Runcato / Copal, Palo Santo

Runcato is a small Peruvian company who provide ethnic/multicultural arts and crafts, essential oils and a couple of incenses from the Amazonian rainforest and the Andean highlands of Peru. The company radiates with the spirit of ecological sustainability and the holistic earth-based spirituality that gave birth to it. In the United States this tends to be represented under shamanism and sold by companies with such an affinity, in fact you can not only purchase these incenses through Runcato’s main site, but also through sellers in the Amazon marketplace.

The Copal and Palo Santo incenses come in two forms, sticks and cones, these reviews are for the stick versions that the company provided samples of. These could be considered premium incenses of a sort, they’re created with a clean and natural mix of ingredients, with very thick sticks that burn for quite a while. Runcato’s Copal is actually one of the few stick Copal incenses you will find on the market. Copal varies widely in scent and style, so it must be stated that the copal in this incense is from the Amazonian rain forest and will differ slightly in scent from copal found in different geographic regions. Those who have sampled Fred Soll’s Copal incenses will know that there can be problems with using this resin in stick form, as the sheer stickiness of the resin can cause it to stick fast to its packaging. Runcato have sidestepped this problem by grounding the resin in a wood base, a style similar to a particular Shroff line (such as their Patchouli) where the main ingredient is mixed with a wood scent similar to the aftermath in a wood shop. The balance between base and the resin is nicely achieved, although obviously this will not be the same thing as copal resin on charcoal. The mix of the two main scents creates a cooling scent that isn’t overtly complex, but the combination does have a slight creamy note, not to mention a strong forest scent with a clarity and power that would make this good for clearing space. If you love the resin, this incense is well worth checking out.

The Palo Santo incense is similarly constructed, however this time the main ingredient is a wood itself rather than a resin and as such the combination of the two pushes this over into a much drier space. The wood base seems to be very similar to the one grounding the copal incense, with a wood powder scent that reminds me of a woodshop after a saw has been active for a while. Given that the Palo Santo is so much closer to the scent of the base, the individuality of the wood’s scent is a little more buried, but having sampled Palo Santo in other incenses, the main scent, which is unique and spicy in a way that’s difficult to capture in words, can definitely be sensed with little difficulty, which tells me that the main ingredient hasn’t been overdiluted by the base. And really if you’ve never tried Palo Santo at all, it’s worth checking out as it has a character and uniqueness that can’t really be compared to anything else.

Given that so much world incense comes from very familiar corners of the world, it’s good to have a couple entries from South America that bring forth the aura and sense of place in a way that is so respectful of its indigenous cultures and I can imagine anyone trying both of these will find them to come with a strong sense of personality and clarity.

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8 Comments

  1. runcato said,

    October 6, 2014 at 1:01 pm

    Hi guys,

    just to let you know I can offfer my incenses and other items through my site again :

    http://www.runcato.com/inciensos.php?ncat=2&ntipo=5

    thank you

  2. Josh Matthews said,

    August 30, 2014 at 4:49 pm

    Mike what is your favorite Palo Santo incense? Me and some friends were wondering about palo santo incense because as well all know, burning the sticks is a hassle as they go out so quick.. We were talking about trying to make our own sticks from powdered palo santo wood..

    2 tips for those burning the whole chunks of wood:

    1. If you have a gas stove, place the chunk of palo santo wood directly on the burner or on the iron things where pots and pans rest, and torch it directly – let it remain on fire for a good 30-60 seconds, then fan it out with a dishtowel – this creates a massive plume of smoke which will permeate the space in a most impressive and delightful way, and the stick will continue to smolder much longer than if it’s just kept lit for a moment or two..

    2. Get one of those butane torch lighters – a 1-2 second torching with one of those will fire that chunk of palo santo up, and you can easily light chunks of palo santo outdoors in windy conditions.. It is quite fun to torch palo santo with one of those lighters :)

    • Mike said,

      September 10, 2014 at 1:57 pm

      Hi Josh. I don’t know if I really have a favorite Palo Santo incense if for the only reason that I’ve just tried two. The one I reviewed here and then one a friend sent me whose name I don’t remember anymore. Both were different styles, the one my friend scent was more of a resin stick maybe in the vein of Fred Soll. Thanks for the tips on burning the chunks of wood, torching the chunks does sound like fun!

  3. alon said,

    July 25, 2014 at 1:54 am

    I keep buying these because i was looking for palo santo insense long burning sticks which are very hard to come by, others ive used just burn out after couple seconds and need to keep relightning which gets annoying but these go for almost an hour strong filling up ur space with its heavenly protective and healing scent <3, have always been happy with runcato and their service and will continue to use, highly recommended!
    Alon-

  4. irinabrian said,

    July 22, 2014 at 3:07 am

    Thank you for reviewing the Runcato line of incense! I’ve been wanting to learn more about Peruvian incenses since I first tried some sticks made by Espiritus Del Andes in the recent past. I was captivated by the distinctiveness of the aroma, which was created by a blend of Palo Santo, Wiraqoya, and myrrh. I look forward to trying the Runcato take on Palo Santo, as well as experiencing some Palo Santo on its own.

    –Brian

  5. runcato said,

    July 19, 2014 at 7:46 am

    Hello,the Runcato Palo santo stick combines the wood and resin of Palo Santo tree, probably this is the only one stick in the world so far that offers this admixture. Has any one here tried the pure resin of palo santo ?Runcato also offers economic incense cones that bring 20 units per box but the sticks are the best in my opinion.Mind they do not use bamboo but wood that is crafted into sticks.Burning the wood raw material is the traditional way but I think that only with charcoal because that combustion will release the finest notes than when burned directly.

  6. erik said,

    June 28, 2014 at 6:05 am

    i bought rucato palo santo a time ago, i Always loved the smell of burning a palo santo piece of wood. A piece of wood doesnt burn for long and that made me bought these sticks. When i compare these sticks with the pieces of wood (wich Always smell a little different) i defenitely prefer the raw material. Don,t get me wrong, these are nice sticks, but the price is very high in my opinion. When i want to burn a palo santo incense stick i,d rather chose palo santo from xiang do, although that is something comepletely different then a good piece of wood releasing smoke without burning when it doesnt touch the tip of the flame underneath it. If you want to smell palo santo, just get some pieces of wood, cheap and lasts long…..

    Erik


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