Kyphi – An Ancient Spiritual Incense

Please check out my new book REVELATION! – Reveal Your Destiny with Essential Oils

Amazon USA      Booktopia AU      Amazon UK

and many other stores worldwide as a Kindle and Paperback

Kyphi – An Ancient Spiritual Incense

An image from Egypt depicting a scale & ingredients- pic via

An image from Egypt depicting a scale & ingredients- pic via

Kyphi is an incense or perfume made by Egyptian priests to honour the Gods. Here’s an exerpt from my book, Revelation! Reveal Your Destiny with Essential Oils;

“Kyphi has always fascinated me. Even the word makes my heart skip a beat. The word Kyphi is understood as the Greek interpretation of the Egyptian term kp.t. This is a holy incense created by the priests of Egypt – at least a few hundred years before the common era (BCE or BC), but possibly up to 4000 years ago.

Lists of ingredients were found in inscriptions at the Temples of Edfu and Dendera on the West Bank of the Nile in Upper Egypt. Even so, many different variations on the recipe of this sacred perfume are claimed to exist but most agree that the common ingredients were honey, raisins and wine. Some say it was made of 16 ingredients and others claim up to 36.

Honey, raisin, wine, cinnamon and/or cassia, frankincense, myrrh, juniper, cedarwood, cyperus root and sweet flag, mastic, amber, benzoin and labdanum (gums and resins), aspalathos, camel grass, mint and others may have contributed to it’s magical nature.

Plutach the Greek historian, biographer and essayist wrote about the preparation of Kyphi stating:

     “these are compounded, not at random, but while sacred  writingsare being read to the perfumers as they mix the ingredients”.

Mortar and pestle - so alchemical!

Mortar and pestle – so alchemical !

The priest held the intention of the prayers and sacred poems in their entire being as the perfume was mixed. This illustrates the power of intention at work in its finest form. The incense preparation was used as a temple offereingto the Gods so it was necessary to make it in a holy space with a complete energy of divinity. As the incense was burnt in the evening, the message to the Gods was pure.”

The use of the ingredients of Kyphi was methodical

The use of the ingredients of Kyphi was methodical

I love that it was a very methodical procedure. When I make body oils or perfumes, and I’m using a standard recipe it is very important to me to make sure I add the oils in the same order they have been listed in on the recipe. It doesn’t seem like it would make a difference but it does!

When I first started studying aromatherapy my teacher had us all make the same body oil. Of course we all added the drops of the varying oils at different times, and guess what … yep each oil actually smelled different.

And you can understand why I always talk about intention when you are blending – even if you are just chucking oils into a vapouriser, have good thoughts, it will make a difference.

50 ml bespoke body oil made by me

50 ml bespoke body oil made by me

Happy blending and remember to use your intention when you are creating your formulas. See my article about intention.

copryright SR Banks 2014

Absolutes? Not Absolutely

the fragrant jasmine blossom

the fragrant jasmine blossom can be steam distilled or an absolute

Straight from Wikipedia I thought this was a good explanation of an absolute:

Used in perfumery and aromatherapy, absolutes are similar to essential oils. They are concentrated, highly-aromatic, oily mixtures extracted from plants. Whereas essential oils can typically be produced through steam distillation, absolutes require the use of solvent extraction techniques or more traditionally, through enfleurage.

So basically absolutes are essential oils derived from solvent extraction or enfleurage.

Enfleurage is a term to describe the extraction process. It can be cold or hot and unfortunately animal fats are used. Right off the bat that turns me off. I’m a vegetarian and have been for nearly 30 years. I don’t wear leather and try to be mindful of everything I buy or consume in my life. I don’t buy absolutes for this reason. This method was created hundreds of years ago specifically for perfumery. I really can’t think of anything worse than mixing botanical substances in hot tallow to extract a scent. Blah. And if you didn’t know –  hoofs and other materials from the bodies of horses, cows and pigs are boiled up to make things like tallow and gelatine.

I’m not even sure if this method is used in commercial production at all.

Adorable cow and calf

Adorable cow and calf

In both instances, once the fat is saturated with fragrance, it is then called the “enfleurage pomade”. The enfleurage pomade was either sold as it was, or it could be further washed or soaked in ethyl alcohol to draw the fragrant molecules into the alcohol. The alcohol is then separated from the fat and allowed to evaporate, leaving behind the absolute of the botanical matter. The spent fat is usually used to make soaps since it is still relatively fragrant.


Then there’s solvent extraction which usually uses some type of chemical to extract the scent. Often hexane is used which some people claim is safe, but I’m not quite sure about that. It’s usually alcohol that’s used and I suppose it’s relatively harmless. When this method is used a “concrete” is formed, which is then soaked in alcohol. When the alcohol evaporates, the absolute remains.

the structure of hexane - from wikipedia

the structure of hexane – from wikipedia

Gasoline has a high amount of hexane but I’m not sure about the origin of the hexane that used in absolute production. I’m unsure if it would come from petrol, or if it would be synthesized in a lab and sold by chemical companies. At any rate, I’d prefer to buy a steam distilled oil, or an oil produced by CO2 extraction which is also called Super Critical extraction. That sounds a bit wrong but the CO2 method seems to be an environmentally friendly way to extract aromatic compounds. I’ll do a separate article on that.



Oils that you may find as an absolute –





Lotus – pink and white






Tomato leaf

Violet leaf



And there are probably lots more too. It’s totally up to you as to what oils you buy but I prefer to choose oils that have a more simple extraction method.

Your thoughts?

oakmoss - is this sustainably produced?

oakmoss – is this sustainably produced?


copyright suzannerbanks 2013