Wednesday, 30 January 2019

HEM Tangerine Incense Cones

Another basic incense from HEM. There's a fruity blast at the start, quite citric; and I could be persuaded it was tangerine, though I'm not entirely convinced. But it doesn't last long - the woody smell from the core material soon dominates.  Not a very successful HEM.  While there are some HEM scents that work for me, most are quite poor. This is a company who have marketed themselves very successfully on a largely indifferent product.

Date: Jan 2019  Score:  20

Fruit Fragrances
That'll Make You Drool

Tuesday, 29 January 2019

HEM Myrrh Incense Cones

I like myrrh, so I like this, even though it's a HEM incense, and HEM is generally not one of my favourite producers. Some scents just work for me. This is warm and musky with attractive woody tones. Yes, it is held down by cheap core ingredients which can sometimes come to the fore so its not always the myrrh fragrance that is being detected. So, not a great incense, but one that I'm quite happy to burn as a cheap and cheerful everyday incense.

Date: Jan 2019  Score:  31

Monday, 28 January 2019

HEM Precious Chandan Incense Cones

I like this. Quite a soft, creamy, sexy, musky sandalwood. I burn a bunch of cheap and nasty HEM, which is suitable only as a toilet air freshener, then this pops up. I wonder if the branding "Precious" is significant, as not only is the scent decent quality, the cone itself seems better made.

Date: Jan 2019   Score: 33


Monday, 21 January 2019

HEM Milflores Incense Cones

Sort of old fashioned granny flowers scent which wanders around mostly rose but also vaguely magnolia and then jasmine. Base material is cheap and tends to come through. One of the problems with these HEM cones is that they leave a vaguely unpleasant burnt aroma in the room. Most masala and decent perfumed incense leaves a pleasant aroma, and most masala incense will leave a pleasant aroma for a long time. These cheap cones are just for the moment.

Date: Jan 2019   Score:  19

Saturday, 19 January 2019

HEM Cinnamon Incense Cones

Cinnamon is a pleasant scent, sort of woody and masculine with a cleansing quality. It is sometimes used with cedarwood. I've not had many incense with a cinnamon scent, and those I've had, rather like vanilla, tend to be at the cheaper end of the incense spectrum - part of unbranded gift packs, or simply poorly made from low quality ingredients. This is fairly typical. It has a sense of woody cinnamon, but it's not good quality. I quite like it because I like cinnamon, but the quality is just not here to produce an impressive scent.

Date: Jan 2019   Score:  23

HEM Anti-Stress Incense Cones

A perfumed cone, using solvents rather than essential oils, so it's a little crude, but as a lower end everyday incense or a top end toilet freshener it's OK. It starts with a fairly sweet musky undertone that gradually develops into higher, sharper and poorly defined floral and fruit notes hovering around plum and magnolia accompanied by some vague burning notes from cheap sandalwood.

Date: Jan 2019   Score:  21

HEM Gold Rain Incense Cones

This is rather chemical smelling. The scent is possibly based on jasmine, and there are other aspects I find familiar, but it's too chemical sharp to really enjoy and get close to. It's not hugely offensive, but is best suited as a toilet cleaner, which is what it mostly smells like.

Date: Jan 2019   Score:  19

Friday, 18 January 2019



Sifcon Vanilla Frost
Score: 36

Darshan Kanishka
Score 33

One Aromatics Vanilla
Score: 33

Emporium Impressions Premiere Vanilla
Score: 33

Sifcon Buddha Incense Vanilla
Score: 29

HEM Vanilla Incense Cones
Score: 28

Aargee Stamford Moods Vanilla
Score: 28

Aasha Aromatics Vanilla Orange
Score 27

Poundland Coley & Gill French Vanilla
Score: 27

Divine Spirit Vanilla
Score 18

Tulasi Meditation
Score: 18


Best Scents

HEM Vanilla Incense Cones

Vanilla makes for a pleasant incense scent. We liked this. Enjoyable vanilla aroma. It's not dreamy or anything - it's just a pleasant vanilla aroma. It's not particularly strong, but it does inform the room. A gentle, pleasant everyday vanilla incense. If you like vanilla you should like this.

Date: Jan 2019   Score:  28

HEM Corporation


Thursday, 10 January 2019

Tree of Life Nag Champa

Warm, woody and spicy. This is on a par with some of the Sifcon budget incense. These are cheap, crude sticks coated in what appears to be a masala with essential oils. The scent on the stick is actually off-putting - somewhat damp, sharp and mouldy; but when burning there is an attractive scent that informs the room with a warm and gentle sensuality. Forget the "Nag Champa" name, these are decent everyday sticks if you want to spice up a room with a warm, woody scent. These are OK.

