Normally, we would feel a twinge of remorse packing up all of these incenses, giving out samples and all of that and create such a mess with so many plastic sleeves. That’s one reason why we use cellophane rather than plastic. Plastic is much easier to come by, and it’s considerably less expensive, but cellophane will biodegrade. In fact, they are so biodegradable that if we keep sleeves around for more than a year or so, they are already beginning to break down. Another reason we use cellophane is that it provides a far superior barrier for fragrance than plastic. Many fragrances are oils or are fairly oily. Plastic is somewhat permeable to these oils and the incense wouldn’t be as fragrant after a while. Cellophane is actually a polymer of glucose, and if anyone has tried to dissolve sugar in oil, they’ll find out they cannot. So these oils are repelled by the sugar-based makeup of cellophane. Cellophane also is permeable to moisture, so damper, fresher incenses won’t mildew. The easiest way to test if someone is using plastic or cellophane is the flame test. If it melts, curls up, sometimes it may drip while it’s burning, safe to say that’s plastic. If it burns more like paper, no dripping or curling up but perhaps a carbon residue, it’s cellophane. Hopefully we’ll be able to keep using cellophane. Sources are getting more and more rare each day.
We do get asked now and again, “What’s in the mystery packs?” We appreciate irony as much as the next guy, but it does bring up a real question, “What really is in the mystery packs?” Many of the incenses that we weigh out into packs end up with a small portion that isn’t enough to make a full pack, packs of discontinued items, and the remains of packs that we opened ourselves to sample out all begin to add up after some time. This is what ends up in mystery packs. So it’s not cast-offs, it’s all legit incense that we just don’t know what to with. The good thing about mystery packs is quantity. There’s a generous 35g in each pack. Another good thing is that it varies so much from stick to stick. The downside is that the fragrances tend to blend together, so if you find something you like and in the chance we can identify it, new sticks of the same type will be different. We use them for road trips when we want variety without carrying many packs. So go with the flow, appreciate the impulsive nature of our mystery packs.
We love champa incenses. This isn’t something that we keep as a secret. We’re always looking for another one to add to our selection. When we found Tree of Life Champa, we knew it had to be part of our library of incenses. This offering is from the Tree of Life company that also produces the wonderful and powerful Mars Choice and Champaka, so we knew it would be solid before we even tried it. It’s such a wonderful classic champa incense. It’s rich, complex, satisfying, semi-sweet, full of spice and distant florals. It gets much of its fragrance from that key component called “Halmaddhi” that defines champa incenses and distinguishes them from others. Please, if you’re a champa fan, or even just an incense user, Tree of Life Champa needs to be experienced.
Over the years, there have been many champa incenses, all of such varying quality. The classic that we all know so well, the famed blue box Shrinivas Sugandhalaya has undergone so many changes since the 90s that it is nothing similar to its original formula. It’s still a good fragrance, but it has changed so very much. A champa that we have come to love so much, Nitiraj Natural Masala Incense, thankfully hasn’t changed as long as we have known it. It’s a classic champa, meaning what? A true champa should include a key ingredient known as “halmaddhi” (the spelling of which can vary). It’s a sap from a specific tree, much like other sap incenses like frankincense or myrrh. It carries a unique fragrance that is semi-sweet, somewhat spicy, and somewhat floral. Halmaddhi defines this incense. It is right up front. It captures the scent of headshops and black light rooms and 60s pads. It’s like a time machine in a stick of incense. If you’re a champa fan, please do give this selection a go.
Frankincense can come from many places such as India, much of Northern and Western Africa, and others. Out of all of the sources of frankincense, The Emirate of Oman still is producing inarguably the best of the very best frankincense. The grading of frankincense is involved, but to cut to the chase of it, everyone wants to know what is the best and just where can it be found. The tippity top of the pyramid is Omani Royal Superior Hojari Frankincense Incense.
It was a bit of a dream to be able to offer such frankincense as it’s cost tends to be prohibitive, but we found an excellent and very kind source that offers such incense at a price good enough for us to carry it now and again. It’s not a steady item, we don’t always have it, so check with us before a road trip for Omani frankincense. If you are a frankincense fan, grab it when you can.
Once set on the charcoal, it will be obvious within seconds that this isn’t ordinary frankincense. This is some next level stuff. It’s exquisitely aromatic, full of citrus, particularly a lime-like note and bergamot (Earl Grey Tea) that only the high end Omani frankincense can boast to have. There’s nothing else like it; it’s peerless in its beauty.
