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The Art Of Incense Making

Discussion in 'Al Shareef Oudh' started by Al Shareef Oudh, Jan 21, 2019.

  1. Al Shareef Oudh

    Al Shareef Oudh Resident Artisan

    Being a master perfumer composing olfactory delights is an art form that I had a natural ability towards and with professional training I was able to take that ability to a whole new level.

    I always expand my horizons by seeking different dimensions of olfactory expression.

    One such recent expansion was in the field of incense stick making. Whilst I had a solid background in composing bakhoor (middle eastern incense) making those compositions into Tibetan or Chinese style incense sticks was a whole new ball game.. From the selection of raw herbs, woods, spices, resins, musk and ambergris right to the grit to which the ingredients are ground, the choice and quantity of binder, if at all, the making of the dough the diameter of extruding the sticks, the speed of drying and many many more parameters determine how the sticks will burn and ultimately how they will smell.

    With guidance from a wonderful colleague @kyarazen and my mentor Tibetan incense making Master Dezhe who has been making incense for over 20 years, I began this journey two years ago.

    Approaching fragrant materials from a perspective different to what I am familiar with and with a different like and application, but with the same purpose: to uplift the soul of the beholder once the composition is complete.

    Throughout this journey some of you would have sampled some of my works or parts of them, my steps in learning another art form in the wonderful world of olfactory expression.

    Today after many months of composing, grinding, extruding, testing, and runs back to the drawing board, fine tuning testing and repeat I am humbled to have a composition that brings together our Arabic bakhoor philosophy with the Tibetan philosophy of incense making. Welcome 'Doha' 'Doha' in Arabic means morning, this is a new morning for us to explore this wonderful fusion of olfactory expressions a celebration of of Arabian and Tibetan cultures.

    visit our instagram for the video and image story. <<CLICK HERE>>
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2019
  2. Al Shareef Oudh

    Al Shareef Oudh Resident Artisan


    Grounding the heart woods into a fine powder is key to achieving a high quality stick. It is the most labour intensive aspect of the work, the grounding of some of the more harder woods can take many many hours, at the same time keeping in mind that enough material has to be grounded for a batch. A true labour of love. One batch I had hand grounded for over 24hours.


    Once the raw materials are grounded into a fine powder, they then have to be quality checked through a fine mesh to ensure consistency in size. It is also at this stage that the different ingredients are added in, and the profile composition takes place. If the ingredients are not fine enough they will not hold together well, the burn will not be smooth and gradual, and the mixing of the ingredients wont be even. This has a detrimental effect to the final stick both in burn and scent quality.


    Then water is added very gradually and the ingredients mixed, until all the ingredients are bound into a nice dough that does not stick to the utensil. People do not realise how difficult this step is, getting this step wrong can make the extruding of the sticks the most messy and painful experience. The moisture in the dough has to be absolutely perfect so that the sticks consistency is such that it does not collapse, shrink etc.


    The the extruder is loaded with the dough in a manner where there is no air, and the chamber is packed solid. Depending on the mixture the right diameter has to be selected. Finer powders can produce finer sticks, resins, luban etc require slightly larger diameters. In the Tibetan style the sticks are larger in diameter than those of Chinese and Japanese styles.

    My mentor Master Dezhe till this day extrude his incense through through the horn of a bull. He also collects his own herbs from the Himalayan mountains on a weekly and sometimes daily basis. Some of his incense are so intense it makes ones eyes water, and those herbs, plants and shrubs of the Himalayan altitudes pack a serious punch.


    The contemporary Japanese methodology of incense culture takes it's roots from the Chinese incense culture. The Chinese have been using some sort of incense as far back as the neolithic period and becoming more wide spread in the Shu'e, Jung, Juo'e Dynasties at around 2000 BC.

    The incense culture in Japan only dates back 1200 years, when a Chinese Buddhist monk Jien Jun set out on a mission to Japan to spread Buddhism. He took along with him a large collection of Incense ingredients and Spices amongst other things.

