As Pagans, most of us are very familiar with using “loose” incense on charcoal or an incense heater. Most of us are also very familiar with incense sticks, cones, coils and other shapes of “self-combusting” incense. You might be familiar with the best known ancient incense from Egypt called kyphi, but kyphi was developed long after incense had become widely used in many cultures. You might not be familiar, however, with what is very likely the first form of manufactured incense; the pellet. Although there is no definitive historic proof, it seems logical that this would be the first form of manufactured incense since it is seemingly an outgrowth of herbal medication.
As knowledge of herbal medicine grew, and practitioners grew more skilled, the first “pills” began to appear. These were remedies blended from a variety of herbal medicines and bound together into pellet form, often by the addition of honey as a binder and a sweetener. At some point someone (whether by design or by accident) placed one of the herbal pills near a heat source and discovered that certain blends give off wonderful aromas. Incense making was born!