I'm very allergic to smoke. I used to smoke two packs a day and quit many years ago. I guess it was just overexposure to smoke that brought the allergy on. The first bad episode I remember was in the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew. They burned tons of debris for weeks on end, and started coughing, having respiratory problems and headaches. No - wait. I remember an earlier incident. In 1987 I was visiting my family up north and we went to a restaurant and there was smoking and I was "stuffed up" for a week. But the Andrew aftermath really got me good, and by that I mean bad.
During the mid-90's, I did some freelance PR work for music artists here in Miami, but by 98 or so I had to stop because they still allowed smoking in clubs and I just couldn't attend events I had planned and was hosting.
I still used stick incense occasionally, usually champaca. Sometimes I burned frankincense resin, cedarwood, sandalwood and other natural materials. I had to stop, because even with the ceiling fans to disperse the smoke, it was too much.
About eight years ago, David Oller gifted me with the most wondrous array of incenses (smokeless) and the Kodo bowl components to gently "smoulder" incense. The Japanese incense can be almost smokeless, and quite wondrous in scent quality, but I still had a problem, and my clumsy ways made tamping the makko and arranging the ceremony a bit of a laborious job.
So when Katlyn of Mermade joined the Natural Perfumers Guild and sent me samples of her gorgeous handmade natural incense, all I could do was hold them in my hand and sniff. I could tell they were lovely, but I couldn't release the scent because I didn't want to burn them and release smoke.
Then I found out that Katlyn offered an "incense warmer" that was guaranteed to release the incense, resin, essential oil, wood or other fragrant materials in a smoke-free manner. How exciting!
I believe Katlyn is the only US distributor of these great gadgets, and that she had them rewired and the thermostat tinkered with to make them more compatible to the US market. They definitely look like an piece of Indian technology, with a handle that makes carrying or moving a heated container easy, if also making it resemble a coffee cup. Hmmm.... maybe I should try to warm some coffee grounds and see how that works!
Katlyn provides instructions with it, and I found another friend who had one was being a bit careless, letting it "run" all night. It's not meant to be on constantly. The termostat will shut on and off to keep the temperature you select constant, but overuse is self-defeating as the fragrant materials become "spent" after a time.
Ross, the guru of Olfactory Rescue Service, found out I was getting one and kindly sent me a great selection of loose incense, some 'wet' incense, some sandalwood shavings and such. Waving back to Berkeley and saying thanks to Ross ;-)
After placing the foil liner in the top 'cup' I was ready to go. Oh! Beautiful scent filled my home in less than a minute! Just a small pinch of loose incense spread its aromatic magic to each corner of my home and a bit went out the front door. I kept the setting low, and when it looked dark brown, I shut it off. The scent lingered for an hour or more.
Next into the cup went a procession of fabulous stuff, including Katlyn's assortment of pressed incenses, hojari frankincense, myrrh, opopanax, David's stuff, a drop or two of essential oil, etc.
A few nights ago a friend came by before we went out to dinner and exclaimed at the gorgeous vibe given off by the scent the minute she walked in the front door. I had just turned on the warmer one minute previously, so that shows you how quickly it disperses scent.
Katlyn and Ross warn about putting the thermostat too high, and I have been good about that for the most part. If your hojari is bubbling, it's too high, and you'll destroy the top notes. I do have to turn it higher for some pressed incense and some resins and woods, but I'll get the system down soon.
I hope you will, too. The fragrant smokeless atmosphere I now enjoy is truly lovely and inspiring and I predict the wave of the future for incense and indoor fragrance for homes, salons, spas, offices, etc.