The Catholic Church recognizes frankincense as the true form of incense. The gum olibanum was the main ingredient for incense used in Ancient Rome. Other ingredients might be mixed together with olibanum or frankincense, but the majority 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 incense include gum benzoin, cascarilla bark, sandalwood, and storax.
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- One account from 1856 mentions the practice of 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, for church incense, only pure “gum olibanum” was used as incense.
“Solid storax was often molded into blocks or cakes; larger pieces of the black variety, in particular, resemble slate, both in form and color.”