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Types of Incense Sticks

MASALA is the Indian word for a blend of spices and/or herbs. Masala incenses are made by blending a number of solid ingredients into a paste which is then rolled onto a bamboo stick. Masalas usually do not contain liquid perfumes.

CHARCOAL is integral in manufacturing of an unscented blank (non-perfumed stick) which is then dipped into a mixture of perfumes and/or essential oils. These blanks usually contain spent sandalwood powder, a binding sticky resin that holds the sticks’ coating together, wood charcoal and sometimes other substances. Most charcoal incenses are black in color, and are distinctive because they are rich in aromatic perfumes and burn smoothly without producing irritating smoky bi-products.

CHAMPAS & DURBARS are wet-process incenses which frequently contain ingredients entirely unfamiliar in the West. They are usually very slow burning and quite sweet and spicy in bouquet. They can amalgamate solid and liquid perfumes in a gummy base which never quite dries, making the sticks themselves soft to the touch. All are rich and highly fragranced.

COMBINATION incenses are those which we have found to have the qualities of both the Masala and the Charcoal. It is quite possible to make a masala incense and then dip it into liquid perfumes, producing a very colorful and rich bouquet. Or, semi-liquid substances such as resinoids can be added to the masala along with essential oils or liquid aromatics. These incenses usually have a great deal of depth, and once burned, leave a lingering after fragrance.

WOODBASE incenses, including sandalwoods, contain little more than powdered or shaved wood plus a resinous or solid perfume. They are really masalas, but since the woodiness is so distinct in most cases, we have put them into a separate category.