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December 12, 2016 2 min read

If you have ever used joss stick incenses recently, you might experience tears in your eyes. The smell could create a headache or nose numbing. The ash from burning stays on the stick forever unless it is touched.

The scent is very harsh, so sharp that it could make you walk away. It is constant and monotone.

These incenses were made from sawdust submersed with low-quality synthetic oil with a price of $2 per litre. You might ask where we get this figure from? Well, it was sold openly in Kim Bien market Ho Chi Minh City (most "oil" originated from China)

Price for a 50g package is around 50 cents retail in HCM city and $3 in Australia? So cheap and smell so good? 

Recently, a customer told us that our incenses were expensive and smelled "weak" compared to the $2 one. Worst, they asked for a refund and even lectured us how incenses should smell like. Sadly, we know he/she is not prepared to listen. Since this incident, we now attempt to show how you could identify quality incenses

  •  Binding agent:

You could tell the craftsmanship of the images above, chemical or fragrant oil incenses use sawdust and inferior binding agent which will melt under direct sunlight after two hours, the oil vaporises, leaving the remaining the "joss stick" only. The below image is the sawdust incense after two weeks staying on a table under average room temperature, as you could see, the sawdust layer was peeled off by itself as the adhesive substance melted. 

incense saw dust and fragrant oil

Genuine incenses are not cheap to produce, especially with real ingredients but not with any fragrant oils, which makes them smelled "weaker". The binding agent is superior, made from natural adhesive from a species called  Litsea Glutinosa when pressed will produce a sticky substance, scentless when burn. 

As exquisite incenses contain real ingredients, there is no need to use "joss stick" as a base. With the right binding agent, the incense is strong enough to support itself standing without the help of a "stick". The advantage of this method: " stickless" means there would be no stick burn. The consumer would not smell burning bamboo note from the stick.

  •  Scent

At room temperature, fragrant oil incenses already have a sharp smell like soap synthetic room spray. 

Good incense offers a smooth and pleasant aroma.  If it is a sandalwood incense, you would smell sandalwood NOT fragrant oil sandalwood. Similarly, if it is an agarwood incense, it should assemble some oud smell.

When burned, the smoke should not irritate your eyes or noses. High quality incenses produce minimum burn note but light and pleasant experience. You could quickly tell what you are burning. For example, frankincense incenses will have a similar trait of the raw resin but lighter as it is in powder form.

In contrast, with fragrant oil incenses, to some people, it smells good. However, most people will find they are tangy, especially eye-watering experience when they stay close to the stick.

  • Cost

Depends on the ingredient, but generally speaking, if it is too good to be true, then it is. Check reputable incense brand; you would have a good idea.


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