Some history of Frankincense
Most people know frankincense from the bible, as it was one of the three gifts given to the infant Christ by the wise men. Frankincense is an expensive incense today and was almost priceless back then. It is highly fragrant, yet subtle.
To this day, historians and theologians argue as to the true symbolism of the gift.
Frankincense was often presented as a gift to kings, some will say. And others will point to the common use of using frankincense to ward off snakes and evil spirits.
Whatever the original meaning of the gift, it has come to have a highly symbolic value for Christians and has a long history of use in other churches and temples.
Ancient roman temples burned frankincense as part of their ceremonies, as did the Egyptians. It is a truly ancient incense and has been used for at least 5000 years.
Medicinal Uses of Frankincense
Besides its use as an incense, frankincense is also used as in ingredient in traditional medicine. It is used to treat a variety of maladies including inflamed joints and anxiety. Frankincense oil has been examined also in several medical studies as a remedy for cancer.
Other Characteristics of Frankincense
Frankincense has a unique fragrance which is instantly recognizable. It smells woody, earthy and ancient, with lemon and pine notes. To really understand the description, you need to experience it.
The word “frankincense” comes to us from old French “franc encens,” which literally means “high-quality incense.” It has been valued throughout history, as a symbol of spiritualism and as a display of wealth.
From where is it produced
Frankincense is produced from the sap of Frankincense Trees. The bark is cut to allow the sap to seep out slowly, and palm leaves are spread to catch the drops. It takes about 2 weeks for enough sap to come out.
This sap hardens to form resin drops, which are collected and sorted. Harvesting occurs 2 or 3 times per year, and the later harvests are considered the best.
Once the resin is collected, it is laid out to dry completely. It dries best in dark, cool places, such as caves. Incense growers leave it underground for months to complete the drying process undisturbed.
Frankincense Essential Oil
Frankincense essential oil is produced from the resin using steam distillation. This pure oil carries some of the characteristics of the scent of the incense.
It is used widely in aromatherapy and is beneficial to the skin. It can be used to treat scars, acne, and to help wounds heal. It is effective against bacterial and fungal infections and also very effective for mood uplifting.
It is also useful as a natural insecticide. In ancient Egypt, it was used to keep pests away from wheat silos. In modern Arabia, it is used to repel mosquitoes and sand flies.
Different Types of Frankincense
There are several varieties of tree which produce frankincense, and each has its own unique quality. Sometimes, resin drops from different sources are combined to create a unique mix.
The best quality frankincense is gathered from Somalia, although good frankincense is grown in a variety of locations. Oman, Yemen, and Ethiopia are also famous sources of frankincense.
In Oman, frankincense is very much a part of everyday life. It is burned in the office and at home. Local people have a great deal of pride for their incense – exports of frankincense are an important part of the Oman economy to this day.