Sandalwood is one of the most expensive woods on earth. This is because it is rare, growing only in certain parts of South and South East Asia and Australia. It’s also a slow growing tree, taking well over 20 years to mature. And finally, sandalwood is expensive because its prized heartwood is used for making several products. Among them, sandalwood incense, which is what this blog is about.
What is Sandalwood Incense Used For?
If you’ve never tried sandalwood incense before, you’re probably wondering what the hype is all about.
Sandalwood incense has long been part of ritualistic practices in different cultures around the world. It is considered sacred in Hinduism and Buddhism. This woody scented herb has several health benefits as well.
Sandalwood has been used for hundreds of years in Ayurvedic medicine, which is a traditional Indian system of medicine. It is also used in Chinese traditional medicine as well. The Japanese use sandalwood too in their religious rituals.
Sandalwood is thought to help balance the mind and spirit, and it can aid with relaxation and meditation practices
The most popular varieties sold in the market are Indian Sandalwood and Australian Sandalwood. However, Indian sandalwood is by far the most popular and valuable because of its richer aroma. Even among Indian sandalwood types, a variety from the south of India, called Mysore sandalwood is the most prized.
So if you’re looking for sandalwood incense, you’re basically looking for one of two types — Indian or Japanese. Although sandalwood doesn’t grow in Japan, the Japanese, like they do with most other things, make amazing sandalwood incense.
With that in mind, here is our list of 5 best sandalwood incense you really need to try.
The 5 Best Sandalwood Incense
1. Made By Yoke Sandalwood Incense by Maharishi Ayurveda
We begin our list with a classic Indian sandalwood incense. Maharishi Ayurveda is a US-based maker of quality Ayurvedic products with a focus on spiritual healing products. This pack of 20 incense sticks by Maharishi Ayurveda is handmade using Indian sandalwood. The aroma is woody and earthy without being overpowering. The sticks have a bamboo core, as is usually the case with most Indian origin incense sticks. The Japanese do it a little differently, doing away with the bamboo core completely, but we’ll come to that in a while.
2. Sandalwood Incense by Monks of Bethlehem
Strictly speaking, this isn’t sandalwood incense. It is sandalwood-scented grain incense. But we love it because it is hand-made by the monks of Bethlehem who live a secluded life in the Chartreuse mountains of France. The grain used is grain incense is usually the resin of the Boswellia tree, also known as the frankincense tree.Frankincense in French means high quality incense, and the Boswellia Sacra tree from which it comes is itself a sacred and endangered tree. According to Christian tradition, frankincense, myrrh, and gold was the gift brought by the Magi to the baby Jesus.
And to the grain of this sacred tree, the monks of Bethlehem added sandalwood oil to create sandalwood-scented frankincense. How cool is that? This is like eastern spirituality meets western spirituality, and we feel this amazing incense should be on every incense lover’s shelf. Just to be sure, this isn’t a stick, but rather incense grains.
3. Sandalwood Incense by Salish Winds
This is the only Australian sandalwood incense on our list, and it’s good. This is a pack of 24 beautifully wrapped sandalwood incense sticks that is handcrafted in small batches by the folks at Salish Winds. It’s made with 100% pure essential Australian sandalwood oil and does not use any alcohol or dipropylene glycol (DPG) that a lot of perfume makers use. The folks at Salish Winds have been in the business of making aromatherapy products since 1996, so they can be trusted to know a thing or two about making sandalwood incense that is actually therapeutic. This product ships from the USA.
4. Kayuragi Sandalwood Incense Sticks by Nippon Kodo
No list of sandalwood incense can ever be complete without Nippon Kodo. Tracing their origins back to 1575 ( although their modern incense business was founded only in the 20th century), Nippon Kodo have become synonymous with high-quality Japanese incense. The Kayuragi sandalwood incense sticks do not have a bamboo core — just pure sandalwood incense. Kayuragi in Japanese means “slowly wafting fragrant smoke”, and this incense surely lives up to its name. Also, what’s with Japanese words having beautiful, deeply philosophical meanings? Remember Ikigai?
5. Sri Sri Tattva Premium Sandalwood Incense Sticks
To round off the list, we’ve got another Indian sandalwood incense. However, this one is special as it is handmade by disadvantaged women artisans in India under a women empowerment scheme run by the Art of Living foundation. Every purchase makes a contribution to improve the living and working conditions of these women. This one has strong balsamic and floral notes on top of the traditional woody, earthy sandalwood smell.
Featured image by Denis Oliveira on Unsplash