Incense has been used since for centuries, either as an offering to the Gods, for the healing properties of the herbs used, clearing negativity especially from a sacred space or simply for perfuming the air.
Our ancestors used the Beltane fires infused with herbs to rid the cattle of parasites, by driving them between two huge bonfires on their way up to the summer pastures. Far Eastern cultures use incense to carry messages to the departed in the smoke, the ancient Norse are believed to have burned incense to honour the Gods and announce a warriors arrival to Valhalla, the First Nations use smudge sticks for purifying and honouring their Gods. The list goes on encompassing just about every culture known.
Incense takes many forms, but the most commonly used are sticks, cones
and grain incense. The one thing they all have in common is heat.
Grain or Resin Incense
Is a combination of resins and herbs, with the mixture sprinkled onto hot charcoal discs. Incense sticks make use of fragrance, herbs or essential oils, with a binding agent to hold the mixture on the stick. Cones also use a binding agent to keep their shape and a powder form is also available on the market, usually incorporating salt petre to help ignite it. How To Use charcoal discs.
Lighting An Incense Stick Or Cone
Most modern incense sticks and cones incorporate a compound for quick lighting. The fragrance is in the smoke, so the incense needs to be smouldering rather than burning.
Incense sticks often have an exposed wood tip, and an incense covered tip at the other end. The wood tip is for holding and inserting into a holder, it's the incense covered tip that is lit.
Hold the wooden tip and use a match or lighter to apply a constant flame to the incense encrusted end. Let it flare for a few moments to make sure it is really alight, and then gently blow out the flame. The tip should be glowing red, and smoke curling from it. Place the unlit end of the incense into a suitable holder with a firm base, so that it won't tip over and set light to soft furnishings and make sure it is well away from curtains and pets.
The incense stick will smoulder gently, giving off fragrant smoke until it burns down to the wood. Most incense sticks will burn for approx 20 minutes and leave an area beautifully fragranced.
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Cones don't have the luxury of a nice bit of stick to hold, but they are ignited in the same way, by applying a flame to the tip, allowing the cone to catch, and again gently blow out the flame to leave the tip glowing red and giving off fragrant smoke.
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