Ruh Khus or Khus-khus) - The aromatic root of the Andropogon muricatus grass, also called Vetivert.
Mattipal - The Sacred Fig (Ficus religiosa), a species of banyan fig native to Sri Lanka, Nepal and India, southwest China and Indochina east to Vietnam. It is known by a wide range of local names, such as Bo or pou (from the Sinhalese bo), Bodhi (in Thai Language), Pipal (peepal, peepul, pippala, pimpal, etc.), arali or Ashvastha tree. Mattipal - Frankincense
Mogra (also Mugra) - Jasmine.
Nagarmotha - Cyperus Scariosus, also known as Cypriol. It is a plant of the Cyperaceae family that grows wild in the Madhya Pradesh region of India, and is highly-prized for it's roots, which are used in aromatherapy, as a perfume, and for many other purposes.
Neroli - Bitter orange, Citrus aurantium.
Olibanum - Frankincense.
Oud (also Oude or Oudh) - Aloeswood or agarwood
Patchouli - a shrubby bush from Malaysia and India, with a warm, earthy fragrance. Its leaves were packed with shawls from India to protect them from moths during the Victorian era. Patchouly became associated with the hippies in the 1960's because of its association with India, and because the incense was often burned to mask the tell-tale odor of marijuana.