The Hallowed Magic of Frankincense

The word "perfume" comes from the Latin per fumare, translated “through smoke.” Our enjoyment of scent dates to the invention of fire, when humans first smelled the lovely fragrance of flint spark, smoldering leaves, and burning embers. The history of frankincense is ancient, arising in the Middle East where trees of the genus Boswellia grow in the arid climate. Frankincense is collected by making small cuts into the tree's bark, whereupon sap will ooze and form tears of fragrant resin. Boswellia sacra is arguably the most prized, producing a pale golden or green Hougary frankincense in the Dhofar region of Oman. Another beloved frankincense comes from the Boswellia frereana tree, a native of northern Somalia. Frankincense produces a heavenly smell when burned and is prized for medicinal purposes, namely the treatment of inflammation and arthritis.

I use frankincense in two ways. To fill my home with its lovely scent, I burn the tears using a censer and charcoal briquettes. I have been pleased with the quality of Hougary frankincense tears offered by Mermade Magickal Arts. I recommend Three Kings Charcoal briquettes, which can be purchased through several vendors on Amazon.

  The essential oil of frankincense is a nearly clear, transparent liquid with low viscosity. I use the steam distilled essential oil of high quality Omani frankincense in nearly every perfume that I create. Few ingredients rival the importance of frankincense to perfumery. It has both fixative and exalting qualities, which means that frankincense not only helps a perfume to last longer, but it elevates or “exalts” the aroma of citrus, florals, herbs, and spices. Frankincense has a woody texture with a sweet, resinous quality that smells divine.

The essential oil of frankincense is a nearly clear, transparent liquid with low viscosity. I use the steam distilled essential oil of high quality Omani frankincense in nearly every perfume that I create. Few ingredients rival the importance of frankincense to perfumery. It has both fixative and exalting qualities, which means that frankincense not only helps a perfume to last longer, but it elevates or “exalts” the aroma of citrus, florals, herbs, and spices. Frankincense has a woody texture with a sweet, resinous quality that smells divine.

My second and most critical use of frankincense is to make perfume. To experience the essential oil of high quality frankincense, I would recommend that you try my Classic No. 9 or Grenada Orange, both of which rely heavily on its magical aroma. You can read more about my style of making perfume here.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about frankincense. Stay tuned for future articles on ingredients, artistry, and methods that make perfumery a wonderful experience for the senses. If you would like to be notified of our future articles, please join our mailing list.