I recently attended the International Federation of Aromatherapists AGM and in the afternoon we had a speaker talking to us about Frankincense resin.
I have some Frankincense resin, that I usually pass around during my Healing Oils of the Bible workshops but I rarely burn it, as I always diffuse my Frankincense essential oil, so I was interested to smell the aroma of the resin and to hear about the different grades of resin available.
We were shown about 14 different resins! Before the resin is packed they are all carefully separated by colour size and smell. This process is called ‘Grading’ and can take from a couple of weeks up to a month. Grading is a unique technique advanced by The Frankincense Store in Notting Hill, London, to bring out the natural qualities and aroma of the resins. It is only the Omani Boswellia Sacra Frankincense that they spend time grading on. Grading can be a very complex task, as every harvest produces different qualities.
Omani Frankincense has been classified into four types according to region of growth.
The finest quality is Hojari, which is from the trees that grow in the Eastern part of Dhofar.
The second grade is known as Najdi, which grows in the Najd area, north of the Dhofar Mountains.
The third class is called Shazri, and its trees grow in the western area and
the fourth quality is called Shabi, whose trees grow in the coastal plain where rainfall is adequate.
On each visit to Oman choosing the sacks personally by Shehbaz Khan is very important to The Frankincense Store, so they know what to expect from each harvest and from what region they are from. The Omanis have their own grading system which works for them. However The Frankincense Stores' complex grading technique has advanced so much that some of their grades are not even available to purchase in Oman.
After choosing the sacks they are shipped to The Frankincense Store's warehouse in the UK and on arrival each sack is graded 1 by 1. All the grading is carried out by store founder Shehbaz Khan, who takes 8 hours a day to grade a 40 kg sack. Firstly all the powder is removed by sieving it from the resins. Simultaneously all the smaller granules are too removed out. Then all the tree bark and any other bits such as stones and twigs.
Followed by the deep concentration of separating every piece by shape colour size begins in natural daylight. The light must be right for them to bring out the best in quality. Too bright and all the colours look the same, too dull and you cannot see all the colours. They look out for our rare Green Hojari Frankincense, which has amazing medicinal properties. All the different grades are sorted into baskets which are then packed into their hessian and retails packs. Sometimes the baskets have to be re-graded to ensure that our resins stay constant in quality. However as all their resins are 100% natural and organic and there will always be slight differences in quality and appearance with every new batch of Frankincense.
The entire process from buying , grading , packing and selling is carried out manually and no machines are used.
Traditionally Frankincense has been burned on charcoal for its aromatic smoke. It also had been since ancient times been used as medicine by taking internally. There are only three types of Frankincense from their range you can digest, and they are the Yellow, Green and Royal grades. All three can be chewed like a sweet or made in to a drink.
How to burn Frankincense resin. Firstly make sure you have a heat proof incense burner. Teracotta is the best material as it can withstand the heat. Use a lighter to heat the charcoal held with a pair of tongs. Place the charcoal onto the incense burner. Wait for the charcoal to fully heat which takes about 30 seconds. Choose your favourite Frankincense resin and place a small tear drop on top of the charcoal. Sit back and enjoy the aromatic smoke.
There are 3 ways to take Frankincense internally. the first way is to just simply chew on a raw piece of Frankincense. No need to wash it , just simply pop it into the mouth and start chewing. The other two are as a drink. To make Frankincense in order to drink it, can only be made with yellow, green and royal grades as these are the three therapeutic grades and have many healing properties.
Frankincense Tea - Pour 3-4 mugs of water into a saucepan. Heat the water and bring to the boil. Drop one piece of Frankincense resin preferably the size of a cashew nut into the pan. Stir continuously until resins dissolves into the water. The resin is very sticky and will leave residue on the side of the pan which is difficult to remove. Try to use all of the resin to dissolve in the pan. Once dissolved pour into a mug. Any small bits of resin are total fine to consume in the drink. We advise you use a pan sole for the use of Making Frankincense Tea. Can be drunk at any time of the day best results are in the morning or night on an empty stomach. Once a day is enough for treating an illness, otherwise every 2 days is great for health.
Frankincense Water - Use a 1 liter bottle of mineral or spring water to add a piece of Frankincense resin. Leave the bottle at room temperature for 24 hours and then place in the fridge. You can drink the water as much as you like through out the day as ordinary water. When the bottle becomes empty simply pour the resin into another bottle or top up the same bottle with water. Repeat the process again. The same resin can be used until the water no longer becomes cloudy. Maximum time for storing the resin in the water is approximately 3 months. Frankincense water is very refreshing and rejuvenating.
References: The Frankincense Store, Notting Hill, London.