Cigarette Incense

Cigarette Incense

It was a real puzzle working out what these strange little sticks were when I saw them in Hanoi airport – they looked very intriguing packed into bottles and arranged in gift boxes. It took the combined efforts of three shop assistants and some entertaining sign language before I got the picture, so they must have been a bit disappointed when I decided not to buy…

But it is a fascinating concept, and I’d be interested to hear from someone who has bought them to discover if they really do work as advertised.

Essentially, the sticks are tiny slivers of agar wood, which is sometimes called oud and is used in the production of fantastically expensive perfumes in the Middle East. And not just any bits of wood, but heartwood from certain species of the aquilaria tree which has been transformed by mould into a dark, dense resin-like substance which contains a crucially important aromatic chemical compound.

What you do is (using a special cigarette needle if you have one) insert an agar wood stick into the centre of your cigarette then smoke as normal. The effects are apparently fairly special: the perfume from the burning wood covers the normal smell of smoke, making things more pleasant for both the smoker and other people nearby, it also acts as a breath freshener. Not to mention that it apparently reduces nicotine damage and provides some sort of detox for the whole body – especially in the case of wine and beer drinkers. In fact, it is touted as improving male health in general.

I did manage to track down some information online once I was home, and discovered that you don’t have to put these in your cigarette and smoke them to reap the benefits. Apparently some of the same benefits can be gained by simply burning the sticks as you would incense, or making them into tea. Maybe I should have bought some after all…