Birch Bay Aromatics
Home of AIRS, ALCHEMIA & KYPHI Incense 

Incense: a brief history

Traditionally, incense
is a combination of fragrant botanical material
which is first ignited, then blown out and allowed to smolder...releasing a perfumed smoke.

Throughout the ages, incense has been used to enhance our environments and personal atmospheres. Earliest humans, possessing keen senses, would have noticed the pleasing scent of aromatic woods or herbs smoldering in a cooking fire. Since the last Ice Age and within the past 12,000 years, we have selected fragrant botanicals to 'smudge' or burn with intention to purify, protect and heal. It is our human way.

By 2000 BC, Chinese, Indian and Egyptian traders were bartering herbs for resins, gums and precious woods. The materials, in turn, were blended with select flowers and powdered roots to create sophisticated, long-burning incense used in temple ceremonies and sacred rites. Frankincense, Myrrh, Labdanum resin, precious gums, herbal roots, dried flowers and sandalwood were transported by caravan and sailing routes to the far corners of the Ancient World.

In Arabia, and later India, the complex methods of essential oil distillation were developed and refined. The science of perfumery expanded throughout Asia, Egypt and Mediterranean Europe during the following centuries. Highly-scented flowers such as Jasmine, Rose, Lily, Tuberose, Lavender and Narcissus were grown especially for the secretive Attar perfume trade from Venice and Cairo to Kannauj and Anyang. As a result, the mysteries of flower essence distillation were jealously guarded for generations. Essential oils and incense production are intertwined -- this ancient science is an aromatic sensual art we enjoy and treasure.


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