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How to burn resin incense

Incense comes in a number of forms. People are used to seeing incense sticks and cones but incense in its resin form isn’t very accessible. Resin is obtained by tapping the bark of trees, producing a naturally rich-in-scent sap which is then dried. It’s been used as part of rituals and ceremonies since ancient times and even the name of frankincense, means “pure incense”.

What’s the difference between resin and incense sticks/cones?

Most incense is made with a combustible material. This helps it to burn evenly to produce the richly scented smoke we’re all used to. However, given the purity of resins, burning isn’t as straightforward as setting it alight. Instead, heat has to be provided from another source.

Using charcoal to burn incense

Traditionally, hot charcoal has been used as the most common source of heat. The resin is placed on the embers, the intense heat of which burns the resin producing a thick smoke. This method isn’t without its faults though:

  • Burning charcoal may not be practical or safe

  • Charcoal contaminates the smell of the incense

  • The heat of the charcoal is so intense that the smoke can be overpowering

How to burn resin incense without charcoal

Our resin burner overcomes these problems. Resin is placed on a mesh disk which sits above a lit tea-light candle. The gentle heat of the flame slowly warms the resin, producing a delicate, pure scent. It acts more like a diffuser and produces a gentle scent over a longer period of time compared to burning on charcoal.

How to burn copal, guggal, oud, bakhoor and more without charcoal

Our burner can be used with frankincense, which comes with the burner by default, but it can also be used with other resins like copal (a sweet-scented resin from the Americas) or guggal (or guggul - a rich resin used in Ayurvedic practices in India and Nepal). The burner can also be used with:

  • Palo Santo – the heat from the candle slowly warms this precious, beautifully scented wood to produce a subtle scent

  • Oud – agarwood chips can be slowly heated, treasuring the rich, pure oud scent

  • Bakhoor – richly scented wood chips traditionally burned over charcoal throughout Arabic cultures

(from left to right: guggal, frankincense and copal incense resins - all available on Etsy)


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