Thursday, 10 August 2017

Tulasi Musk

Again I used the Meditation stick in the picture, which is wrong, as the Musk stick is a red dyed bamboo with a black charcoal paste.  Like the Lotus, this is a decently heady and floral aroma, though it does has a moderate musky warmth. It's not unpleasant, and is probably the Tulasi stick I have enjoyed the most in this session.  Yep, a reasonably decent everyday incense. The base charcoal is not showing through - the stick is maintaining a steady warm, pleasantly perfumed aroma.

Score: 25

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Tulasi Lotus

Another in the Floral series, the lotus is the national flower of India. I've only encountered two other lotus scented incenses, and both of those were part of a pack - Sifcon Enchanting Bouquet Variety Pack, and The Candle Company Floral Scented Incense Sticks. Neither of those were very good, but this one is reasonably pleasant. Quite a heady, floral scent, though somewhat spoiled by the intrusion of the smell of the burning of the cheap charcoal used as the base (yes, I cheated slightly in the picture, the stick being burned in the picture is the Tulasi Meditation - this Lotus stick is dyed red, with a black charcoal base).

On the whole I'm not too displeased with this one, it's at the lower end of an everyday stick, but it is a little better than just a toilet cleaner.

Score: 22

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Best floral incense

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Tulasi Tangerine

Part of the Fruity series. Tangerine seems to me to be a pleasant subject for incense, but I haven't come across many. I can remember  GR International's Tangerine, and that's about it.  This smells like floor polish on the stick - not very promising! Some pine notes, and a hint of citric fruit.

On burning there is a mild scent - mostly the base wood dust, but there's also some sense of a fruity aroma, but I wouldn't say it was citric let alone orange or tangerine. It's not unpleasant, just ill-defined.

Score: 20

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Fruit Fragrances
That'll Make You Drool

Tulasi Night Queen

This Night Queen is part of a Floral series (I've checked, and I've not reviewed that series before - though I have reviewed a Night Queen incense). I'm assuming Night Queen is a flower - and the nearest I can think of is a night scented jasmine, which grows in South Asia, and has the nickname Queen of the Night. There is a heady floral note on the stick, but also leather and chocolate. Hmm.  The aroma on burning the stick is a bit like that of burning hair.  And, again, there's that chocolate, and some wood - damp sawdust, possibly a hint of cedar and pencil shavings. Odd. It's not actually unpleasant, but sort of getting there. The quirkiness of the aroma keeps it mildly interesting.  Whatever it is meant to be, it's not how I imagine a night-scented jasmine called Queen of the Night would smell.

Score: 20

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Tulasi Meditation

I said a while ago that I would not buy any more Tulasi incense as I wasn't impressed with the quality of their chemical scents, but then discovered Tulasi Vidwan, a decent masala incense. And now, I'm on The Scenter website buying some resins, and note they have a clearance offer for multi packs of the perfume-dipped Tulasi. I know these are not going to be in the same category as the masala incense, but it looks like a bit of fun for not much money, so I grab some. These casual perfume-dipped incense sticks are easy to review. The scents tend to be quite simple and undemanding, and the essence of the scent can be grabbed quite quickly. It's a bit of fun and quite relaxing.

This Meditation is part of an Aromatherapy set, and the intention is to have the scents of vanilla (to dissipate sadness), sandalwood (to relax and build confidence), and camomile (to calm and relieve stress). While there is some sense of these aromas on the stick (vanilla particularly), there is little sense of them when the stick is burned - just some poor quality damp wood dust being burned.

Ah. I just noticed I have already reviewed this in September 2013 as part of the Stamford Aromatherapy pack.

Score: 18

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Monday, 31 July 2017

The Mother's India Fragrances Sattva

There's a clear tobacco scent about this, and a particular tobacco - St Julien Empire Blend, a Virginia tobacco grown in South Africa - it is a sweet, juicy scent with enough spice to contrast the sweetness and keep up the interest. There are hints of chocolate and cedarwood, and moments of sweet musk - quite a masculine smell. I really like this. It is a scent that is a pleasure to inhale - like a good wine or brandy. I'm not sure that it creates a mood for me - it seems mood neutral, and I'm not sure how it could be best used to enhance the house. It seems, really, to be a scent on its own. A scent just for itself - like a pipe tobacco scent. You wouldn't use a pipe tobacco scent for any reason other than to smell it.

Sattva is one of three key states in Hindu philosophy - there is a neutral state, an imbalanced state, and a balanced, creative, positive state. The positive state is sattva.  The Greater Goods (importers of the incense) website describes the scent as "woody and floral" - they feel it is "a modern fragrance, bold and confident yet balanced and pure."

I like it, though feel it perhaps has a limited attraction as it doesn't take me out of myself, and it doesn't lift me. This is one that is perhaps best suited to be burned in short spells just for the pleasure of the scent. Maybe it is for moments in a favourite old chair in the garden shed with a dark beer and a moody detective novel.

