Bukhoor: Fragrances on fire?

Posted by Porvi Vyas on

It’s Wednesday evening, after a long never-ending day at work; you’re sitting, practically lying on your sofa, thinking about whether you’ll be cooking tonight or will it be a takeout. So far all sounds good, then you think of the smell your culinary vision will create and the clean up afterwards, and you cringe inwards! 


Now at this juncture there are three options to get rid of the smell:

  • Open the windows - Definitely the best solution in town! But brrrr…. Canadian winters through the window! Hmm… something to think about before implementing.
  • Ready to Use Air Fresheners - while the temporary fragrance will be great, the downside of this being that you will be breathing in aerosols, which can trigger an allergy. Not to forget stains that can be caused by alcohol present in the fresheners.
  • Use Bakhoor - while there still is a need for some burning and cleaning, there is no chemical fumes or stains to deal with. Moreover its affordable, handcrafted and made majorly of natural products. 

So the question here is, what is Bakhoor? Bakhoor/bukhoor, the word essentially means scented wood-chips soaked in fragrant oils and other natural ingredients.  The Arabic culture has instilled the tradition of using fragrant wood to freshen up the house. However the usage has been way more than just an air freshener. 


Bakhoor has been used by many religions and cultures since ages. There have been mentions of it in the religious scriptures as well. In Islam, the Prophet (Peace be upon him) has encouraged the use of agarwood, stating that it is a unique material in paradise. In Hinduism, sandalwood has been an essential material used in prayer ceremonies and holy rituals. It has been considered as an essential ingredient used to purify the soul and pray to the ultimate Gods. 


The Bible has several citations that state the usage of Aloes (Oud) including a citation that states that Jesus, the son of God, has been perfumed by aloes. The Chinese used aloes to make coffins, the Buddhists used agarwood to make their praying string of beads. The Romans and Greeks used it in religious rituals and to ward off evil spirits. To conclude, bakhoor and the use of incense has been present in most cultures and religions for as long as time can be traced back.


This magnificent art of fragrance has been passed on from generation to generation. Our bakhoor Bint-Al-Arab for instance, is a traditional secret recipe that has been passed down since three generations and uses the most natural ingredients such as rose, jasmine and oud. The secret recipe that has found its way to the heart of millions of people started out of the kitchens of Arab women. Back in the days members used to make pastes by grinding fragrant natural ingredients like sandalwood, saffron, rose, rosewood, cedarwood etc. Wood chips (oud) or resin would be soaked into these pastes along with special oils. 


The mixture was stored in pots for long periods of time and then would be removed from the pot to use as needed. Over time the pots have been replaced with glass jars to enhance fragrances.

Bakhoor was used for special events like wedding ceremonies, parties etc. It was also used to boost positivity in the home and to have fragrant fabrics in the home. Till recent times the usage has continued in a similar fashion. While there is a lot to talk about the usage of this one of its kind fragrant mystery, let’s keep it for another time!


The world of fragrance has a very diverse history. It has travelled the world's corners far and wide. We truly hope that we helped shed some light into Bakhoor and its origin. Stay tuned to know more, learn more and create more, into this unique fragrance journey with us, at HSA Perfumes


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