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Cone, Resin and Powder
Incense can be found in many forms. It is most often seen as sticks or cones. Last blog we talked about stick and coil incense. This time I’d like to address cone, resin and powder incense.
Cone Incense: Cone incense is one of the most common forms of incense in the Western world. Cone incense is made of the same things that stick incense is made of: ground woods, gums, resins, herbs and aromatic oils. There is also a combustion agent added. Some use saltpeter, some use charcoal. Others use a natural substance called Makko, which comes from a tree. Because there is no wood core in cone incense, the chemical make up is a bit different than the stick incense, and there is no wood to mingle with the stick. For this reason, the smell of cone incense can be slightly different than the stick. If you are used to a stick incense and would like to try the same aroma in a cone form, be aware it may not be exactly the same experience you are used to.
Resin Incense: Resin incense is hardened sap from trees, bushes, shrubs.
It is one of the oldest and most natural forms of incense. Resin incense is what is called a “non-combustible” incense, meaning that you must put it on something that is burning in order for it to burn and release its aroma. Frankincense resin, Myrrh resin, Ylang Ylang as well as Rose resin all come from trees, shrubs and bushes. Resin is very hard and can be broken up to burn smaller pieces. Resins are not only used in meditation, resins are used by some in rituals. Different resins can have different meanings or purposes depending on which ritual is being performed.
powdered incense photo courtesy of Modern Dryad incense
Powder Incense: Powder incenses are simply either resins or incense materials such as roots, bark, flowers, etc. that have been ground into a powder (for example sandalwood powder). Some, such as the sandalwood powder and the many incense powders at Modern Dryad Incense, are also non-combustible and must be burnt on charcoal or another burning medium, such as Makko (see above).
There are some self-igniting incense powders that are pre-prepared. These include powders such as the Medicine Buddha Incense Powder, Dragon’s Blood and Come Hither Powder. Violet and Company doesn’t carry these, but you can find them on the internet. We at Violet and Company would recommend visiting Modern Dryad Incense to try some of their cones and powders.
This blog is by no means exhaustive and there is much more to be explained about the complex and ancient forms of incense. Hopefully, this is just a start and you will be able to learn more in the future.
Myrrh is another wonderful resin that has been brought forward from ancient times for use in the modern world. It is said that at one time Myrrh was as valuable as gold. It was used for medicinal purposes, for incense and for perfume.
Myrrh is a resin derived from cutting the bark of the trees in the Commiphora species, commonly found in Northern Africa. The resin “bleeds” from the tree bark and quickly hardens into a glossy, light colored, firm lump. The more the resin is aged, the darker it becomes.
Myrrh was used by the Ancient Egyptians in the embalming process. It is used today by everyone from the Roman Catholics to the Neo-Pagans for religious purposes.
Studies done on possible medicinal uses of Myrrh, show that Myrrh produces an analgesic effect on mice. Myrrh is used in Chinese medicine as well as in herbal medicine. If you are going to ingest Myrrh, be sure that you know its source and that it is derived using pure means.
You can find Myrrh resin for burning on charcoal discs or for rubbing on your body at Violet and Company. Another wonderful way to use Myrrh is to crush the resin with a mortar and pestle and dissolve it into a vial of carrier oil such as apricot oil and then wear it as a perfume oil. Delicious.
References: Wikipedia Myrrh