Score: 32

The Mother's India Fragrances

Gokula Prabhupada Special

I really like this. It has a nostalgic old fashioned feel about the scent. It's woody and musky, yet with gentle floral notes. Some warm prickly moments - the envelopment of wool - the freshness of grass - the excitement of closeness - a summer evening bonfire..... This is a good scent - it is not aggressive, but does have a clear and profound presence that informs and warms a room, lingering perceptibly for some time afterwards in a cleansing and healing manner.  This is my sort of scent, and is one I am marking down to buy again from Gokula. It perhaps doesn't have the range, depth or interest of some of the big scents in my Heavenly category, but it is, for me, very, very likeable, so that's where it is going. It is in many ways quite similar to Panchavati, a long time favourite of mine - and I'll be interested to do a side by side comparison later.

It is named after Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the man who formed the Hare Krishna Movement. and introduced the Western world to the Krishna aspect of Hinduism.  As I've recently been exploring some incenses mainly made for those interested in magick, witchcraft, the occult, the ancient ways, etc, I've been thinking more closely about the spiritual aspects of burning incense. People burn incense for all sorts of reasons: to freshen up a room, remove bad odours, deter flying insects, create a mood or atmosphere,  or simply for the pleasant aroma. Some folks, though, burn incense for more profound reasons - spiritual or religious. They would be burning the incense for the impact the aroma or the burning materials would have upon their body or spirit - and perhaps with how they connect to the world (or nature or the divine). When burning incense for occult or spiritual reasons the aesthetic aroma may not be a priority - the ingredients, and the purity of those ingredients would be more important. It seems to me with some of the ancient incense makers, like the Indians, there is a beautiful blending of the aesthetic and the spiritual.  Gokula incense is made, I understand, by Haridas Madhavdas Sugandhi of Pune, who follow the ancient methods of Indian incense making.

Score: 42


Sunday, 30 July 2017

D'Las Aura Jasmine

Huge charcoal sticks which are clearly intended for use in the garden (which is where we use them).  I picked up this and one other from a charity shop in London when visiting my son and his girlfriend. They are from Sri Lanka - made and distributed by D'Las, which is the incense branch of HDDES, a Sri Lankan company dealing in spices and essential oils.  Here is a commercial I found on YouTube for Aura incense.

They are very long and thick (they take a long while to light). They are perfume dipped on deep charcoal, and give off a fair bit of oily smoke - unsuitable for indoors, but fine for outdoors, where the smoke can detract insects, and also create attractive swirls. The scent is a musky, sandalwood base, some pine, and then a distinct "floral" character on top. It is pleasant, though not refined or clearly defined - I wouldn't say it is clearly jasmine, it is just a sort of decent enough floral, that drifts around us as we eat outside. We like it. It's not profound or interesting, but does the job it is intended to, and I'd be happy enough to buy them again if I knew where to get them!

Score: 30

Best jasmine incense

Saturday, 29 July 2017

Sifcon 100 Incense Sticks With Holder Cinnamon Cedarwood

I've been burning some interesting but challenging incense recently, so it's good to review something fairly straightforward. I have been pleased to see incense becoming more and more accepted as an alternative room freshener to sprays and assorted plug-in and other gadgets. While not all the everyday incense that is available is strictly pure and natural, being sometimes partly composed of synthetic odours and scents, it is still a lot closer to nature, and to the ways we have enhanced our homes with fragrant aromas for thousands of years, than the chemicals sold to be plugged into the electric sockets in our houses.  And sometimes, even cheap everyday incense IS purely natural. While the main supermarkets have yet to introduce incense to their shelves, some of the budget stores (such as Poundland with their Coley & Gill range) and various corner shops and hardware stores, are now selling cheap everyday incense on a regular basis. Sifcon International are one of the companies who are driving this, with a range of appealing incenses. This current range I spotted in my local budget hardware shop in Woolston is typical of what Poundland offer - a lot of sticks and an attractive wooden burner for a rock bottom price - in this case £1.49.

New selection of incense at my local store Beamans
The sticks are handrolled with a sandalwood based masala and then dipped in an attractive perfume giving deep and rich woody tones - a blend of sandalwood and cedarwood, and then given extra warmth with a hint of cinnamon. It's actually really, really good.  This is probably one of the best value incense I have come across. The scent is not just better than the stuff at the top end of my everyday incense, it is firmly into the decent stuff, and challenging incense I have listed at the bottom of my heavenly category. And you get a 100 sticks, and a nice looking wooden burner, for a penny less than £1.50. That's crazy!  OK, this isn't a complex scent - it's not doing anything remarkable, and it's not creating an authentic mood, but it is damned attractive, and it's doing exactly what I want it to, when I want it to. I don't have to work at it, or worry about it. I can just light a few sticks, spread them around the house, and I have a warm, woody slightly spicy scent throughout my home, making me feel good, and keeping away flying insects.  Job done. Nice one.

