I am fairly new to Orthodoxy, although I was baptized as a baby into the Antiochian Orthodox Church, I did not discover my faith until November 2011. I have taken a liking to incense/frankincense and was wondering if anyone knows what type of incense is used during traditional service in Antiochian Orthodox churches.
Greetings from St. George, Cicero (Our Lady of Cicero).
A good source of incense is Holy Cross Hermitage:https://www.holycross-hermitage.com/cgi-bin/commerce.cgi?listcategories
Their charcoal is also good quality.
The more affordable incense is Somalian or Ethiopian. Ethiopian is the cheapest in terms of cost. Somalian and Ethiopian is what you could call the "basic" incense. It has no real extra additives and is the basic gum from the trees.
What you'll want to do if you can afford it, is you can buy the basic incense like Somalian or Ethiopian. 1/2 lb or 1 lb would do fine. Then buy a smaller amount of one of the other varieties (like Byzantine, Constantinople, Myrrh or Rose) at about 1 ounce or 1/2 lb.
Then mix the incense in a larger container. In church we use a larger bowl for this and then usually place a few spoonfuls of incense into the incense boat (this usually sits on top of the censer stand) so it is ready for the service.
The "other" varieties of incense like the previously mentioned Byzantine or Rose usually are the basic frankincense with a sweet-smelling resin of various scents added. When you burn this incense, usually the resin melts off and can temporarily form a black, solid substance on top of the coal. Too much of this kind of incense can snuff out the coal, wasting both your incense and your coal. This is the reason why, at a couple of the churches I've been to, we mix the basic incense (like Somalian) with the resin incense (like Byzantine). We try for a ratio of about 1:3 (Resin vs. Base) which allows the nice smelling incense to burn without snuffing out the coal. This is also the most economical because the resin-based incense is more expensive in bulk and you can preserve it longer by mixing it.
Another thing we've done in church is switched our resin-based incense at various times to give some variety. During Lent we had the Somalian incense mixed with Myrrh. Then on Pascha we had almost a cascade of scents with Byzantine and Bulgarian Rose among several others.
Also, there is a difference between Roman Catholic incense and Orthodox incense. Historically and even today, Roman Catholic incense imported from Somalia or Ethiopia was ground into a fine powder and then mixed with sawdust. This produces a lot more smoke than typical Orthodox incense and some people have found it to be more irritating their their allergies. I've also found some of the solid Roman Catholic incense to have sawdust mixed in with it, making it a little more harsh.
Sorry if I've been a little lengthy with this. Basically if you want to burn Orthodox incense, you'll need charcoal and the solid gum incense. You can buy both from Holy Cross Hermitage:https://www.holycross-hermitage.com/cgi-bin/commerce.cgi?listcategories