    The famous Japanese folk lore of a big chunk of Agarwood washing on the shore and the soldiers burning it for firewood, before the remains were sent to the Palace because the General noted the smell to be beautiful, at the Palace they identifying it as Agarwood. Japanese historians place this event to be after the period that Jien Jun had arrived there and established the understanding of incense, and therefore whilst the common folk had no idea yet (burning agarwood for fire wood) , the nobles were developing understanding of the art.

    The Chinese appreciated 3 things in the evaluation of the incense, the ingredients that went into making the incense, the shape /colour of the smoke and how long the smells lasted. They then expressed the evaluation in poetry that was more than just an evaluation but a reflection on life composed as lines about incense. These three distinct elements were observed in three main methods, Indirect heat, direct heat, and Shape burning. Shape burning was the practice of using incense powder and drawing the shape of one Chinese character, then burning it with direct heat.

    Across the different Chinese dynasties noblemen, monks and people of the high class were encouraged to engage in incense, painting, tea classification and flower arrangement, these were known as the 4 basic gentle arts.

    In the Sung dynasty incense burning was regarded as highly as painting and recitation of poetry. It was studied in the garden or quiet rooms. Guests were encouraged to study the composition of the incense and the shapes of the smoke and the duration of the lingering fragrance. After the appreciation, scholars would express the evaluation in poetry to those present.

    The Tibetan Masters tend to make incense for the temple, or at least the temples are their first clients. It still remains a spiritual journey for many. In our Islamic tradition scent is spiritual, it is following the footsteps of the Prophet and presenting oneself in the cleanest, most beautified presentation spiritually and physically in front of the Creator to Worship. It was in this aspect of our tradition that I found inspiration to pursue the the incense stick olfactory expression. Burning fragrant material on charcoal is a much less labour intensive task and it is a matter of preparing the charcoal and adding the material on top. Most the effort is at the end. With sticks it is the opposite most the effort is at the beginning. The incense stick takes a lot of knowledge, love, labour and devotion to compose and form which in turn makes the final burn much easier, light it an relax.
  3. Ouddict

    Ouddict Forum Co-Founder & Tech Support

    Absolutely superb posts... other vendors and members take note!
  4. Faizal_p

    Faizal_p Resident Artisan

    Great job @Al Shareef Oudh looks like a lot of time, effort and sweat has gone into this. Hopefully not too much sweat!
    Sproaty and Joe King like this.
  5. Joe King

    Joe King AttitOud

    This is why I never buy pizza on hot days :Cautious::Roflmao:

    ps. fantastic post @Al Shareef Oudh :Geek:
    jensz likes this.
  6. Al Shareef Oudh

    Al Shareef Oudh Resident Artisan

    Thank you all for the love.


    lol no sweat but maybe a few tears of pain and joy went in.

    Interesting fact about sweat...French perfumery at one of it's phases which the ripple effects of still remain in modern perfumery today, used to play at the human aromas of the opposite sex, this included sweat, skin, genitalia, hair, nails and elements of those smells were played into fragrances to work as a provoker of thought, feeling and attraction.
    Kabir Attars, jensz, Grega and 2 others like this.
  7. Al Shareef Oudh

    Al Shareef Oudh Resident Artisan


    ‘Doha - The Morning'

    Out now, get yours <<Click Here>>

    Composition: Oudh from Vietnam, India and Sri Lanka, Sandalwood from India and Australia, Taifi and Bulgarian Rose, Kashmiri Saffron, Ceylon Cinnamon and smaller amounts of herbs and spices for fine tuning.
  8. Sproaty

    Sproaty Sproudy Staff Member

    Congrats!! And :O a quote from me (I think!?)
    jensz and Al Shareef Oudh like this.
  9. Al Shareef Oudh

    Al Shareef Oudh Resident Artisan

    1 X 10 grams left

    And handful of 5 grams remaining.

    @Sproaty well picked. Would love to hear further on your impressions of Doha.
    Sproaty and jensz like this.
  10. Al Shareef Oudh

    Al Shareef Oudh Resident Artisan

    only 3 x 5grams remaining
    jensz and Sproaty like this.
  11. Al Shareef Oudh

    Al Shareef Oudh Resident Artisan

    Sold out!

