This is the second segment of three, covering Nikhil’s dipped Nag Champas, all of which are only available in large 100g batches, which cost approximately $7 each. While we’re not given much information at all on the ingredients involved in these incenses, I’d easily guess that the company takes their general Nag Champa incense and dips them liberally in oil, and probably synthetic oils in most cases.
The reasoning for this is that in some of the cases across the line, there are no natural oils for the particular scent, meaning they had to be created in some way, and while this can be done by mixing natural oils, there are some, two in this installment, that have the hallmarks of synthetic oils such as a lack of depth and only an approximation of the scent. Now I wouldn’t take that to mean they’re unpleasant, as they also lack one of the prime indicators of synthetic oils, they don’t seem to be, at least in normal use, headache inducing. The champa base also seems to be reasonably good, although having tried some of this line about eight years ago, I would add that they’re definitely not as good as they used to be, probably due to the usual halmaddi shortages.
Nikhil’s Coconut Champa is the first of the two that probably used a synthetic or approximate oil for the dipping. For one thing, the smell of fresh coconut has an appealing dryness that is often lost when used in lotions and oils, which seem to accentuate the scent’s closeness to vanilla. Using an oil and a champa strengthens this association twofold, the former resembling vanilla extract and the latter a common part of the base. The combination of the two evinces perhaps too strong an oil content in that later in the burn one notices oily and even citrus like aspects to the scent that while not terribly unpleasant unveil the incense as not being as authentic as one might like. The thing is, of course, there’s really no perfect version of such an incense to compare it too and quite frankly I’ve rarely seen coconut work in any incense and can’t think of one better than this. But I can’t wait for the day I try one that gets the scent of shredded coconut right.
The Musk Champa ends up with some similarities to the Coconut in that it has the same issues with the oil, it seems a little too strong overall with the same, possibly synthetic, extract or citrus-like issues later in the burn. Of course with anything musk related there is no particular standard of scent and indeed with this one, it’s the almost typical dusky, slightly spicy and sweet herbal musk tones that show up rather than anything powerful or memorable. Indeed I remember this one being much more successful in times past and I’d wager that part of the issue is the champa base doesn’t give it the depth it used to have. Blue Pearl’s version of the same scent is a much better example of how it can be done.
Patchouli Champa is the most successful incense of the three which is not particularly surprising when you add up the costs of natural patchouli oil, inexpensive with no real need to use synthetic oils. And sure enough the extract-like issues with the Coconut and Musk are totally absent here leaving a much drier and pleasant incense. Unfortunately, however, it also fails via comparison in that Patchouli durbars found in lines like Mystic Temple or Incense from India are far more successful, with the earthier and leafy tones giving the scent some definition. Here there’s only the lightest touch of the oil, more or less what you might pick up at a local Phish show, and it implies that if the oil isn’t synthetic it’s definitely not a premium oil like, say, Fred Soll uses. But at least it’s an affordable bulk incense.
Eventually up, the final trio which includes Pineapple, Strawberry and Vanilla..