Sunday, October 09, 2016

Incense, and What Passes for Incense

Every so often, my nose will get me into trouble, especially with incense. What smells absolutely stunning sitting in a mason jar at a craft show or street faire smells like total sh*t when burned at home. A few months back I met a sweet man who had just begun an incense business (he said) featuring patchouli and sandalwood and pixie dust and -- well, you know, that stuff that isn't a smell at all but a feeling? Like 'ambrosia', or 'Egyptian sheets'? I used to make incense like this, so I know what I'm talking about -- you can buy 32 oz plastic bottles with super intensely scented, totally unnatural smelling, incense 'oils', which you then cut with DPG to extend your 32 oz bottle to 64 oz, and then dip punks, pre-coated bamboo sticks, until they've soaked up as much scent as they can before laying them out to dry on sheets of brown paper, or if you're really cheap, newspaper or mail flyers/coupons. I'm talking directly about myself here -- I used to be the super cheap chick who would scavenge newspapers for drying incense sticks. This was back in the early 90's, when I was trying to make money and not terribly concerned with the quality of the stuff I was putting out there. I bought boxes of blank punks, gallons of fragrance oils, some DPG, a ton of mason jars, and I went to work. Why? Knowing what I knew about this stuff, how toxic it was (to me, especially), and how much more natural scents had to offer, why would I do this? Again, for money. Desperate times, y'know, and because I was working the craft circuit and got the incense question all the damned time -- do you have Christmas Tree? Do you have Dragon's Blood? Do you have Raspberry? Do you have Pumpkin Noodle Chai Banana Fairy Piss? So, of course, I'd run out and buy a bottle of Pumpkin Noodle Chai Banana Fairy Piss, make a batch, and then sell none because apparently the only person on the planet who wanted it was that guy from two craft shows back! And, for the record, real dragon's blood smells like burning hair and rubber, and not in any way resembles Dragon's Blood incense sticks' scent, but it does look really cool burning. Anyway, back to the incense man at the street faire -- the entire time I was sniffing his incense selection, I was itching to talk to him about REAL incense, but after about a minute in his booth, I realized that anything I said would be met with hostility. He was me in the 90's, out there trying to make a buck any way possible. As a courtesy, because I'd spent so much time in his booth, and because I actually like them, I bought 10 sticks of 'Jasmine' for a buck. Yep. A buck. If that doesn't tell you something about the quality of the work, I don't know what does. Not to say that anything inexpensive means they are cheap, buuutttt, in this case, yes, cheap is just plain cheap. The incense sticks smelled really great just sitting in the car, and the one that's still in there gives off a nice, soothing, almost jasmine-like scent. Burning them, however, is a huge mistake. All I get when burning them is that weird acrid smell of flaming DPG. And I screwed up and burnt a few this morning while I was working, because I'm a freaking moron, apparently, and now I can't get that burnt smell out of my nose, or my house! When I'm done with work, I'm going upstairs to my room and throwing some of Mermade Magickal Arts' labdanum incense on the NEW incense burner I got from them. I'm going to get this stink out of my nose ~ ha!

I wish the incense man luck and success in his retirement business.

This was the first of many lessons sent to me about being true to my nature -- see? NATURE.

I don't mean to offend anyone doing the dip, it's just not for me. I would also implore you to explore other ways of making incense for the sake of balance.


  1. bravo. that made me laugh. thank you.

  2. You're welcome. Thanks for the comment, Andrea.



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