The Catholic Church recognizes frankincense as the proper form of incense. However, the gum olibanum was the main ingredient for fragrance used in Ancient Rome. Other elements might be mixed together with olibanum or frankincense, but most of the composition should be either of the two. The details of how church incense is made are usually made secret by those who make it. Other popular ingredients in fragrance include gum benzoin, cascarilla bark, sandalwood, and storax.
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- One account from 1856 mentions mixing cinnamon and cloves with frankincense.
- Multiple sources caution people against mixing too many other ingredients into frankincense since even things that smell pleasant may have a different smell when burned.
- Sources consistently agree that in Roman, only pure “gum olibanum” was used as incense for church.
“Solid storax was often moulded into blocks or cakes; larger pieces of the black variety, in particular, resemble slate, both in form and colour.”