aroma valley - Musk

Aroma Valley: Musk, Nag Champa, Sandalwood

These three packs I found by chance at the “Itiwana Weltladen”, which only sells fair trade products. Profits are donated to selected help organisations and the shop is run by volunteers.
Unfortunately, fair trade does not automatically mean high quality. A pack cost €2.50, included are 12 sticks that were extruded. On the back it says: “This Aroma Valley incense has been created using only natural oils. Each stick is using the traditional Indian Masala method by Inner Reflection India.” I suspect that oils were mixed into the dough instead of dipping the sticks afterwards to justify calling them Masala. But I find them quite acceptable. (The incense by Hari Darshan I have tried so far appears to be comparable in terms of type and quality, but I like them much less.) 
Here is a link to my review of Chakra Incense from the same manufacturer as these three.
When lit, they do not produce a sooty flame.

aroma valley - Musk

Musk is very powdery and has a light, cool-appearing spice. It’s an old-fashioned smell, it reminds me of my grandma, a perfume or maybe powder that she used. So the scent has a certain nostalgia bonus.
I think they smell perfumey, but not in that synthetic, shrill way which I usually like to describe with the term. You don’t get the impression that you’ve stumbled into a poorly ventilated perfumery.
I’m not sure if the woody undertone comes from the aroma itself, or the wood base. Last time, its sweetness reminded me strangely of coconut. (Coconut shell powder seems to be often used as a cheap base, maybe it’s that?)
Overall, the smell is rather deep and not very complex. The after-smell is better, here the spicy freshness comes back and is also what lingers.
Rating: 2.5

aroma valley - Nag Champa

Nag Champa smell absolutely atypical for this fragrance genre. They’re perfumey in the same way as Musk, but even less complex; everything their smell is “capable of” happens on one level. It is also powdery and woody and rather deep/dark, although it is less tart than Musk. And like Musk, I find the smell old-fashioned.
As long as the smoke doesn’t become too dense, it has a very soft appearance – but if it does, it quickly becomes perfumey, harsh and intrusive.
After a long search, I finally found the floral aspect, which now seems completely obvious to me. However, I really have to call them “artificial” because it is so one-dimensional and generic, and it is exactly the smell that turns unpleasant when the smoke concentration increases.
The aftersmell is noticeably sweeter, vaguely reminiscent of vanilla flavoured cake cream.
As “Nag Champa” they fail completely for me.
Forgetting the name, I give them the rating: 2.4

aroma valley - Sandalwood

Sandalwood belongs to the category of dry, woody sandalwood scents that do not (or hardly) have the creamy, milky, sweet and high-pitched “Mysore Sandal” aroma.
The sandalwood sticks Cottage Industries and Vinasons are similar.
I really like them outside, but I don’t like them in the house, even though I don’t find the after-smell unpleasant at all. There is a recognizable smell of sandalwood, but with a strange cosmetic note.
Rating: 2.3

I have the same problem with all three: I’m caught in a strange dilemma where I can’t decide whether I should call these incense sticks natural or synthetic/artificial because somehow they are both at the same time – which shouldn’t be possible. It is frustrating. I can’t even decide whether I like them or not. My perception of quality makes me want to rate them lower, but for some reason they have a certain charm to me that stops me from doing so. That’s probably the nostalgia bonus.
Ultimately, they leave me puzzled but neutral. I don’t regret the purchase, but I won’t miss them when they’re gone either.
They are definitely at the lower end of the quality spectrum, but they perform quite well within that. Even though they want to give the impression of being completely natural, I don’t buy it.

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