Incense sticks or cones? A detailed comparison of ingredients & uses – Kin Objects
The history of incense is extensive, and there are numerous varieties. Today, the two most popular shapes for incense are sticks and cones. Since we hand blend and create both of these varieties in our studio, these are the ones we are most familiar with. This post will concentrate on contrasting the two in great depth.
Before we begin, it should be noted that we also have two articles that go into great detail about how we make our incense cones and sticks by hand. While some of the details are outlined below, please refer to those if you are interested in more information.)
How Incense Sticks Are Made
The Ming Dynasty (1348–1644) in China saw the introduction of the first stick-shaped incense, which has since grown to be the most widely used type of incense. The term “joss sticks” may occasionally be used to refer to incense sticks, but we try to avoid doing so because we believe it has come to mean mostly less expensive, lower quality sticks.
Incense sticks come in two varieties: one with a center and one without.
The style with a center is considered to have more Indian roots and connotations. The bamboo center is nearly typically used to make the well-known Nag Champa incense. This kind of stick incense is created by layering waters, essential oils, and incense powders onto a thin, bare bamboo stick. Except for the bottom, where the bamboo stick is exposed and where you hold the finished incense stick or insert it into a holder, the incense stick is mostly covered with thick layers of the mixture.
The form without a center is more frequently used in China and is nearly only found in Tibet and Japan. If it aids in visualizing, it is prepared somewhat like pasta. First, an incense paste is created by combining powdered dried incense materials with a binding agent and a small amount of water. A sort of wood powder known as Nanmu in Chinese or Makko in Japanese is frequently used as the binding agent. The incense mixture is then shaped into a stick and left to dry.
Similar to how essential oils or perfume ingredients are blended in specific formulas, the actual blend of incense powder in each type of incense stick is carefully chosen to produce a specific final scent.
How Incense Cones Are Made
The construction of standard incense cones is remarkably similar to that of incense without a core. If you want to stick with the metaphor from earlier, you could imagine it as being a new type of “pasta.” Incense paste is poured into cone-shaped molds, removed, and then allowed to dry rather than being fashioned into a long, thin stick.
Backflow incense cones are a particular variety of incense cone that are very well-liked in our shop. Uniquely, the incense smoke from backflow incense cones travels downward rather than upward. In the middle of these cones, there is a little hollow tube that extends through 3/4 of the cone and terminates in a hole at the bottom. (This gives more information about the operation of backflow incense.)
Are the Ingredients for Incense Sticks and Cones Different?
The sorts of components used in stick incense and cone incense are fairly similar, as you can see from the descriptions above. They resemble pasta in that they come in many shapes.
The most costly incense is typically constructed in stick shape without a core, it should be noted. This is due to various factors. First, because an incense stick burns more gradually and evenly, it uses up the ingredients more gradually and, if they are expensive, allows one to savor them for a longer period of time.
Second, incense sticks are simpler to produce and dry than incense cones, which require specific textures to form effectively in the mold and dry in the cone shape. As a result, incense sticks allow for a wider variety and combination of blends.
Last but not least, the most expensive incense lacks a core. Some costly cored incense sticks are produced with a sandalwood core because bamboo cores have an odor that some people find repulsive. For those who prefer to truly experience the scent of specific blends or materials other than sandalwood, however, the preference is to have no core because even sandalwood distorts the scent of the incense paste blend.
Are the steps to lighting stick incense and cone incense different?
Similar to incense cones, incense sticks are lit by lighting the tip, spreading the flame, and leaving a burning ember. However, since the tip of the stick catches the flame more readily, novice users will find incense sticks somewhat simpler to light. (We also provide detailed instructions for lighting backflow incense cones and incense sticks.)