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What is Frankincense & What does Frankincense Smell Like?

What is Frankincense?

Frankincense is extracted from the Boswellia tree through a resin tapping process. The extraction methods involve careful incisions in the tree trunk to allow the sap to flow out. 

frankincense sap

How Frankincense is made:

  • Experienced harvesters find mature Boswellia trees that are at least 8-10 years old. These trees have reached a stage where they can produce resin in sufficient quantities.
  • Next, a skilled harvester uses a special tool, such as a small axe or a chisel, to make a V-shaped incision or a series of diagonal cuts in the tree's trunk. The cuts are made just deep enough to penetrate the outer bark and reach the resin-producing layers beneath without hurting the tree.
  • Now the incisions allow the tree's sap, or resin, to ooze out. Initially, the sap is a milky white color but eventually hardens and turns into the well known amber or golden colored resin.frankincense droplets
  • Over a period of several days to a few weeks, the sap droplets exposed to the air gradually harden. The hardened resin forms tear-shaped droplets that can be collected. Then the harvesters carefully detach the droplets from the tree trunk.
  • They use a small knife or spatula to scrape off the resin tears, being careful not to damage the tree or surrounding bark.
  • To categorize, the collected resin tears are sorted based on their quality, color, and size. Large, clear tears with minimal impurities are considered to be of higher quality and require a higher price in the market.
  • After being sorted, the resin tears are typically left to dry in the shade for a period of time, allowing any remaining moisture to evaporate. Once fully dried, the frankincense is ready to be used.

It’s important to note that harvesters take care to avoid over-tapping or causing excessive damage to the tree, allowing it to recover and produce resin in subsequent seasons.

The traditional methods of frankincense extraction have been passed down through generations, ensuring the preservation of this ancient trade and its cultural significance.

What does frankincense smell like?

  • woody, smoky pine, bark
  • rich, sweet like honey
  • citrus burst, lemon

The scent of frankincense is an intricate blend of warm, resinous, and woody aromas, with subtle hints of citrus, spice, and sweetness. Its rich and multi-layered profile unfolds gradually, revealing its unique character.

With the first whiffs, a prominent note of woody resin takes center stage. It exudes a profound earthiness reminiscent of ancient forests and spiritual sanctuaries. This woody foundation provides a sturdy base for the olfactory symphony to unfold.woody scents

Beyond the initial woody impression, frankincense reveals warm and balsamic undertones. Its resinous quality envelops the senses, giving a comforting and soothing aura. This warmth is that of a gentle embrace, invoking feelings of tranquility and meditation.

Embedded within the resinous embrace lies a subtle hint of citrus. The scent of frankincense carries delicate traces of lemon or orange, adding a touch of brightness to the overall composition. This citrus note adds vibrancy and lifts the spirit, like rays of sunlight piercing through the dense forest canopy.citrus scents

Frankincense's aromatic tapestry is further enriched by the presence of spicy undertones. There are hints of warm spices such as cinnamon, cloves, or nutmeg, lending an intriguing complexity to the fragrance. These spices infuse the resin with a touch of exotic allure, stimulating the imagination and transporting one to distant lands.

As the olfactory journey unfolds, whispers of sweetness emerge from within the resin. Like a hidden treasure, this gentle sweetness adds depth and balance to the overall aroma of frankincense. It is a subtle and nuanced touch, enhancing the sensory experience without overpowering the woody and resinous elements.sweet scents

Why is Frankincense So Expensive?

  1. Geography: The Boswellia trees, which produce frankincense resin, are native to specific regions of the Arabian Peninsula and parts of Africa. The trees require specific climatic conditions and often grow in arid and rocky terrains, making their cultivation challenging. The limited geographic distribution of Boswellia trees contributes to the scarcity of frankincense resin, increasing its value.
  2. Labor-Intensive Harvesting: The extraction of frankincense resin involves skilled laborers making precise incisions in the tree trunk to allow the sap to flow. This process requires expertise, patience, and meticulous attention to detail. Harvesters often spend considerable time and effort in the collection and sorting of the resin tears. The labor-intensive nature of the harvesting process contributes to the overall cost of frankincense.
  3. Sustainability and Conservation Efforts: Sustainable harvesting practices are crucial to protect the Boswellia trees and ensure their long-term survival. Responsible harvesting involves striking a balance between resin extraction and allowing the trees to recover. Local communities and organizations invest in conservation efforts, which may include implementing regulations and monitoring to prevent over-tapping and protect the fragile ecosystems. These conservation measures also increase the cost of frankincense production.
  4. Cultural and Historical Significance: Frankincense has a rich history and cultural significance, playing a prominent role in various religious and cultural practices. Its association with spirituality and the demand for its use in religious ceremonies and rituals contributes to its perceived value. This emotional and symbolic value placed on frankincense can affect its price in the market.
  5. Quality and Rarity: The quality of frankincense can vary based on factors such as resin purity, color, aroma, and size of resin tears. High-quality frankincense, characterized by clear, large tears with minimal impurities, is often considered more valuable. Additionally, certain varieties or grades of frankincense, such as those produced in specific regions or known for exceptional fragrance, can command higher prices due to their rarity and sought-after characteristics.

Frankincense Benefits & Uses

Frankincense can be used to clean

Frankincense has long been revered for its cleansing and purifying properties, and incorporating it as a wellness molecule into our candles can bring these benefits into your space. When lit, a frankincense candle releases its aromatic compounds into the air, creating an environment that feels refreshed and purified. use frankincense to clean

The frankincense incense is known to clear stagnant energy, dispel negativity, and promote a sense of clarity and balance. It can be particularly useful in spaces where you wish to create a harmonious and pure atmosphere, such as during meditation, prayer, or when you simply want to cleanse the energy of your surroundings.

Frankincense can be used to meditate

Frankincense possesses grounding qualities that can help bring a sense of stability and focus. By infusing our candles with frankincense, we can harness its earthy and resinous scent to anchor yourself in the present moment. Lighting a frankincense candle can create a serene and grounding atmosphere, helping you find inner peace and reconnect with your center.

use frankincense to meditate

 Whether you are seeking a moment of solitude, engaging in mindful practices, or simply desiring a moment of tranquility, the grounding properties of frankincense can enhance your experience and provide a sense of stability amidst the busyness of life.

The benefits of frankincense are vast, and we touch on them more in our other Wellness Journal entries also.