Sometimes one doesn’t want all of the smoke nor wants to deal with the process of smudging with sage. Thank goodness there are options. Some incenses contain sage as a key component, permitting one to purify their environment without sage bundles. One of our favorites is Sandesh White Sage. It has a lovely champa-type core with the addition of white sage. Don’t look for an over-the-top white sage burst; it’s considerably more subtle than that. Another one we have fallen in love with is the wonderful Hari Darshan Copal + White Sage. It combines a lovely semi-sweet amber core with the piney, cleansing property of copal and an earthy note of white sage. We also have these wonderful contribution of HEM White Sage Masala Incense. It’s a dry-type masala incense with notes of white sage. If you want something else exciting, we have a white sage incense with the crisp, clean addition of juniper, go with Sacred Elements Juniper & White Sage Incense. So all is not lost if you wish to smudge without having to deal with sage bundles. We have options-a-plenty.
Before you take any action with this strong and powerful ritual, consider your intention.
Keep this thought clearly in your mind. Smudging should be done with care and reverence along with a positive attitude and that of love.
The flame from a candle is recommended to light the smudge that the bundle starts to smoke. If there is a flame blow it out so that the smudge bundle is smoldering and not burning. When smudging a room, after the bundle is smoking, you walk around the perimeter of the room. Give special attention to the corners and the places behind doors. You can also fan the smoke through the room with a large smudge feather. If you wish, you may state a payer of gratitude for the cleansing and keep in mind your intention of removing negativity during the ritual,
Many people like to break off loose leaves and a candle may be used for them as well. In the very near future, Dr. Seth will have, along with the wonderful hand-made ceramic incense burners, smudge pots for the use of Smudging rituals.
Over the years I have sold many bundles of sage and for the most part my customers knew what it was that they wanted to do with it and how they would and why they would “smudge” their environment. It has come to my attention that there is an interest in this activity. I will give some information and I am not professing to say these are the total of reasons and/ or activities of this technique. It is just a small taste of a ritual that is many centures old and used in many different ways with different herbs.
At Woodstock, we have provided Sage for most of our customers Smudging techniques. Smudging is the name given to the cleansing technique from Native American. This tradition of burning herbs for emotional, psychical and spiritual cleansing is practiced among many religious, healing and spiritual traditions. It is a ceremonial way to cleanse a person, place or object of negative energies.
Smudging can be helpful for when you feel depressed, angry, and/or restful, You can smudge your home, work space or crystals to remove negative energy.
In blog Smudging blog 2 I will talk about how to perform a smudging technique
Dr. Seth has an enormous collection of incense fragrances from around the world. His keen sense of smell coupled with scientific knowledge of the composition and aesthetics of materials have made Woodstock Trading Company the “GO TO” place for incense and other fragrance products.
He earned an M.D. degree in 1993 and decided his inner self would be better served working with his partner and mother (aka MOM) at Woodstock Trading Company. In addition, his creative talents and interests have led him into the world of ceramics. The wonderful hand made incense holders are hand thrown and designed by him.
Come by and chat with Seth about his favorite subject and get some free samples!!
Mention this Blog and he will see to it that Mom will pick up the tab on the sales tax of your order.
I became aware of something I was doing for so long without much thought. I was applying patchouli oil directly to incense sticks. I guess without thinking, I was aware of a lack of convincing, true patchouli incense that isn’t choking and has a sweeter component to balance the bitter, earthy notes of patchouli. We do have some patchouli incenses, most of which I do have a high opinion. Having said that, I often feel the need for something more complex or balanced. Without being aware of that need, I added patchouli oil to some of my favorite incenses and it filled a void that I didn’t know I had until it was filled. This lead to the addition of other oils to incenses. Some had amazing, unexpected results (some good, some not). Clove oil on incenses gave them an interesting juicy fruit gum quality. I expected to get dental office and I got juicy fruit…go know.
Failures involved lavender oil, which surprised me a bit, all citrus and any mints. The key to success is using a pure essential oil and a good sweet incense base. I especially have come to enjoy patchouli on sairanjani champa, satya super hit, satya natural, vampire blood, and goloka nag champa. Another point is to avoid getting any of the oil on the very tip of the stick that is to be lit. I also found that putting dots down the length of the stick with little patches without oil work best. That allows intervals of with and without patchouli to not fatigue the nose. Another point is to avoid getting any of the oil on the very tip of the stick that is to be lit. If the oil is ignited, it will burn like a torch and give off acrid sooty smoke…bad. I will continue to mess around with this process. Thus far, it has been interesting.