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Incense Journal

The term "Paleo" here is a reference to incense ingredients that predate recorded history. Burning incense is an ancient practice that puts us in touch with memory, both personal and ancestral.

5 Tree Resins That Smell Amazing

Mike Pare

Tree resins only reveal their true aroma profile when burned. They are often the secret ingredient in many incense blends, lending a level of complexity unequaled by artificial fragrances. 

  1. Frankincense - This tree resin is known to have many chemical components, some unique only to it's species. It is so complex that it's fragrance can not be duplicated in a lab.  It's timeless fragrance can be described as clean, piney, and lemony. Some of the ancient species of Frankincense are extinct at this point, but today the finest product comes from Oman. 
  2. Dragons Blood - In Sumatra, the berries of the Daemonorops Draco tree exude a red resinous sap that drips to the floor of the forest.  It is wild harvested by locals and formed into fist sized balls for trade. The fragrance is sensual, earthy, and sweet. It blends well with Patchouli, Thyme, or Red Sandalwood. Dragons Blood is one of the key ingredients in the Zouz Bacchus Blend.
  3. Copal - Native to the Americas, Copal is a clean smelling, fast burning resin that comes in varieties of white, gold and black. It blends well with most incense ingredients especially Cedar, Juniper, or Palo Santo. It is considered sacred in many native cultures. 
  4. Guggul - This relative of Myrrh from the Indian Bdellium Tree is especially sweet, sensual and clean smelling. In it's natural form it is very soft and gooey. It blends well with Sandalwood, Aloeswood, Calmus, Orris Root or Benzoin. It is widely used in ayurvedic medicine.
  5. Sal - Another tree resin from India with complex notes of Spice, Musk, and evergreen terpenoids. It is said that Buddha died between two sacred Sal trees. It mixes well with Juniper, Pine, Spruce and Cedar.