TWIST ON AN ANCIENT TRADITION
Using charcoal tablets to burn non-combustible incense is a modern variation on a very ancient method. There's no doubt that our ancestors discovered many aromatic substances when they first tossed them onto a smoldering fire. As these unknown substances where gently heated they gave off wonderfully pleasant fragrances that they wanted to duplicate again and again. This method of burning incense is still very popular today, but of course we've created our modern day convenience -- the prepackaged charcoal tablet.
Self-Lighting Charcoal Tablets
Self-lighting, self-igniting or self-starting means that each tablet will light with a single match. They contain saltpeter (sodium nitrate or potassium nitrate) to help them light and stay lit. This is why you'll see tiny sparks as soon as you touch one with a match or lighter. For complete instructions see burning non-combustible incense.
Tandon Charcoal Tablets
This is very pure charcoal traditionally used for the Japanese Koh (incense) Ceremony. It's fragrance free and not made with sulfur, saltpeter or any other chemical additives. This charcoal won't add any unpleasant odors when burned which could detract from your incense burning experience. If you're sensitive to chemical impurities or just want to keep your incense ingredients as pure as possible this is a great way to go. For complete instructions see burning non-combustible incense.
Tabu Or Makko Powder: An Alternative To Using Charcoal
Makko is the bark of the Southeast Asian evergreen tree called tabu-no-ki (Machilus Thunbergii). It's made into a finely ground incense powder which is used as a combustible base material and/or binder. It's an excellent base for burning non-combustibles like resins and other loose incense because it burns slowly and at the same time gives off high heat. It's used together with natural ash to burn incense trails.