Sunday, 25 June 2017

Bhakta incense

The Gopala Bhakta Sakti company of Indonesia were founded in 1995 by Wayan Sudiara. They employ ten people, and are capable of making 1,000 units a month, which doesn't sound much, but it's not clear what they mean by a unit. They have a Facebook page, but it appears not to be have been used for several years.

Bhakta Coconut
Score: 15

Bhakta Lavender
Score: 10

I've not been impressed with the two fragrances I have tried, but they were old, and perhaps not at their best. I have found a UK outlet selling them, but it's a minimum charge of £2.60 per fragrance (six packets), plus £12 delivery on top of that, so I'll be giving that a pass, and waiting until I find a cheaper source.


The Best Incense Makers

Incense Around the World

Knox incence

Knox are a German firm who were founded around 1865 in a disused gunpowder mill. The range of fragrances available are quite traditional, and Christmas orientated. The make cones, which are designed to be burned in wooden burners, usually in the shape of traditional German characters, which are very popular in Germany.

Knox are not the only producers of cones or Räucherkerzen,
there are three main producers: KnoxCrottendorfer and Huss

There are two other companies in Germany selling cones for these burners, but Knox is the largest and most well known.  Although the are best known for cones, they also make incense sticks.

The company has a manufacturing unit in Dresden, though it is not clear if this is used for making the wooden German smokers they also sell, or is also used to make the cones. The cones themselves are made from a blend of wood powder, binder, and dried fragrance ingredients such as flower petals and tree resins. These ingredients are mixed by machine, and the resulting dough is pressed by hand into simple moulds, then left to dry for several days, as shown in this video.

Knox Weihrauch-Myrrhe Räucherkerzen
(Myrrh incense cones)
Score: 30

Knox Waldhonig-Duft Räucherkerzen
(Honey incense cones)
Score: 20

I have not been impressed with the cones I have tried so far, but am willing to try a few more to get a better understanding of this famous incense brand.


The Best Incense Makers

Incense Around the World

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Balaji Red Premium Flora Sticks

Oooh. I like this. Straight from the box these sticks make an impression - not just the musky, balsamic, sharp perfume, but also the soft glowing red - a colour echoed in the box design. There's some thought gone into this. The sticks are handrolled with a thin charcoal paste onto consistently sized, smooth round sticks, each tipped with a light green, and then a masala mix of colour and scent is added. There's an alcohol volatility on the sticks which suggests that there may be some solvent dipping as well, but I'm not certain of that. Why would a company use both a dried masala scent and a solvent scent on the same stick? On burning there is some suggestion of halmaddi, but used in small proportions so I'm not getting ill effects, just a pleasant warming musky scent. The overall impression is like a summer evening with musky flower scents drifting in on the warm breeze. There are prickles in the scent, but these are like delicate champagne bubbles that burst with sharp giggles inside the sensual and comforting warmth of the fragrance duvet. Oh - I'm getting twisted and drunk with this scent and starting to write nonsense. I like this. It was 75p for a box of 14 sticks from Popat Stores,  I have a few other Balaji to try. I'm really looking forward to that!

Score: 42



Bhakta Lavender

This is the second of the Bhakti incense sticks I picked up from the Leytonsstone charity shop. As with the coconut the sticks are hand rolled from wood powder and a dried powder fragrance onto chunky crudely cut sticks - some of which are too big to fit into standard sized incense stick holders. As with the coconut, there is no aroma on the sticks, and only faint aroma when burning, which is mostly of the wood powder. Unlike the coconut, however, I am not getting any scent beyond that supplied by the base wood powder. If there was a lavender fragrance included, it has faded. As there is so little fragrance, the only potential use for this is to keep flies away when feeding the cats in the outhouse during the summer.

Score: 10


Incense Around the World

Bhakta Coconut

Visiting my son Piers and his Romanian girlfriend in Leytonstone, and we pop into a charity shop where I pick up a few packets of incense. All the incense was £1 a packet. I didn't give them much attention, but on getting home and looking them up I find I have incense from Sri Lanka and incense from Indonesia - rather rare finds, as those countries don't export much incense.

These Bhakta sticks are from Indonesia, and are made by the Gopala Bhakta Sakti company who were founded in 1995 by Wayan Sudiara. They employ ten people, and are capable of making 1,000 units a month, which doesn't sound much, but it's not clear what they mean by a unit. They have a Facebook page, but it appears not to be have been used for several years.

