What is Incense?
The ingredients given to Moses by God:
Ex 30:34-38 - 34And the Lord said to Moses: “Take sweet spices, stacte and onycha and galbanum, and pure frankincense with these sweet spices; there shall be equal amounts of each. 35You shall make of these an incense, a compound according to the art of the perfumer, salted, pure, and holy. 36And you shall beat some of it very fine, and put some of it before the Testimony in the tabernacle of meeting where I will meet with you. It shall be most holy to you. 37But as for the incense which you shall make, you shall not make any for yourselves, according to its composition. It shall be to you holy for the Lord. 38Whoever makes any like it, to smell it, he shall be cut off from his people.”
Resins are natural secretions which occur when the bark of the plant is damaged, which provides protection from pests. Frankincense, myrrh, copal, damar, and amber are common resins. Resin don’t give off much scent until they are burned; exposure to high heat causes resins to give off smoke and aroma. Benzoin is a very common fixative with an earthy “vanilla ice cream” scent.
Athonite incense, in the tradition of the Greek monasteries of Mount Athos, are made from pure frankincense tears ground into a powder and mixed with fragrant oils and aromatic wood resins. The mixture is kneaded into a “dough-like” consistency; rolled and cut. The pieces are coated with a very finely ground white clay to mitigate the stickiness to keep the rolled pellets from clumping together. The incense is finally cure for at least 30 days which results in a substance of complex fragrances.
Some popular types of Athonite incense include: Old Church - a woody blend of frankincense, cedar, fir needles, and vetiver. Burning Bush – soft floral with cinnamon, clove, and honey. Jerusalem – powerful rose with berry, and honey. Bethlehem Rose – rose with vanilla. Damascus Rose – intense rose fragrance with rich amber. Byzantium – geranium, lily, wild berry, cinnamon, cloves, and vanilla. Evergreen and Embers - fir, spruce, balsam, cedarwood and moss with touches of cinnamon, cloves, and eucalyptus (great during Nativity season). Nazareth – sandalwood, musk, florals, and cinnamon. Iveron – white blossoms, rose, lily, and musk. Certain varieties of incense are popular during particular Festal seasons - such as rose scented varieties for celebrations of the Theotokos. Other varieties (such as Nazareth) may be "low impact" for those persons with sensitivities to smoke or asthmatic.
Athonite style incense is burned using a charcoal tablet in a “burner” with is usually metal, stone, or other heat resistant container.
(The types of charcoal and charcoal burners are covered in these articles ---->>>>HERE)