What does the word incense mean?
Incense is an aromatic substance derived from certain trees that is burned to produce a fragrant smoke. The name "incense" comes from the Latin "incensum", which literally means "that which is burnt". This substance was used in religious rituals to purify the air and create an atmosphere that was conducive to meditation and prayer.
In the beginning...
The history of incense dates back to antiquity, when it was considered a precious and sacred substance. Used in religious rituals by the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans, incense was also highly prized for its therapeutic virtues.
In the Middle Ages, silk and spice trade routes brought incense to Europe, where it became a highly prized luxury product. Perfumers and alchemists of the time began to use incense in the creation of sophisticated fragrances, which were reserved for a wealthy elite.
Over the centuries, incense has become a symbol of spirituality and meditation in cultures around the world. In the modern perfume industry, incense is considered a noble and sophisticated ingredient, bringing a mystical and spiritual note to olfactory compositions.
Incense cultivation is a complex process that begins with the planting of incense trees. The main species used are boswellia sacra (olibanum) and boswellia serrata. These trees thrive in warm, dry climates, with well-drained soil. Seeds or cuttings are planted in special nurseries and carefully nurtured until they reach a suitable size for transplanting to the field. Once in the field, the incense trees are planted at intervals to ensure optimum growth.
Frankincense cultivation requires constant attention, as the trees need proper care to thrive. This includes regular irrigation, protection against pests and diseases, and pruning of branches to promote healthy growth. Incense is harvested by incising the bark of the trees, which secretes resin. This resin is the precious raw material used in the manufacture of incense.
After harvesting, incense resin is dried and transformed into different forms, such as grains, sticks or cones, according to local preferences and traditions. Through steam distillation, the essential oil is extracted. Some incenses can also be blended with other natural ingredients to obtain specific fragrances.
The different species of incense
There are several species of tree used to produce incense. Here are some of the main species:
• Boswellia sacra (frankincense): This is one of the best-known and most valuable species of incense. It is mainly grown on the Arabian Peninsula, notably in Oman and Yemen. Olibanum incense is renowned for its sweet, resinous, woody scent, and is therefore frequently used in perfumery:
• Boswellia serrata: This species is native to India and parts of Africa. It is also known as Indian incense or Indian frankincense. Boswellia serrata incense has a more intense, spicy fragrance than frankincense.
• Boswellia carterii : This species is native to Somalia and is often referred to as Somali incense or Somali frankincense. It produces a high-quality resin with a rich, balsamic fragrance.
• Boswellia frereana: This species is grown mainly in Ethiopia and is known as Ethiopian frankincense. It is distinguished by its sweet, lemony aroma.
• Boswellia papyrifera: Native to the Red Sea region, this species is commonly known as Eritrean frankincense or Eritrean olibanum frankincense. Its aroma is slightly fruity and sweet.
These different incense species vary in fragrance, color and quality, making them unique and appreciated in various cultures and traditions around the world.
Frankincense has been known for thousands of years for its healing and spiritual properties, and for its soothing effect on mind and body. It can help reduce stress and anxiety, improve concentration and promote restful sleep. Frankincense is also valued for its antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties, making it a popular choice for improving respiratory health and relieving joint pain.
What do you know about incense in perfumery?
Frankincense is widely used in perfumery to bring a mystical, enthralling dimension to olfactory compositions. In base notes, it adds depth and richness to fragrances. Its complex aromatic profile, characterized by woody, resinous and balsamic notes, lends a warm, meditative ambience to fragrances. Frankincense is often used in oriental and woody fragrances, where it creates an atmosphere of sophistication and mystery.
Frankincense can be used in a wide range of olfactory combinations. Here are just a few examples:
• Woody accord: Frankincense blends perfectly with woody notes such as sandalwood, cedar or patchouli, creating a warm, meditative ambience.
• Spicy accord: Spices such as cinnamon, pepper or cardamom add a vibrant, energizing touch to incense, giving it extra depth and intensity.
• Amber accord: Rich, enveloping amber notes blend harmoniously with incense, creating a sensual, captivating atmosphere.
• Floral accord: Delicate flowers such as rose, jasmine or lily of the valley can soften the powerful presence of incense, adding subtlety and floral harmony to the composition.
• Leathery accord: Incense can be combined with leathery notes, creating an intriguing contrast between the resinous warmth of incense and the sensual texture of leather.
These olfactory accords allow perfumers to play with contrasts, balances and nuances, creating unique, captivating compositions in which incense plays a central role, offering a tantalizing, ritualistic dimension to the scent.
Some popular incense fragrances...
Perfumers use different varieties of frankincense to create unique, captivating scents. You'll recognize these best incense perfumes :
• Black Orchid Eau de Parfum Femme by Tom Ford- Launched in 2006, Black Orchid is a women's fragrance containing Oman incense. It is an exotic blend of floral and woody notes, with a touch of sweet vanilla.
• Les Absolus D'Orient by Guerlain- Frankincense is used to create an elegant, alluring fragrance, captured in a gorgeous bottle. Top notes of bergamot and pink pepper intertwine with incense to create a warm, spicy fragrance.
• L'orpheline Eau de Parfum by Serge Lutens: Inspired by the ashy, woody, mellow notes of Musc Blanc. The hints of mint and incense create a very earthy, aromatic universe. These notes are also counterbalanced by the floral scents of Angelica and Carnation. The result is sensual!
• Memori Encens Lumière by Kenzo is an eau de parfum for men. This fragrance is a mystical cabin of worn leather and the silk of kimonos, majestic robes impregnated with the incense sachets that geishas slipped into their sleeves to perfume themselves.
• Comme des Garçons Avignon eau de toilette is a captivating fragrance that captures the mysterious, spiritual essence of incense. With its blend of incense, cedarwood, vetiver and balsamic notes, "Avignon" creates an intense, meditative atmosphere. The scent of incense offers a mystical, soothing dimension, perfectly suited to those who appreciate rich, spiritual fragrances.
Bon Parfumeur incense perfumes
Discover the mystical, fascinating essence of Bon Parfumeur incense fragrances for men and women. These two best incense fragrances are unisex, completely made in France and celebrate the olfactory richness of this sacred note and transport you to a world of sophistication and sensory escape:
• In a woody register, we find eau de parfum 603. A lemony opening refreshed by the aromatic facets of cypress, the fragrance continues with notes of leather that mingle with incense for a mystical effect. Cashmere wood and tonka bean give the trail a warmer, more sensual dimension.
• Immerse yourself in the scent of the Parisian barber shop with eau de parfum 702! Sparkling, lemony opening notes of elemi give way to incense. The woody-aromatic heart opens with a trio of lavender, cedar and cashmere wood. The vanilla and musk base adds a powerful yet rounded touch to this creation!
"The man who forgives his enemy by doing him good is like the incense that perfumes the fire that consumes him”. - Popular proverb