The incense sticks are quite thickly and crudely cut, and then a wood powder is rolled onto the stick along with a masala of fragrant ingredients. There is barely any scent on the stick, and little clue of any perfume or solvent being applied. The sticks were all kept in an air-sealed plastic bag, and there was no scent at all on opening the bag,   On burning, the aroma is coconut, but quite old and stale and rather artificial, and it mingles with the base wood dust so it's not an especially attractive scent. I have tried it now in several situations, and I find it is most suitable in the outhouse to keep away the flies from the cat's food.

Score: 15


Incense Around the World

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Sifcon Buddha Incense Variety Pack (Vanilla, Amber, Musk, Sandalwood)

Another decent value UK import from Sifcon bought in my local hardware shop. It's an everyday incense , so don't expect an aromatherapy experience. This is simply something to put a pleasant scent in your home. There are four fairly generic aromas, Vanilla, Amber, Musk and Sandalwood. They are all hand rolled onto a plain bamboo stick of varying thickness, with a brown powder of sandalwood sawdust, and then dipped into a perfume solvent.  The solvents all approximate the fragrance they are supposed to, and are reasonably pleasant, though the quality varies from stick to stick, and also during the burning of a single stick, with all too often just the core sawdust being the main fragrance - a slightly hot scent.

The musk has its moments, but never really lifts. There's nothing here that makes me go "hmmmm", nothing that excites or interests or tantalises, and it isn't warm and seductive. But it is on the whole reasonably pleasant. I'm not sure its one that I would favour as an everyday incense as the musk fragrance too often fades leaving just the hot scent of the sawdust.

Score: 19

The sandalwood is a bit meh. It's a bit soapy and floral for something that is supposed to be sandalwood, but there are some light and sweet woody notes that hover around sandalwood. It's a softer, more stable, more attractive scent than the musk, and wouldn't object to placing a few of these around the house on a cool afternoon.

Score: 20

The amber is also a bit soapy and hot, and is the one that smells the least like it's supposed to, revealing the most of it's sawdust core.  There is a sense of something fragranced and floral, but it's too faint and too vague. It's not an offensive scent, but is simply a toilet cleaner.

Score: 18

The vanilla is by far the nicest. It does have a creamy sweet vanilla ice cream scent, but also caramel or butterscotch. I'd be happy burning this at any time of the day. It's attractive enough to burn before visitors arrive to give the house a yummy sort of smell. Quite sweet and welcoming. There's underlying notes of musk which gives it a seductive depth. The more I burn this one the more I like it.

Score: 29

Overall I think this is a decent value set of fragrances.  Nothing special or exciting about them, but two are decent enough to burn in the house, and two are more than acceptable to use to freshen up the toilet or outhouse.

Overall score: 21

Friday, 16 June 2017

Moksh Swarna Sai Flora Batti

Machine made perfume-dipped incense sticks by Moksh, a popular Indian incense company making good value everyday incense. I like these. They are not heavenly, but are very effective and pleasing sticks for freshening the house. They are consistent and burn evenly. I like to light three to five at a time, and walk through the house trailing strings of smoke, leaving a stick here and there. I made a fish stew last night, so when we came down this morning there was a lingering fish odour. These sticks soon cleared that up, and freshened up the house so it smelled of tangerines and roses. It did the job I wanted, and it did it quickly and efficiently without any ill effects on me or the family.  I think it's useful to have a variety of incense in the house for different moods and different purposes, and this is a really decent everyday incense.

Date: 16 June 2017  Score: 29

The more I burn this the more I like it. It's actually pretty decent, and I'm reaching for it in preference to other incense on my desk.

Date: 18 June 2017   Score: 35

Moksh Agarbatti

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Satya (Mumbai) Nagchampa Super Sandal Dhoop Cones

I recently stocked up on my supply of Satya's Sandal, and thought I would update my review; to my surprise I've never rated it. This is one of my favourite incenses. This top quality stuff. It burns for a long slow time like a tightly rolled Cuban cigar - indeed it looks like a cigar as it burns. The scent is soft, sweet, and gently woody. There is a lot of playful fruit and light wood in this, which makes it quite uplifting as well and pleasantly sensual. On the big box it says: "Sandalwood acts as a sedative & an aphrodisiac. Inhale the fragrance  to instil spirituality & inner quiet." I would agree with that. This is top stuff. I reached for it after burning a fairly bottom end everyday cone that smelled a little too much of the base charcoal. This scent is heavenly. Whatever it is that Satya does, they do it well. And at £8 for 144 cones from an Amazon dealer, this is an absolute bargain!

