[Updated 7/5/21]

The Olfactory Rescue Service is the new home for the retail incense resource that used to be part of Mike McLatchey’s blog Mike’s Prattle and had outgrown it. The ORS exists to review and discuss the world of retail incense in order to help bridge the gap between East and West in terms of understanding incense and helping the reader find higher quality scents, sources for these scents and to connect with others passionate about fine scent. While ORS cooperates with all reputable incense companies (several of which send samples for review), it currently remains a third party resource and only claims bias in favor of excellent service, fair pricing and the constructive. The following are the writer bios:

Mike: I live in Sacramento, California and work in the field of Medicaid related legislation.  As a music journalist I used to write for several national and international “progressive music” magazines including Exposé, i/e, England’s Audion magazine, Italy’s Melodie e Dissonanze and others. I am a cofounder of the Gnosis Project. I now consider myself retired from writing about music outside of occasional posts on Facebook. I am also a visual artist, my online gallery can be found here. Many of the most recent incense photos use some of these pieces as backgrounds. I was also a musician for many years and played guitar and keyboards, although since the 00s, I have largely retired. Since 2012, I regularly do Ptsen Nuh energy work entirely based on its practical efficacy.

My first education in appreciating and understanding scent came in college, studying viticulture and enology. One lab had us guess wine notes by placing dishes with unknown scents covered by foil. I’ve loved incense since I was a very experimental teenager and the connection between incense and the mind became engrained in my being. Initially, it was Indian incense, but my discovery and exploration into Japanese, Tibetan and other incenses has basically been documented here.

Stephen was born in 1972 in Chicago, grew up in the midwest United States, and had a strong Christian upbringing with conservative parents. In his constant early exposure to religion, one thing that burned into his memory was a smell coming from a thurible of a priest at the funeral of an aunt whom he hardly knew. He was quick to break away from that beginning as he reached adulthood, exploring multiple ideas and situations that led him to TCM, Buddhism, Shaolin, Yoga and Rolfing. He started his career as a technical worker that ‘surfed’ the first internet wave back in the 90s, starting his career working for early ISPs. He currently does remote technical work to supplement income while his clinic is on hiatus due to the pandemic. Currently living in Hawaii, his introduction to Japanese Incense came back in 2014 when he used to live in San Francisco just a couple blocks from the Japantown mall, where Kohshi, the storefront for Japanincense.com, awaited to introduce him to so many different amazing smells. The initial smell that drew him into the store was the smell from that funeral, which ignited a deep passion for learning more about incense. Stephen can be reached at pondhop /at symbol/ gmail.com.

[Previous Writers]

Ross: I was born, hatched or spawned (depends on who’s talking J) Nov 23, 1950. I have lived most of my life in and around Berkeley and Oakland CA. with some time in Georgia  (Naval airbase) and onboard an aircraft carrier (CVA 62) in the Mediterranean for 6 months.

I discovered incense just before going into the Navy. As I remember it was a “Joss Stick” in a red box. Smelled great in my barracks room, but terrible in the hallway outside my door. Ever since then I have wondered at this phenomena. I am still looking for the answer. This is also when I found out that not everyone liked incense. And that there are so many kinds and styles. After the Navy I went into a Junior Collage. I also, at the same time, managed to get to work for the Bill Graham Presents organization for about 4 years (1972-1976) and see quite a lot of really good music, perhaps the perfect college job.

I spent about 10 years as a glassblower, before moving into metaphysics and spirituality.

My teacher was heavily into computers so I too found myself using them. Early Macintoshes, Amigas and the PCs of the time for publishing and audio/video editing.

Currently by day I work at UC Berkeley as a network and computer repair and troubleshooter person. At night I teach meditation, healing and some other classes at a school that has been around now for 25 years. In fact I just presented my first class on incense there. Great fun and something I plan on doing a lot more of.

I love incense and all things that smell good. I also like motorcycles and plan to be back on board one as soon as I get a new hip. I have read Science Fiction and Fantasy since the 3rd grade, although I have slowed it down a bit over the years.

[Mike: Ross passed away in 2021. As a pivotal writer for ORS during its formative years, I leave his bio here for posterity.]

Nancy: (previous writer for the site) I live in Asheville, North Carolina where I practice Chinese Medicine. I came to this profession through my love of herbal medicine. I first became interested in the healing power of plants when I joined a co-op where my friend was the manager of the herb department. I worked in health food stores for many years, sort of an informal education, and became certified as an herbalist along the way. I furthered my studies through a degree in Chinese Medicine at a school here in Asheville and went on to open a practice in my neighborhood.

