Incensed and Inflamed About Inferior Satya Fake Nag Champa Incense?
There is an enormous amount of confusion between Fake Nag Champa incense, and the two Satya Nag Champa companies manufacturing Nag Champa circulating not only within die-hard incense enthusiast circles, but also amongst many retailers that sell Nag Champa incense.
Satya Nag Champa is in all probability the best selling and most sought after incense in western developed countries. This fact alone means there is plenty of counterfeit Fake Nag Champa Incense around. The old-time favourite incense brand made by Shrinivas Sugandhalaya of India has been around for decades.
In this definitive guide to authentic and Fake Nag Champa, I will try and outline the differences between fake Nag Champer and the two different companies (and different manufacturing processes) selling branded Satya Nag Champa incense. It is no wonder why many people are asking what is the so-called real deal and what is fake Satya Nag Champa? This article is not about other reputable incense brands selling the Nag Champa aroma, just the Satya ones.
The debate about whether or not the Nag Champa that has just been purchased from a shop or website is fake Satya Nag Champa or not is becoming almost as old as the Shrinivas Sugandhalaya Nag Champa brand itself.
Is it Authentic or is it Fake Nag Champa Incense?
Is it the genuine one or the Fake Nag Champa? Unfortunately for some shops and websites selling the Shrinivas Sugandhalaya Nag Champa incense, they themselves either do not know that there is any difference or cannot tell the difference. Here the problem begins for the retailer, they order in stocks of Nag Champa incense from either their usual supplier or look around and find a cheaper supplier. The distributor supplier to the retail trade themselves either do not know the difference or are just the type that is into the devious art of lying.
I have personally not only come across several shops and websites selling Fake Nag Champa incense under the Satya brand, but also distributors and suppliers to the retail trade selling Fake Nag Champa. The trade websites all look good along with pictures of authentic-looking incense. But alas the actual incense turns out to be a shoddy sham version of the original.
Fake Nag Champa is Not Just Bad Karma, it is Seriously Bad for You
Fake Satya brand Nag Champa is sometimes easy to spot when the packaging is “off”, it could be that the pictures are not quite right, or the package writing has spelling mistakes. Once you open the packet and burn the incense, you usually know by the smell that there is nothing pleasant about it.
If you are burning Fake Nag Champa it is a potential health hazard for you as it is unlikely to contain an all-natural plant recipe, instead substituting harmful synthesised petrochemical and perfumery chemicals, some of which may be illegally used in regards to health and safety regulations in your particular country, you are at serious risk to harmful exposure.
As for any retailer selling to the general public fake Satya Nag Champer incense, you are at a real risk of prosecution, not only for compromising the Satya brand trademark but from the public (or legal consumer group) who may sue you for selling potentially dangerous counterfeit goods to them. You could end up with a fine totalling thousands and thousands and end up having to close your business down. It is no valid legal excuse to say you brought it from your supplier in good faith. It is down to you as a business to do the checking requirements.
Just because a trade supplier has been around for years does not necessarily mean they have the genuine Nag Champa, most of them do not import directly from India but are middlemen buying from another company geographically based near them. The more middlemen that the retailer goes through, the more likely it is that fake Nag Satya Champa could enter the chain.
Nothing wrong with going through middlemen, it is how trading has been done since the dawn of mankind, after all, it is often a better and cheaper option than importing large quantities of unknown quality incense from India along with the hassle of expensive shipping and customs and tax to sort out. Not knowing if that shipping container full of incense is any good or not just makes the situation worse. So you can start to see the problem here, it can go all the way up the chain right to the sourcing and importation from India itself.
Why is Nag Champa so popular?
It’s just a matter of preference for most people passed on through the decades of incense burning from older generations to younger generations. A lot of people genuinely love the smell of Nag Champa and hear through friends and social media it is the one to go for, especially more so for the Satya incense brand.
Why is it called Nag Champa?
Nag Champa is a fragrance of Indian origin. It is made from a combination of sandalwood and either champak or frangipani When frangipani is used, the fragrance is usually referred to simply as champa. Original Nag Champa Satya incense originated from India because it is where the champaca plant, its primary ingredient, is grown. It also has a long history in India. This yellow flower was originally used as a hair and body perfume. Back in the day, South Indian women used champa oil to scent their hair and body. In time, monks from Buddhist and Hindu monasteries began using Nag Champa as incense.
Of these—Magnolia champaca, is mostly used to prepare the Nag Champa scent, while Plumeria or Mesua ferrea may be used for scents termed champa and sometimes Nag Champa.