Score: 37

Sifcon International

Friday, 28 July 2017

Kemet Design Hathor incense

This is my third powder incense from Kemet Design - as with the others this has an Egyptian theme, and is named after Hathor, the goddess of the sky.  This one is working better for me. It's a woody smell. Not heavenly, but pleasant enough. I put water in my hotter burner, and put the incense powder into that.  There is a cedar wood quality to it. The description says "A rich myrrh incense with a hint of sandalwood and frankincense. This is a warm and sweet intoxicating scent." But I get nothing like that at all. It looks and smells more like cedar wood, and seems to fit better the description for Set: "A spicy, woody blend of juniper, cassia, benzoin and cedar. The aroma is very masculine with a spicy hint of citrus from the juniper and cedar, a warm rich scent from the cassia and a clean balsamic vanilla aroma from the benzoin."

I've not really been hugely impressed with any of the powders I've had from Kemet Design. It's probably me not being able to work out how to burn them properly, and I'll be happy to hear some advice. In the meanwhile I think it's unlikely I'll be burning any of them again. I didn't completely hate them - there are elements I found intriguing in each of them, and I think I liked this one the most, as it had some cedar wood notes that were warm and spicy. But all in all, with the difficulty in burning them, and the unpleasant burning smell if you get it wrong, I don't think the reasonably pleasant and mildly intriguing aroma I get when I find a method that works for me, is really worth the effort, or the cost.

Score: 19

Kemet Design Bast Incense

Another powder or granular incense from  Kemet Designs  - this one is named after the Egyptian goddess Bast or Bastet, who has the body of a woman, but the head of a cat. She was originally a war goddess (the cat head then was more that of a lion) but became a goddess of perfume, so it seems appropriate that an incense should be named after her. I am becoming aware of a large and significant sub-culture of incense makers who are interested in magick and the ancient mystic arts. Or, perhaps, it's more that there is a magick sub-culture which is interested in making incense, as that is part of the ancient arts. Anyway, there are a number of such incense makers who make granular incense, and a Bast incense seems quite popular. I'm intrigued by this one by Star Child, who are based in Glastonbury. I might pop up to their shop to get a few incenses.

Anyway, this one by Kemet Design is advertised as "A rich blend of rose, orris root, sandalwood and myrrh. The scent is rich and inviting."  As with the Kyphi, this is not a strong incense, and is a little dry, so there is more burning going on than actual fragancing. To avoid scorching I tried the trick suggested by Mermade Magickal Arts of putting the incense on some foil in the burner, as this reduces the direct heat. This does work to an extent at first, though the aroma is very slight, and there is a curious damp aroma, same as I found when using foil to protect my myrrh resin. But I tried it in my hotter burner, so it didn't take long before the powder got scorched again. However, before it did I got an aroma reminiscent of burning tea leaves, and I know about the aroma of burning tea leaves because when I was a young and curious teenager, that is one of the things we used to do. Roll some tea leaves in cigarette paper and smoke it.

Anyway, again... I am curious about this incense, and I would like to try it without a burning smell. So I put a little water in my burner, and scatter the powdered incense into the water. Yes! This has the desired effect - I can smell the incense, and it's not burning or scorching! Eureka!

Yes, there is a tea smell - not burning this time, but a delicate light scent of green tea, and a hint of rose. It's quite herby, but also a bit fatty or buttery, but I'm not getting sandalwood or myrrh.  I'm not getting on with this. If somebody has a suggestion of how I can burn this incense without scorching it, please let me know. If not I think I might chuck it away - I've had complaints from my two girls upstairs about the burning smell....

Score: 15

The Scenter Tree Resin Myrrh

I bought this resin from The Scenter about a year or so ago. I absolutely loved it when I first had it, and burned it quite often, often in raptures. Then it got put away in my drawer and there it stayed as I explored other incense. Well, I got it out again recently, and tried it in my two burners, as well as on some charcoal, and I wasn't impressed. It was hot and smoky, with reduced myrrh fragrance. I just read this advice today on Mermade Magickal Arts on how to burn frankincense in a burner by using foil to slow down the burn so you got more of the fragrance, and less of the smoke. Well, it's true that you get less smoke (I have none at all), and there is a myrrh aroma, but it is very, very slight, and also a little bit damp and mouldy. I like the idea, but perhaps my burners are not quite hot enough to really energise the resin, or maybe the resin really is too old now, and I should give up and wait till some fresh arrives. What intrigues me is that I am still getting a very evocative and yummy aroma from the resin in the bag, but it turns into something a little crude and less pleasant when burned.

Score: 25