Demystifying Incense: What is Incense? - Soul Space

Demystifying Incense: What is Incense?

The word incense denotes a material that’s burned for the purpose of producing a fragrance. In fact, “incense” is derived from the Latin word for, “to burn”. While this definition clearly states how incense is used, I think the more important question is, “what is being burned?”.

Since beginning my work with Soul Space Incense, I’ve encountered much confusion surrounding incense. Maybe the word incense conjures up images of smoky temples, maybe it feels esoteric, or maybe it reminds you of church. These images remind us of how incense may be used, but do you know what incense actually is? Considering the most common form of this substance is an unassuming, dull colored stick, it’s conceivable that there’s confusion. How would we be able to recognize individual fruits if we only ever knew a fruit smoothie?

At Soul Space Incense, our incense is resins, barks, herbs, spices, roots, seeds, and flowers— all plant derived material. Resins, which provide the bulk of the fragrance in our mixtures, are harvested directly from trees, similar to sap. It’s also worth noting that these ingredients are the basis, that is, the raw material, of any natural fragrance. Meaning, our incense mixtures are fragrance in its most basic and pure form.

And what about essential oils? Continuing with the metaphor of fruit, essential oils are the fruit juice. Essential oil is the liquid produced through various extraction methods of the plant material. So your favorite essential oil— frankincense, sandalwood, lavender—comes, of course, from the raw material— the resin, bark, herb, spice, root, seed, and flower. Our incense mixtures at Soul Space naturally contain the oil since we use the raw plant material.

With all the external forms that fragrance takes, we often neglect to identify the source of its origin. So next time you sprinkle a little incense atop your incense warmer, see if you can identify the fragrance material— the delicate herbs, the sticky resins. It’s all there and it’s all visible. And don’t forget to be amazed, every time, that this fantastic sensory experience is provided to you by a plant.

Back to blog