Nag Champa Wikipedia page
The first original incense factory of Shrinivas Sugandhalaya (Bengaluru/Bangalore (BNG) LLP still use to this day resins, gums, essential oils from various flowers, and different blends of natural plant scents from an age-old recipe, only slightly modified to conform to current health and safety laws.
Nag Champa Ingredients
Champaca, halmaddi, and sandalwood base are the most basic ingredients of Nag Champa incense. These ingredients are native to India and Nepal.
Champaca is the main flower oil used, but, over time, other fragrant oils such as rose oils, orange blossoms, and ylang-ylang began being added to different Nag Champa blends.
Halmaddi is a tree resin that acts as a binder to the mixture. It is an excellent binder for making incense because it seals the fragrance of essential oils as it dries up. It carries the earthy aroma that boosts the fragrance of Nag Champa.
halmaddi has become more expensive and difficult to legally get, so sometimes manufacturers use alternative tree resins such as those from pine and cedar when making Nag Champa, the Satya brand is no exception. In the 70s it used to contain far more halmaddi, but that seems to be virtually gone now.
What Does Nag Champa Incense Smell Like?
A lot of people cannot smell the difference between the original Satya (BNG in the address) made in Bangalore, the original Satya (without BNG in the address) made in Mumbai and utter Fake Nag Champa incense unless they have burnt Satya Nag Champa decades ago. Even fewer businesses selling Satya Nag Champer incense can tell the difference unless they have been familiar with the brand themselves for decades.
The champaca plant itself has a rich, velvety, suave, vanilla-sweet floral with warm, dense, peach/apricot-like notes and spicy tea and hay-like undertones. A rather exquisite intensely felt aroma. Although, of course, any perceived aroma is subjective.
Fake Nag Champa, Bangalore Satya and Mumbai Satya Nag Champer Incense
Fake Nag Champa
How to tell Fake Nag Champa? Some things to look out for that could identify Fake Nag Champa incense with the Satya label are any of these:
- Badly printed packaging.
- Spelling mistakes.
- Poor quality pictures on packaging.
- An unpleasant smell when burnt.
- Too much smoke when burnt indicating it is saturated with dangerous petrochemicals.
- Burns far too quickly due to the petrochemical content.
- No seal or a badly made seal on the packet.
- Purchased very cheaply.
- Too many of the incense sticks are splintered
- The incense coating is flaky or crumbled.
Bait And Switch Satya Incense
Many websites and shops as well as online market places like Ebay and Amazon have misleading and mixed up pictures and descriptions of the incense. If you ask them is this the real original Satya incense, they always say yes, it says original on the packet. How wrong they are, either they are misinformed themselves or pulling a bait and switch.
To get the right answer, you have to ask the right question.
That is, they have the first original Satya picture on their advertising, then ship you the Satya that is just original by name and nothing else. One made by machine in Mumbai, the other still hand rolled in Bangalore. It really comes down to the expression of not getting the right answers? Try asking the right questions! As a retailer, you leave yourself open to misleading advertising and a customer refund if pursued through the courts.
Bangalore BNG Made Satya Original Nag Champa
If you are looking for the first original Satya Nag Champer incense that most people are seeking, produced in the original Bangaluru/Bangalore factory and made by the traditional hand rolling method, made by the younger son of Shri Satyam Setti, then this is what to look out for:
- On each retail box and individual packet of incense will be the words BNG written on the address of the factory. Mfrs. Shrinivas Sugandhalaya (BNG) LLP.
- The only address on each and every box and packet will be a Bangalore one.
- Will have a gold band seal firmly attached to each box and packet. Never just a red and blue seal.
- Always has a green earth leaf logo on every box and packet of incense.
- Will have the letters BNG written on the inside of the incense packet.
- As close as you will get to recreating the Satya Nag Champer aroma of the old days.
Mumbai Made Satya Original Nag Champa
This is not Satya Fake Nag Champer incense just not the original first one. Nothing wrong with that if you are happy with it. It is a factory machine made one in Mumbai and appears to be a different recipe than the original hand rolled one despite having the word original in its name. It is made by the eldest son of Shri Satyam Setti.
- Missing the letters BNG from the address on the incense packets and boxes. Mfrs. Shrinivas Sugandhalaya LLP.
- May or mat not have Mumbai on the address on the boxes and packets of incense.
- May or may not have a gold seal on boxes and packets of incense.
- Has a slightly more synthetic perfumery smell when burnt.
- May or may not have a green earth leaf logo on packets and boxes.
A Brief History on the Satya Nag Champa Company
The incense company Shrinivas Sugandhalaya (Bengaluru/Bangalore (BNG) LLP) was founded in 1964 by Shri Satyam Setti. The family business started making hand-rolled incense that later became popularised in the West in the 60s and 70s gaining what is almost cult status to this day. In 1999 the founder, Shri Satyam Setti died and his two sons, Balkrishna Setty and Nagaraj Setty took over the family business.
