Incienso de Santa Fe / Seven Scent Sampler (by Nancy)

Incienso de Santa Fe is a company that is in love with wood; they have been making single note wood incenses since 1964. All of their offerings come from trees that are native to America and, in the spirit of conservation, are made from only dead or fallen trees. They have seven varieties: alder, cedar, fir, hickory, juniper, mesquite, and pinon. Incienso does not make sticks or cones, but pressed bricks. These require special burners to keep them upright so that they will burn correctly. The Seven Scent Sampler includes one of these holders plus 7 bricks of each variety, plenty enough to get a good idea of what each different wood smells like. If you’re looking for something a little more artistic, Incienso also offers a line of really cute hand made terra cotta burners, modeled to look like adobe houses, teepees, log cabins, kivas, and the like.

Since these are single-note incenses, it is very difficult to describe what they smell like to someone who has never been exposed to these woods. You may be familiar with alder, mesquite, and hickory because all of these are used to smoke meats. Like pinon, balsam fir and juniper are evergreen so they have a noticeable pine-like aroma. Perhaps you’ve smelled a cedar chest? This wood’s essential oils are a natural insect repellant, making it perfect for the storage of organic fibers like wool and cotton. These incenses are all very, well, woody. (What can I say?) They are distinct from each other, but only in subtle ways. Mesquite a bit more resinous, pinon a bit more sweet, for example. All are very nice and scent your space like you’ve got a big stack of logs burning in the fireplace. Cozy indeed!

Aromatic woods are a major ingredient in all quality incenses and, at under $10, this sampler gives you an affordable opportunity to experience some of these woods as individuals. However, even though all of the 7 different woods are quite nice, the tendency in the end is that they begin to blend together. Also, even with the special burners, it is difficult to ignite the bricks so that they burn well. They are a little brittle and seem to flake apart or separate while burning, sometimes leaving half of the incense brick burned down and the other untouched. Still, it’s hard to criticize Incienso for these technical details when their incense smells so good! After all, one of the best aromatic experience in the world is a good campfire, and these incenses evoke this quite well. What could compare to the smell of giant chunks of wood burned out in the fresh air? Surely this must be the original incense experience!

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5 Comments

  1. Robert said,

    July 4, 2011 at 5:18 pm

    I’m in N.M. as well.
    Have always seen these sets with the burners, but had avoided them because they seemed “touristy” to me. Maybe I’ll re-think that the next time I see one and have some pocket change to spare.
    Every once in awhile, I’ll smell someone burning Pinon or Cedar during the winter. Quite nice.
    Ironically, the incense that nails the Pinon scent best for me is Kala Loban.
    Benzoin/Loban is made from a similar species of Pine, so I guess it’s not too strange.

  2. glennjf said,

    May 18, 2011 at 1:21 am

    I’ve been enjoying the Seven Scent Sampler for a little while now and I can honestly say I got a real kick from burning each of the seven incenses the first time, meeting woods that hail from the other side of the planet. I’d only ever read about the likes of these trees in national Geographic Magazine as little kid, a true delight with every inhale, good to know they’re made from only dead or fallen trees. The pinon and balsam fir sit very well with me however saying that I really would not want to be without any of them.

    More recently I got hold of a packet of the Juniper Ridge incense “Desert Pinon” from mettascents.com. I found the smoke it produces gloriously resinous, totally wondrous. It’s a stick incense this one so it’s a bit easier play around with. It’s a permanent resident in my woods and resins box now together with all of the Incienso de Santa Fe incenses.

    Learn more about Juniper Ridge… http://www.juniperridge.com/

  3. September 2, 2009 at 3:37 pm

    I grew up in Albuquerque and bought my first “Incienso” product at age 12 with babysitting money– a teepee burner with pinon incense. Im 36 now, and no longer in the southwest, but lighting a pinon incense cone (which I do regularly!) takes me right back! They make a very good quality line of products that has endured well, I think! I love your blog!

  4. Terry said,

    June 23, 2009 at 3:48 pm

    Hey Nancy,
    It must be tough to explain the scent of these exquisite woods, as you say, they are single scent scents…. I live in New Mexico and smell these woods from late September through March or April. Can you imagine the smell of say a hundred pounds of Western Red Cedar being burned in a wood burning stove and the scent being spilled over several blocks of residential property? Well, let me tell you, it is unbelievable how great the scent is. We (I) have come to expect this every year. Pine, Cedar, Pinon, Mesquite, Spruce, etc. are all burned in the fall and winter here, what an experience… I even burn Incienso de Santa Fe myself.. how crazy is that?
    They do a great job of bringing these scents to those not so privileged. Yes, you do have to “tend” the burn, but it’s worth it! Thanks.

    • Nancy said,

      June 23, 2009 at 4:12 pm

      Thanks Terry. I’m jealous! I can’t even imagine the sensory overload of a whole stack of cedar burning in the wood stove. Nice!


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