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 with olibanum or frankincense, but most of the composition should be either. 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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Key Takeaways:

  • 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 unpleasant things may smell differently when burned.
  • Sources consistently agree that in Rome, only pure “gum olibanum” was used as incense for the church.

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“Solid storax was often moulded into blocks or cakes; larger pieces of the black variety, in particular, resemble slate, both in form and colour.”

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