Incense with a long tradition
What are incense sticks?
In the early history of mankind, the discovery of fire also marked the beginning of the use of ritual incense. Of course, at that time it looked different from today’s incense sticks or incense cones. However, it is a fact that incense with dry herbs, resins, grasses, barks and seeds was practised in all advanced cultures. In most cases, incense was used to honour gods or to drive away evil spirits and negative energies. Even Christianity adopted the pagan Roman custom of burning incense.
- Agar = Wood
- Bathi = Sticks
Therefore, the word Agarbatti/Agarbathi is often found on the packaging of Indian incense sticks. Often, the word Agarbathi is therefore mistakenly used as a name for a brand or an aroma.
One example is the well-known incense sticks of the Goloka company: Nag Champa Agarbathi (translated: Nag Champa Incense Sticks).
What do incense sticks look like?
How are incense sticks made?
What are the differences between incense sticks?
In different areas, incense sticks are produced in different ways. Roughly speaking, you can distinguish between:
- Incense Sticks with carrier stick
- Incense Sticks without carrier stick
There are further differences between these two manufacturing processes:
- Dipped incense sticks
In this process, the carrier sticks are covered with a substance made of charcoal and sawdust and then dipped into essential oils or other liquid fragrance mixtures, which nowadays are not infrequently of synthetic origin.
- Masala Incense Sticks
Masala sticks are traditionally rolled – either around a carrier stick or as small noodle-shaped rolls without an inner stick. Only pure substances are used, which guarantee the special quality of the Masala incense sticks.
There are also other regional peculiarities:
Here, coloured bamboo sticks are coated with the spice paste, each colour representing the mark of a very specific scent.
Japanese incense sticks usually do not need support sticks. To shape the spice paste, it is pressed through a nozzle and then dried. Japanese incense sticks are considered to be of very high quality, as they often contain up to 20 valuable components.
In China, too, the paste is pressed into a stick shape and no stick is used to support it.
In Tibet, incense sticks have always been rolled by hand. In contrast to Japanese sticks, Tibetan incense sticks are thicker and coarser-grained. However, they are also said to be of particularly good quality.
Nowadays you can buy all kinds of chopsticks, both machine-made and handmade.
What advantages do incense sticks have over other incense?
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What are incense sticks used for?
The effect of incense sticks
The most famous fragrance of Indian incense sticks
Nag Champa – a world-renowned aroma that is used for incense as well as in cosmetics.
Cleansing Incense of the Native Americans
White sage has always been considered one of the strongest plants for cleansing rooms and is still a popular incense herb today. It is even said to have antibacterial effects. White sage is very popular in traditional medicine. According to this, the plant helps with skin diseases and psychological disorders such as restlessness and insomnia.
In shamanic rituals, the plant known as American Indian sage is used to promote concentration and dispel negative energies. In addition to incense sticks, white sage is also available in the form of smudge sticks and loose incense.
> Product recommendation: Incense sticks ‘white sageRäucherstäbchen ‘weißer Salbei’
The aromatic wood of the evergreen sandalwood tree has a calming effect and brings inner balance. Burning incense of the noble wood is said to help process negative experiences and release tension. Sandalwood smells sweet and spicy.
Genuine sandalwood always comes from the Indian tree ‘Santalum Album’, which is only found on the Indian subcontinent.
> Product recommendation: Incense sticks ‘Sandalo’ by the company HEM.
The so-called “sacred wood” with the unmistakable aroma of the Palo Santo tree found in South America has been valued for many years. Shamans smoke or cook the sacred wood for their rituals.
Palo Santo smells sweet, spicy and balsamic. The essential vapours have a stimulating and euphoric effect. The hard wood often contains over 100 different essential oils, which interact to produce the intense smell.
The palo santo tree only grows in the wild and has been protected for some time, which is why only wood that has fallen on its own may be used for incense. Palo Santo needs several decades until the essential aromas have been formed.
> Product recommendation: Incense sticks ‘Palo Santo’ from the company Namaste India.
Those who want an activating and invigorating effect should reach for fresh aromas such as lemongrass. The citrus scent has a refreshing and cleansing effect on body and mind.
Lemon grass is not only used as incense. The fresh herb is just as good as a tea and is also used as a room freshener in East Asia. A great property of lemongrass is that the smell repels insects such as mosquitoes.
> Product recommendation: Incense sticks ‘Lemongrass’ by the company Auroshikha.
What are incense sticks made of and how are they made?
How do I recognise high quality incense sticks?
Natural Incense Sticks do not burn. They rather smoulder slowly and with little smoke development. Traditional incense sticks are made of natural ingredients and are hand-rolled, which gives them an individual appearance. Their smoke is thin, relatively light and not sooty. In addition, the aroma appears “natural and light” and does not cause an unpleasant burning sensation in the nose.
Cheap Incense Sticks look perfectly shaped and always the same. This is due to the machine production used for mass production. Usually, these incense sticks are characterised by a very strong, almost artificial, smell and their smoke is rather black, thick and sooty, unlike natural sticks. This is a sign that contaminated oil/resin or additional perfume has been used in their manufacture.
Are incense sticks vegan? 🌱
All incense sticks in the Karmandala Shop are vegan. They do not contain any animal ingredients. They consist of spices, resins and dried fruits and flowers.
When buying incense sticks, you should always pay attention to the manufacturer and origin. Karmandala offers high-quality, hand-rolled incense sticks from renowned manufacturers such as Goloka, Satya and HEM.