    Watch this space for wonderful sandalwood sticks hand made from 100+year old Indian sandalwood and 65year old FBrothers Mysore oil, pure bliss in sticks the most powdery rose honey butter notes you smelt to date.

    And of course Oudh sticks from sinking grade Indonesian, sri Lankan, Malaysian oudhsoudh other regions.

    Coming soon.

    Thank you all for the love.
    Sproaty and jensz like this.
  12. Al Shareef Oudh

    Al Shareef Oudh Resident Artisan

    sandal incense.jpg

    SANDAL • 'The Complete Aroma' is the most richest, vintage sandalwood you will have the pleasure of experiencing. With notes of dried rose petals and sweet honey buttery sandal it was lovingly ground with care and precision to a fine powder, bathed in 65 year old Mysore Sandalwood oil and then hand rolled one by one into the most amazing incense sticks. [To be released 07/02/19 at 10PM western standard time]

    In the Eastern Attar culture Sandalwood has played an important role in perfumery for generations. The carrier characteristics and the foundation for building a myriad of fragrances, incense, ointments, paan and summer drinks.

    Then there is the famous city of Mysore in India, the Kingdom of Tipu Sultan, the place which became famous not because of the Sultan but the sandalwood factory in the City, the Mysore sandalwood oil company.

    Sandalwood has also been a central piece in the Eastern incense culture, as such, it is only honorable and fair to pay tribute to this beautiful wood by crafting our very own Sandalwood sticks. Having had some very old logs of Indian Sandalwood (100+ years plus) I have humbly shouldered this honour and it is amazing.

    Working through the pictures left to right, 100year + old Indian Sandalwood >> cut into disc sizes to make grounding easier. The resin and oil content can be seen clearly in the photos and the smell when cutting them totally divine. >> After cutting and grounding the wood 65year old Fritchze Brothers Mysore oil was added. >> then hand rolled one by one into sticks.
  13. Al Shareef Oudh

    Al Shareef Oudh Resident Artisan

    SANDAL - The Complete Aroma Incense Sticks,

    Click <<HERE>> to get yours.
    Sproaty and Grega like this.
  14. Al Shareef Oudh

    Al Shareef Oudh Resident Artisan

    last 5!!! Alhamdulillah
    jensz likes this.
  15. Al Shareef Oudh

    Al Shareef Oudh Resident Artisan

    3 Remaining, get yours before its gone!
    jensz likes this.
  16. Al Shareef Oudh

    Al Shareef Oudh Resident Artisan

    Thanks for the love, all sold now! Alhamdulillah.

    What's coming next is a unique undertaking , a very deeply middle eastern expression of perfumery that i will present in sticks, here are some of the ingredients:


    Your jaw has probably dropped and you are most likely thinking "Oh my God", that's right friends, Al Ghaliyah - The Dear Sticks

    you heard it hear first and I am sure others will repeat it after us.

    Watch this space!
    Joe King, jensz and Sproaty like this.
  17. Sproaty

    Sproaty Sproudy Staff Member

    congrats! And wow, sounds amazing.
  18. jensz

    jensz Administrator Staff Member

    Wonderful idea!
    A "Fine Incense Stick" section is emerging in my little collection of Wonderful Fragrant Things. :Inlove::Geek::Thumbsup:
  19. HeidiJoBotanicals

    HeidiJoBotanicals Whats this Oud About?

    I am fortunate enough to have gotten some of each of these two....the Doha is amazing, and I am waiting with baited breath for the Sandal to arrive!!!
    jensz and Al Shareef Oudh like this.
  20. Al Shareef Oudh

    Al Shareef Oudh Resident Artisan

    @jensz @HeidiJoBotanicals

    It is a pleasure to hear that you both enjoyed the incense. It is very hard work and the love from you guys makes it totally worthwhile, thank you.
    jensz, Dan and HeidiJoBotanicals like this.

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