Aromandise – encens ecologique: Copal from Indonesia, Indian Myrrh, Benzoin from Siam, Tolu from Amazonia

You can read the main article about the encense ecologique line here, there you will also find information about prices and possible sources of supply (in Germany).

Aromandise‘s extremely friendly and helpful customer service provided me with a list of ingredients for all varieties of this line. Again, many thanks for that!

Copal from Indonesia

Ingredients: resin, wood powder, natural mineral.

Copal is to be understood as a collective term. What is probably meant by “Copal from Indonesia” is Shorea wiesneri, whose resin is also sold as Dammar.
Dammar resin has a slightly citrusy, tart-fresh but dry smell. In the case of these incense sticks, the tart and dry properties of the resin’s smell are particularly emphasized. I find the smell almost unpleasant. It has a piercing scent and reminds me of old, cracked paint.
The smell is tart, resinous and slightly smoky. It has an astringent effect and has no sweetness whatsoever.

Indian Myrrh

Ingredients: resins, myrrh, wood powder, natural mineral.

Indian myrrh is also called guggul, gugal, mukul (and other variations of that) and bedellium. The botanical name is Commiphora mukul or C. wightii. The aroma is closely related to that of true myrrh (C. myrrha); it’s balsamic, warm, tart to bitter and slightly sweet. Guggul tends to be a little sweeter than true myrrh. Unfortunately, I don’t notice any of this with Indian Myrrh. The smell is relatively smoky, but if the room is well ventilated it develops a woody, warm and slightly balsamic yet tart aromatic aroma, which can clearly be recognized as myrrh. I even smell a hint of the special “mushroomy” note that I usually only find in true myrrh.
I think if you’re looking for myrrh incense sticks without many frills, Indian Myrrh could be the right thing for you. Not for me, though.

Benzoin from Siam

Ingredients: wood powder, benzoin resin, natural mineral.

Siam benzoin comes from Styrax tonkinensisStyrax benzoin is also widely used, which is what we call Sumatra benzoin. (Not to be confused with “styrax”, which comes from trees of the genus Liquidambar – sweetgum.) Benzoins from Siam have a very typical benzoin smell: very sweet, pungent and cough-inducing if the concentration is too high; a high-pitched, sharp smell that can be reminiscent of vanilla and a little bit of cinnamon if dosed adequately. The cinnamon-like aspect is usually stronger with Sumatra benzoin. When I keep the window is wide open, the smell remains mild and unobtrusive, but these incense sticks have the potential to become unpleasant. Actually, benzoin as a single-note smell doesn’t really appeal to me; I see this resin more as a very useful universal ingredient. It’s a bit like an incense equivalent to sugar.

Tolu from Amazonia

Ingredients: wood powder, benzoin resin, natural minerals, Peruvian balsam.

Tolu from Amazonia also contains benzoin resin, but has a very different smell than Benzoin from Siam. The scent appears fuller, richer, deeper. It’s not the one-dimensional, pungent sweetness of benzoin alone. The scent has something honey- or caramel-like. It has a much more interesting scent profile than Benzoin from Siam; not actually complex, but not boring either.
Furthermore, it’s much friendlier than Benzoin from Siam, as it doesn’t have the intrusive, cough-inducing quality of benzoin resin. A single, cracked window is easily sufficient for ventilation with these sticks.
If you are wondering why the ingredient list reads “Peruvian balsam” but the variety is called Tolu from AmazoniaTolu balsam and balsam of Peru are not the same, but very closely related. The two substances come from different variants of the balsam tree. The name balsam of Peru is also misleading, as the trees do not grow in Peru. The naming stems from a time when Central America belonged to the “Viceroyalty of Peru” of the Spanish conquerors.

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