Though I appreciate many different kinds of incense, my current interest focuses especially on the Japanese offerings, specifically the traditional herbal varieties. Most ingredients used in these blends have been revered for their healing properties for millennial. Like medicine for the soul, I find that real plant-based incense has a profound effect on my spiritual and emotional well-being.

My introduction into the world of incense began in Junior High when I became infatuated with Gonesh’s Coconut incense, which I purchased at a head shop in the local suburban mall. I was reintroduced to incense years later at a new age store that was burning the ubiquitous Satya Sai Baba Nag Champa. This became my favorite for many years until I started working as a buyer in a health food store that carried Shoyeido. Shoyeido had just expanded into the US market around this time, opening their distribution center in Boulder, Colorado. Exploring Shoyeido’s offerings opened my mind and senses to the complex formulations of this established company, so different from the masala and dipped charcoal incenses I had known before. I have truly enjoyed witnessing the flowering of the US incense market and tip my hat to Shoyeido for opening the door for so many other Japanese companies.

Now I burn incense almost every day. I even take it with me when I travel and bring it along for hikes in the woods. I continue to be astonished by the incredible diversity and variety of what is available. Depending on the blend, incense can be peaceful or stimulating, warming or cooling. It can empty the mind or provoke deep philosophical reflection. It can command your attention with its complexity or simply delight. For me incense is so much more that just an enjoyable smell and my life would certainly be incomplete without it. I am very pleased to have the opportunity to share my love of incense with a wider audience through Olfactory Rescue Service. I hope you enjoy my reviews!

If you’re interesting in contacting ORS, have questions, or are interested in writing for ORS, Mike’s e-mail is sigil23 /at symbol/ comcast.net. Please note that the site is screened for all comments, and spam, nonconstructive, hostile and contentious commenting is ignored and not passed through. If you’re interested in having ORS review your company’s incense, please use the Review Information page for guidelines.



  1. Scott Patrick said,

    September 6, 2021 at 1:33 pm

    Mike: thanks for reviving the Olfactory Rescue Service! Even in its dormant state, this site was a gold mine of information and I enjoyed it immensely. Now that it’s up and going again with fresh reviews, I’m looking forward to visiting often. For depth and thoroughness, there’s really nothing else like it in print or online.

  2. UNCW Aikido said,

    July 15, 2021 at 12:00 pm

    I recently found out that Shoyeido / Ranka (Orchid) has been discontinued. Are there any companies/incense that you would recommend that are similar to Ranka?

    Thank you,

    • Mike said,

      July 15, 2021 at 12:10 pm

      Not off the top of my head I’m afraid. I haven’t smelled that stick in probably over 10 years.

      • glennjf said,

        July 15, 2021 at 4:38 pm

        Tokusen Karin Select aka Karin Select comes immediately to mind.
        I compared the two recently. The Select is not as sharp around the edges, not as sweet or powdery a Ranka but the sticks are not as thin as Ranka so they burn for longer. I like Ranka (Orchid) I occasionally light a stick, pity it’s been deleted, I checked, there’s nothing showing up at Shoyeido ‘s Japanese website.

        • UNCW Aikido said,

          July 19, 2021 at 6:06 am

          Thank you! I’ll order a box today.

          be well,


  3. Dawn Bloink said,

    October 28, 2018 at 5:43 pm

    Did you sell those incense boxes? i am interested. Also your site is good. Your time doing it though seems past. How about getting a school to take up the reigns. I have enjoyed your site very much. I learned much. Been guided by much of it. And yes when i read it, it was far from current (like 2 / 3 years). in a pragmatic thanks, I would be willing to do the leg work to find such a school/university. If you are interested.

  4. coreytopel said,

    January 1, 2018 at 6:42 pm

    Greetings all
    Am sure that at this time all are aware that Paul Eagle of Happy Hari incense passed away last December.

    I fell in love with the line after an order thru Beth at Essence of the ages and soon after messaged him directly.

    Soon after I began to sell to his line wholesale to retailers and it was doing very well up until his passing.

    I know he was abrasive and hard to deal with but took a shining to me and passed the torch before he passed.

    May I send fresh samples of my line your way for a second chance on your awesome Ol Factory site?

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