The incense can be used as ceremonial offerings and as insect repellant
A Vietnamese teacher has succeeded in making a kind of incense that is both non-toxic and insect-repellant.
Ngo Song Dao, a biology teacher at Phuoc Hiep Middle School in Ben Tre Province, was one of the finalists of the 3rd Agriculture Startup Project Contest in 2017 with her two-in-one incense.
The incense was made from the leaves of quao tree, mangrove trumpet tree or Dolichandrone spathacea, known for its insect repellence property.
Dao used to see farmers in her hometown, Mo Cay Nam District, crumple up quao leaves and rub the substance onto their skin to prevent insect bites.
People also burn the leaves to fumigate their home, as well as using them to make chicken nests capable of keeping off the poultry mites.
Dao said she once saw a note at a temple saying, “Please take and burn one stick of incense only.”
“Knowing how detrimental the incense smoke is to our health, I tried to find some kind of incense material that is not only fragrant and non-toxic, but also repellant to insects,” she said.
This incense can be used not only as offerings to deities and ancestors but also as mosquito repellant, which is suitable for students studying late at night.
The incense is thus “expected to decrease the cases of viral hemorrhagic fevers,” Dao explained.
The trouble was that quao leaves are hard to burn, prompting Dao to look for other easy-to-burn herbs that also give off a pleasant smell to add to the ingredients.
She finalized the product in 2015. The joss sticks release a fragrant smell when burned and keep off mosquitoes as expected.
She signed up for an agriculture startup contest in 2016-2017 in Ben Tre, saying she wanted to learn about startups and to know whether her two-in-one incense has any commercial value.
The judges showed approval toward her product, deeming it pleasantly fragrant and encouraging her to continue pursuing this idea.
Dao’s product managed to enter the 3rd Agriculture Startup Contest in October 2017, hosted by the Business Studies and Association Center.
Before being introduced to the market, the incense was tested by the Center of Analytical Services and Experimentation in Ho Chi Minh City.
It is now distributed on a limited scale in Ben Tre and Dong Thap Provinces.
Vo Thi Phung, chair of the Women’s Union of Phuoc Hiep Commune in Mo Cay Nam District, has encouraged local women to harvest the wild quao leaves growing along their gardens, fields, or nearby ponds and channels to supply the production of Dao’s incense.