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I can only imagine mankind’s earliest use of incense. Was it the same day that fire was discovered, or was it the day after? Since that beginning, the fragrant smoke of historical fires has risen in rhythm with the sun, the moon, and the tides: the heartbeats of life on earth.

The burning of sweet gums, resins, woods, and plants has taken hundreds of gorgeous, diverse cultural forms, lots of which persist today. Ancient Egyptians burned offerings to the sun god, Ra, on his each day trek throughout the heavens. Frequent references to using incense in the Old Testament recommend that the Jews have used it since very early times. Modern Hindus burn camphor and incense before the image of Krishna. The Greeks burned candy incenses to make sacrifice and prayer more acceptable to the gods. Little use of incense is obvious in Islamic traditions, and incense was unknown in early Buddhism, opposed because it was to exterior dogma. Nevertheless, public and private use of incense has now become widespread amongst Tibetan, Japanese, and Chinese Buddhists. By the fourteenth century, it had turn out to be a part of most of the established Christian rituals, and is still used for such ceremonies as high mass, processions, and funerals. Fashionable pagan and neopagan practices additionally contain highly developed ritual makes use of of incense. In Native American religion, sage, candy grass, yerba santa, uva-ursi, cedar, and tobacco are burned ceremonially for purifying oneself and one’s surroundings, for sending up prayers to the Great Spirit, and for connecting with one’s spirit helpers—the unseen forces that help humans.

Besides its place in ceremony and faith, incense is usually used merely to evoke a mood or create an atmo­sphere for shopping, leisure, romance, or home relaxation. It’s a mental stimulant that can bathe atypical events and activities in a particular glow.

Incense makes use of many botanical products which can't be liquefied or distilled into a perfume. Tree barks and saps, gums, resins, roots, flowers, aromatic leaves, and needles can be mixed in myriad ways to create a rising, mood-enhancing bouquet of fragrant smoke. The botanical ingredients may be purchased, grown, or gathered from the wild.

Incense can take many forms, from simple, loose ingredients to be thrown on glowing coals to ornately shaped cones, cylinders, sticks, or coils. All are enjoyable to make and revel inable to use. All except loose incense consist of 4 primary ingredients: an fragrant substance or mixture, a burnable base, a bonding agent, and a liquid to change the bonding agent into a glue. Coloring agents could be added as well.

Aromatic. Any herb, spice, or botanical powder that provides off a pleasingly scented smoke when burning. These embody many kinds of wood (comparable to sandalwood and juniper) and bark (reminiscent of cinnamon) as well as some leaves. The smoke from burning herbs smells completely different from the contemporary or dried herb itself. To test the perfume of herb smoke, drop a small amount of the dried herb on a scorching piece of charcoal. I've by no means heard of an herb whose smoke was toxic, although sure mushrooms can produce narcotic fumes. Essential oils additionally will be substituted for the fragrant plant material; again, test on scorching charcoal.

Base. A substance that burns readily with both a nice aroma or no aroma at all. The bottom aids in the burning of the aromatic and often enhances or tempers the scent. The preferred bases are powders derived from woody plants: sandalwood, cassia, vetiver, willow, evergreen needles, and charcoal. You can make the wood powders your self by processing sawdust in your blender for 2 minutes on high speed. Talc or clay is sometimes added to gradual the rate of burning, however I don’t recommend talc because it may well cause respiratory irritation. Potassium nitrate (saltpeter, available at drugstores) could also be added to a base to ignite it more quickly and evenly.

Bonding agent. A resin or gum that holds the aromatic and base together. Bonding agents that burn well without giving off poisonous smoke and are readily available include agar, karaya, gum arabic, and tragacanth. Of these, trag­acanth is the binder most frequently recommended, and I discover that it’s the simplest to work with and offers the most effective results for formed incense.

Liquid. Water is easiest and most cost-effective, although inventive incense makers may not be glad when there are much more fascinating liquids to make use of: wine, brandy, herb waters, olive oil, and tinctures, to say just a few. I have not observed a significant difference in both the odor or the burnability of the incense.

Coloring agents. The simplest way to color incense is with food coloring, however plants may also supply natural colors: for example, red sandalwood for red, willow for brown, safflower for yellow, and charcoal for black.

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