Berk - Zirbenholz

Holy Smokes (BERK) – Zirbenholz (Swiss Stone Pine)

Bought from a webshop called “Arkanum des Lichts” that are very inexpensive (except for shipping) but have terrible customer service. The pack only cost €2.19 (usual is around €3-4), they contain 10 sticks.

I bought it primarily because an acquaintance of a friend of mine who is a wood turner recently gave me Swiss stone pine wood shavings as a gift, so I could make my own incense sticks from it, and I wanted to compare my own attempts to commercial incense sticks.
(I will publish the recipe for my stone pine incense sticks soon.)

Stone pine wood (Pinus cembra) has a very pleasant scent that clearly reminds you of pine or other conifer woods, but with a unique character. I also really like the essential oil, which can either be distilled from the wood alone or in combination with the needles.
For the past 2–3 years I have been seeing occasional offers for stone pine resin that comes from Siberia (Pinus sibirica cembra), but for me, the smell hardly differs from the resin of the Scots pine, which is common here. Only when you burn it mixed with the wood chips, the characteristic scent arises.

Swiss Stone Pine by Holy Smokes look like their other incense sticks: It is a stick with a hard, dry, not very thick dough application, which is obviously very high in charcoal and has been coated with a bright wood flour to prevent them from sticking together when drying.
The smell is absolutely disappointing. These sticks smell in no way like stone pine, not even pine in general. It smells just a little bit like wood. It’s an absolutely thin, faint wood smoke smell, dry and with no real aroma. At the weekend I tried them (and a few others) with my best friend in his flat, where, as I’ve often mentioned, some scents appear differently than they do at my home. We smelled a slightly sweet note that might be honey, and I thought I could furthermore smell the charcoal there. It smelled like faint but rather unpleasant smoke from a chimney. In fact, shortly beforehand, a neighbour’s chimney smoke came in while I was airing out the room and when I lit these incense sticks, I thought to myself “The smoke before smelled better”. What a disappointment.
The most positive thing I can say about these incense sticks is that they smell so mild that they don’t bother you.

Rating: 1.5

Little update : Steve also reviewed Swiss Stone Pine at the end of 2023.

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