Score: 40


Satya (Shrinivas Sugandhalaya)


Incense cones

Sifcon Karma Scents Patchouli Incense With Holder

Bought from my local general hardware shop where I picked up the other products imported by the UK based  Sifcon International company who are a wholesalers dealing in household goods. 40 cones with an attractive holder for only £1.29. That's a great bargain. The holder itself is worth the price. The cones are moulded and solvent dipped. There's a cleaner and solvent aroma coming from the cones. The scent on burning is a little hot and smoky, and is quite variable. Sometimes there is an attractive green musk scent, but sometimes the scent is mainly burning charcoal. When lighting the cone you don't quite know what you're going to get. But, having said that, when it is good it does make for a decent everyday scent that informs and warms up a room pleasantly, and at its worse is simply a background bbq smell before the food is put on! For the price, and the gift of the mirrored holder, I think this is a steal.

Score: 20

The sticks are dipped in the same solvent as the cones, so they smell the same. There is a distinct green cannabis aroma here. It is, like the cones, a bit variable, but at its best does offer a seductive warmth with a few sharp peaks to provoke interest.  All in all I am liking the cones and the sticks, and am moving the score up a bit, as when its good it's not half bad.

Score: 25

Sunday, 11 June 2017

One Aromatics Cedarwood

There's an initial promise on the stick of marzipan, fruit, violets, and band-aid - quite interesting. This is a charcoal stick rolled with a thin powder, and then perfume-dipped. The perfume solvent makes itself known on burning, and it's more of a sense of burning solvent rather than the exquisite fragrance of cedarwood, or any of the other promising scents on the stick Through the solvent we do get, eventually, some pencil shavings, but it's all a bit late and a bit modest. That's not to say that this is an unpleasant incense - far from it. It's a decent enough everyday scent. Better than a toilet cleaner, but not heavenly enough to transport me, or to burn when visitors come round.

It's fairly cleansing, though mostly emotionally neutral. There's dark sombre tones amongst the cleansing notes, but it's not a depressing scent - nothing to bring you down. Could be used for sombre moments. Perhaps when you want a scent, but don't want to be distracted. There are sharp notes that would keep you alert, so perhaps useful for when studying or concentrating or just simply reading and not wanting to fall asleep. Yeah. Could be useful.

Score: 27

One Aromatics

Friday, 9 June 2017

One Aromatics Lemongrass

 I ordered six different scents from One Aromatics at the suggestion of blogger Heather Stewart. She is particularly attracted to the Ambrosia as it uses halmaddi. I've not got to that yet. I've started with the Lemongrass, as it's a herb I like to use in cooking, and I do like the scent.

I was struck when looking at the packets, at how much they reminded me of the packaging of Maroma Incense of Auroville Frankincense, a perfume-dipped incense I wasn't that impressed with, though I was intrigued by the company. These are made by the same folks. Or, at least, in the same Utopian village of Auroville. The place sounds and looks fascinating. As an ageing hippy, it really appeals to me.

Opening the pack and the solvent hits hard. Very green, and most certainly has the essence of lemongrass, though it is a little too distilled, a little too much like a solvent rather than a scent direct from the herb. But quite likeable. Candy sweet, fresh and sharp. It's a pleasant wake up call. On burning there's a little too much of charcoal and sandalwood powder, and not quite enough lemongrass to really interest me, but it's not so bad I would relegate it to the toilet. There is just enough lemongrass to keep it interesting, and the lemongrass is sufficiently uncommon as an incense scent to make it worth keeping around. So, not a heavenly scent, but a decent everyday (or now and again) scent.  Yep. OK.

Other lemongrass incense I've tried:  Darshan Lemongrass and Pan Aroma Incense Sticks. They weren't very good either.

Score: 24

Boudhanath Himalayan Rope Incense Sandalwood

Made by Buddist monks at the Boudhanath stupa (shrine) in Nepal, and bought from Sound Travels for £1.20, this is a new way for me of burning incense. The fragrant powder (in this case sandalwood) is rolled tightly inside rice* paper which is then twisted into a shape resembling a rope.

Sandalwood powder is
rolled inside rice* paper
I wondered how to burn it, and note on the internet that there are Himalayan rope incense burners - one type burns them hanging from a wire, another appears to hold them in some form of brass clothes peg. I shoved mine into a dhoop holder, which worked fine.

Two different rope burners
The scent is fairly basic, and smelled a little of firework paper burning, and faintly of poor quality sandalwood. I love the idea and the appearance, and might try another one, but I think this seems to be more about the visual idea than the quality of the aroma.

*After doing a bit more research, I think the "rice paper" covering is likely to be lokta paper, which is a natural, handmade paper unique to Nepal.
Score: 20


Incense Around the World