Date: May 2019   Score: 32

The first couple of these that I burned I wasn't impressed.  There was a sort of crude earthy quality such as I find with Tibetan and Vietnamese incense where no essential oils are used, and the ingredients are perhaps a little too rustic and crude. If anything it smelled old, stale, and sort of damp. But burning another one, I am changing my mind. No, it's not a quality incense, but it's not as crude and dismissive as I originally thought. There is a woody and spicy warmth to this that is quite pleasant. The Nag Champa name appears to be purely for marketing, as I'm not getting an aroma that resembles nag champa.

Date: Jan 2019   Score: 31

Tree of Life

Nag Champa

Tree of Life

Tree of Life is a brand of hand made bamboo stick incense created in the UK in 1992 by Geoffrey DaviesThey used to be available direct from Tree of Life for 99p a packet, plus postage, as well as being distributed by Cha Cha Dum Dum, an ethnic gifts company founded in Kensington in 1968. Eventually Cha Cha Dum Dum took over the brand themselves, closing down the TRee of Life website, but Cha Cha ceased trading in 2018, and as of Jan 2019, the Tree of Life brand was still in negotiation.

Tree of Life are generally available at a low price from a few internet and high street incense shops. The design of the packets reminds me of Spiritual Sky incense from the Seventies, and I don't think that's a coincidence. The packs have always said "Made in UK", but I'm dubious about that claim. Cost of production is so cheap in Asia - it's transport that costs, so it wouldn't make sense to import the raw material (such as the bamboo sticks) which would cost pretty much the same as the price of importing the finished product, and then pay someone UK labour charges to make them here. My feeling is that due to the low quality and style of the sticks, that they are made in Vietnam or Thailand.


Tree of Life Cannabis
Score: 33

Tree of Life Nag Champa
Score: 31

Tree of Life Shalimar
Score: 30

Tree of Life Jasmine
Score: 30

Tree of Life Opium
Score: 20

Incense reviewed: 5
High score: 33
Low score: 20
Average:  28


The Best Incense Makers

Wednesday, 9 January 2019

HEM Good Fortune

HEM are a hugely popular and successful perfumed incense company. They are largely dismissed by incense enthusiasts because they use perfume to scent the incense rather than essential oil and other raw ingredients. And I understand that stance to an extent because very few of the most meaningful incenses I have encountered have been perfumed - most have been natural. But the incense I burn mostly is perfumed as it's ideal for casual everyday use, is generally cheaper, and can be damned attractive. It's like being impressed with champagne, but preferring to drink chardonnay  on an everyday basis.

I like this Good Fortune. The name is a common one in Asian incense - less common for incense marketed to the West. While a lot of people burn incense for the scent, or the practicalities (masking bad odours, repelling insects), a good number - especially in Asia - also burn incense for spiritual or ritual reasons. Some find that burning incense with a belief in the ritual will bring on certain things, such as health, courage, sexuality, or good luck. Luck, they say, comes to the confident. And if burning incense gives someone confidence, then good fortune may follow them. Who knows? Try it!

I find this scent very attractive. Out of the packet it has sharp chemical notes that are not appealing, but once lit up, the fragrance fills the room. It's a rather modern floral scent - it hovers around jasmine, but is cleaner, more sophisticated, and more modern that that. It reminds me of some foil-wrapped incenses such as Zam Zam African Cush and Mystic Incense Pink Sugar, as well as Poundland's Coley & Gill Cotton Fresh and Tree of Life's Shalimar.  Yes. Nice.

Date: Jan 2019   Score:  36

HEM Corporation

Sunday, 6 January 2019

Goloka Blessings Incense Courage (Night Queen & Sandalwood)

Another Blessings Incense. I tried the Rose incense a couple of months back, and found it a modest everyday incense. Blessings is a budget masala series by Goloka, sold in traditional hexagonal boxes. There appear to be twelve scents in the series, with wishful names such as Courage, Prosperity, Courage, Good Health, etc. It is quite common for incenses to be sold with such wishful names in the belief that burning them will bring the desired blessings. There is often a sense with such incense that the aesthetic qualities of the scent doesn't really matter, so they can be said to fall within the scope of spiritual or ritual incense, I got this from the IanSnow online shop in a clearance sale. When I looked  in Nov 2018 none of the Blessings series appears to be available in the UK, though they are on sale in Australia and the US.

This Night Queen & Sandalwood is, like the Rose, a very modest incense with little awareness of the intended scents. There's a modest amount of smoke producing a modest aroma of "masala incense" - you know, that vague warm woody scent tinged with damp lamb's wool and barnyard straw. This is clearly a budget incense - there is almost as much bamboo stick as fragrant ingredients. I removed some of the powder coating the stick, and crumbled it up. It is moist with an essential oil. When fresh out of the pack, the sticks have the oily, petrol tang of an essential oil. The sticks appear to be  machine made - very evenly applied paste, and a very even burn.

These are OK modest everyday incense, but are clearly budget, quite possibly an experiment by Goloka, and not to be confused with their regular output.

Date: Jan 2019   Score: 28