History Of Incense Hidden In Blurred Past
As the aromatic smoke rises from a smoldering stick or cone, it is filling the air with it essence much as it has done for thousands of years. Although dating the origins of the history of incense is often non-specific, there is mention of its use dating back 5,000 BC. Additionally, there is mention of the main ingredients in many types of incense in the Bible, frankincense and myrrh, almost exclusive to Somalia.
While the history of incense remains a blur, its original use most likely included the masking of unpleasant smells. Often used at funerals to cover the odor of decay or in rooms where a large number of people gathered prior to the use of personal deodorant. It was also used to ward off evil spirits in some civilizations and its use was not limited to only one country or one religion. There are those who used incense simply because the liked the smell.
Incense is made by using a base of either bamboo or another type of soft wood with powdered aromatic inclusions and essential oils from plants. Throughout the history of incense, it was also used for medicinal purposes by some cultures, which dictated the type of essential oils used in it making.
Incense Production Takes Time And Skill
In the early days of the history of incense making it was considered a work of art and a skill that requires the knowledge of not only the types of ingredients to be used, but also in what proportion. The aromatic ingredients and base mixture had to be exact to insure it would continue to smolder once the flames were fanned out and the mixture was evenly distributed. This would insure the effects of the incense were consistent throughout the burning process.
Over the history of incense production processes and new technologies have changed the manufacturing process and the use of chemicals in place of essential oils began when they were developed for the perfume industry. Additionally, there are some scents for which essential oils are not available and the use of artificial chemicals is necessary, such as watermelon, lily of the valley and cannabis.
Throughout the history of incense two main types have evolved, the direct burning incense, which is lit and allowed to smolder until it is finished and non-burning incense, which involves placing a piece of the raw material used in the scent on top of a burning medium, such as charcoal, allowed to smolder with the medium.