After Shri Satyam Setti’s death, the Setti brothers started to disagree about whether or not the company should use more efficient methods of producing incense. Nagaraj, the eldest of the two brothers believed in the better potential of using machinery for the future of the Shrinivas Sugandhalaya company.
Nagaraj believed in higher production output and a more uniform produced incense to meet the ever-increasing demand for the brand were worth the initial cost of machinery and doing away with hand rolling. A tried and tested business formula of mechanisation equals increased profits and efficiency as seen in the West’s Industrial Revolution (The Industrial Revolution was the transition to new manufacturing processes in Europe and the United States, in the period from between 1760 and 1820) and since repeated the world over.
The other brother Balkrishna needless to say, did not agree, in the end, Nagaraj decided to form a new and separate company and factory using more modern production methods at a different location where the company’s office is, which is in Mumbai, India.
Both brothers wanted to trade under the old family name of Shrinivas Sugandhalaya. After going to court to settle the dispute, the Indian court ruled both brothers were entitled to trade under the same name as well as make and sell the same incense products. Branding and packaging were nearly identical if not indistinguishable from each other.
The two brothers are now competitors in business selling the same Nag Champa incense brand with the same trademarks and same packaging rather than partners. This has created utter confusion ever since with Satya branded incense.
Read about the Satya incense company in the USA court case when the two Satya brothers fought over names and trademarks, fighting over who had the right of marketing trademarks for the USA market: Setty v. Shrinivas Sugandhalaya LLP
Today in Europe and America the most often marketed Nag Champa incense is that which is from the new factory with Nagaraj at the helm, this success is thanks to Nagaraj’s modern business perseverance.
Unfortunately, die-hard Nag Champa enthusiasts say they can tell the difference, a big difference and the main difference is the actual incense in the packets. Sometimes this difference is that a different recipe than the original hand rolling one is used, sometimes because the new recipe was used to the one decades ago, sometimes because of the machine rolling and sometimes because what people have just brought is an utter fake product. Both Satya incense companies lay claim to being the original family business on their incense packets.
What is The Difference Between the Bangalore and Mumbai Satya Nag Champa Incense?
Most people will not notice any difference because they have never burnt the incense decades ago (I do notice a difference myself, admittedly burning Satya Nag Champa in the late seventies). The inference of quality and floral aroma attributes from the seventies charm still persist today in those looking for the original Nag Champa.
One of the biggest differences between the two official Satya Nag Champa brands is that the Mumbai one is machine rolled, which undoubtedly has an effect. While not totally comparable just think of homemade hand kneaded bread and machine-made factory bread using the same ingredients in a blindfold test- I know I can tell the difference of the effects of mechanisation on a final product, can you?
Is The Mumbai Satya incense Fake Nag Champa?
Absolutely not, it is just different, both the brands have a Nag Champa aroma, but one is machine made, the other truly original and hand rolled still.
Any machine produced incense as well as using a different recipe from the original hand rolling factory will all have an effect, Satya enthusiasts say that the aroma is also quite different, a more intense as well as having a somewhat synthetic floral scent.
The recipe and ingredients with the new Original Nag Champa from Mumbai have undoubtedly changed with the new Shrinivas Sugandhalaya company, due to new health regulation laws in many countries, this is inevitable.
Now (August 2021), just to sow further confusion, this Mumbai factory produced Satya brand incense is also apparently showing hand rolled incense pictures and singing the virtues of hand rolling (although not stating they actually do use hand rolling methods instead of machinery) on its manufacturing website blog.
The niche market for authentic hand rolled incense is increasing every year and more incense manufactures are seeking to cash in on this commercial market drive in whatever way they can.
The debate between the first original Bangalore (BNG) LLP Satya incense and the second “original” Mumbai LLP Satya incense may well continue for some time. I have asked the newer Mumbai Shrinivas Sugandhalaya company for a comment on it for this article, but have not received a reply at the time of publication.
Does any of this make a difference to shops or websites selling Satya incense?
If the website or shop is concerned with stocking the old time favourite, then yes, it does make a difference as word spreads that you sell the original hand rolled Nag Champer for the Satya Nag Champer devotees. If you stock both official Satya manufacturers brands at a different price range and clearly describe the difference you may even find your sales considerably increase as there will still be plenty of people just buying it because of the name, never having tried it before as well as those seeking the first true original hand rolled one.
If anyone would like to add to this article about Fake Nag Champa incense and the two different “original” Satya brands, please feel free to do so by leaving a comment.