Traditionally, incense is a combination of fragrant material, which is first ignited, then allowed to smolder, releasing a perfumed smoke.
Throughout millennia, incense has been used to purify, protect, fumigate and heal our environments. Originally, humans may have noticed soothing effects of certain wood or herbal smoke as it burned in tribal campfires; a Shaman or healer would have remembered such power.
By 2000 BCE, Chinese ,, Indian and Egyptian herbalists traded for resins, fums and precious woods, to blend with select flowers and powdered roots, formulating sophisticated, long burning incense for sacramental use. Valuable Frankincense & Myrrh, Amber Labdanum and Sandalwood powder were transport by fragile boat and caravan to the outposts of the ancient world.
After the invention of essential oil distillation in Arabia and India, the science of perfumery expanded exponentially throughout Asia, Egypt and Mediterranean Europe. Highly scented flowers like Jasmine, Rose, Tuberose, Lily and Narcissus were grown especially for the perfume trade, and the mysteries of distillation procedures were jealously protected.
By the time of the Italian Renaissance, the addition of essential oils to the classical resin/herb incense compounds offered new pleasures for the connoisseurs of the sacred and the sensual.