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What Is Incense? Benefits, Uses, History and {How To} Making Guide

A material called incense is burnt to provide a pleasant smell. In actuality, the Latin verb for "to burn" is where the term "incense" comes from.

Incense has been there for a very long time; in Egyptian Civilization, Babylon, and Greece, it was utilised in sacred ceremonies.

Incense has been used by people all over the world for a variety of purposes over the ages and up until the present.

  • an element of several religious activities
  • a means of warding off demons or evil spirits, a remedy for unpleasant or offensive scents

In the contemporary day and in the Western world, perfumes rule the large fragrance business, whereas incense production and consumption are relatively low.

In reality, though, incense is the ancestor of fragrances. Many additional goods with pleasant aromas have their roots in incense.

With the tremendous impacts of incense in religious and public rites, the significance of fresh-smelling basic grooming, restrooms with sweetened air, laundry recalling the vast outside, and romance-inspiring scents evolved.

Incense- The whole journey

When burned, incense is an aromatic biological substance that emits fragrant smoke. The phrase can refer to either the substance or the scent. Incense is used for ceremonial, therapeutic, meditation, and aesthetic purposes. Insect repellent or as a basic deodorant are other uses for it. Read more about the best candles for meditation & their benefits.

Aromatic plant components, frequently coupled with essential oils, make up incense. Incense takes on several forms depending on the underpinning culture, and these forms have evolved due to technological advancements and an increase in usage.

The two primary categories of incense are "indirect-burning" and "direct-burning," respectively. Incense that burns indirectly, often known as "non-combustible incense," needs a different heat source in order to burn.


Tree resins, as well as various blossoms, seeds, stems, and barks, are the source of incense. Ancient religions connected their gods to the natural world, and they thought that aromatic plant materials might ward off demons and inspire the gods to visit us.

They also served the utilitarian purpose of dispelling unpleasant odours. Designers use trademark perfumes to capture the mood of their clothing since scents and fashion are so closely related.

The Latin words per and fumum, which translate as "through" and "smoke," indicate that perfume is a derivative of incense.

There are primarily two categories of incense. Western incense, which is still used in churches today, is mostly made from gum resins found in tree bark.

The family's gum-covered hands A resin that conjures the holidays with its beautiful aroma is the Christmas tree. By sealing cracks in the bark and halting infection, the gum guards the tree or shrub.

This resin hardens fast in dry environments. By using a knife to cut it off the tree, it is readily gathered. When these grains of resin are dusted over hot coal, they burn off their aroma and are portable.

Other plants are used to make eastern incense. A large mortar and pestle are used to collect and grind vetiver, sandalwood, patchouli, and agarwood.

To produce a paste, water is added, a little amount of saltpetre (potassium nitrate) is implemented to improve the substance burn evenly, and the mixture is treated in some way before being sold for burning.

This type is known as the agarbatti, or cinnamon stick, in India and is made out of an incense mixture that has been spread out on a bamboo stick.

The Chinese like to create straight or curved strands of incense that resemble little noodles that may be cured and burnt by extruding the mixture through a type of sieve.

Joss sticks are extruded fragments that have been dried into single incense sticks. Joss sticks are extruded fragments that have been dried into straight incense sticks.

Additionally, incense paste is moulded into maze-like forms or letters from the Chinese alphabet that is said to bring luck when burned.

Burning all types of incense exposes the essential oils that have been cured in resin.

Since then the incense burning and indirect burning incense industry have boomed in many other areas.

Incense stick burning since ancient Egypt has spread into incense burners, incense powder, incense cones and raw incense has created a scented smoke, slow burn industry dedicated to various fragrant and aromatic material industries.


Many of the major faiths of the world place a high value on incense. The Arabian Peninsula and the Somali coastlines also produced plants and bushes that contain resin, notably frankincense, myrrh, and the well-known Lebanon cedars.

The cedar wood was moved throughout the Euphrates and Tigris valleys, and the term for incense in the region gave rise to the name Lebanon.

To acquire the resins for daily worship of the sun deity Amon-Ra and for the ceremonies associated with graves, the ancient Egyptians organised elaborate voyages throughout upper Africa.

It was believed that the incense's smoke would carry the souls of the deceased to paradise. Additionally, the Egyptians created cosmetics and fragrances using incense combined with oils, lubricants, and a variety of spices and plants.

The use of incense has traditionally been more prevalent in eastern faiths. The designs from this time until the Ming dynasty (1368–1644) grew progressively close with smoke-breathing dragons and other inventive inventions.

These jars featured punctured lids to let the smoke and aroma escape. The Chinese also used incense for a broad range of purposes, such as scenting inks, fumigating books to kill bookworms, and odorizing clothing.

Even the fan, which was imported into China from Japan, had sandalwood used to build the ribs so that the movement of the fan would disperse the scent of the wood.

In order to allow the aroma from burning incense to permeate the folds of these garments, Japan's incense culture encompasses unique racks for holding kimonos.

Incense fumes were also infused into headrests to subtly scent the hair. The incense sticks used to make the clocks gave out various aromas that signalled the passing of the hours to those keeping track of the time.

What Materials Are Used to Make Incense?

Stick incense is produced with aromatic oils and "punk sticks." All of the parts are made of organic materials. The actual sticks are made out of wood and are located in China.

Each stick's top is covered in a paste consisting of sawdust from machilus wood, a hardwood. The sawdust is quite odour-retaining and absorbing. Additionally, charcoal is used to create absorbent punk, which is used in Indian incense sticks.

Oil from inherently aromatic plants or other perfumes or scents combined with an oil base is used to create the scented oils. According to the smell, little amounts of pigment are used to colour-code the endpoints of incense sticks.

All natural incense has fragrant smoke, which slowly burns and is made of old fragrant techniques like Chinese incense, and essential oils.

What Is the Purpose of Incense?

Incense is a material that emits smoke. It is constructed from natural substances that may be burnt to produce flavorful smoke.

Incense comes in a variety of materials and smells. Rose or cedar are a couple of examples. Others are manufactured with powders, although some are made with resins.

In addition to being utilised for religious and spiritual reasons, incense is also used for health and other purposes.

When burning incense, you will inhale the smoke, just as with anything else that produces smoke. There have been various investigations investigating the harmful effects of incense recently.

One major concern, however, is incense burning which leads to smoke, and air pollution, and slowly burns the environment. Inhaling incense smoke is often attributed to problems of the lungs, especially the old kinds.

Another great issue is when people leave incense burning unattended which may be a huge fire hazard. Incense burning should be treated carefully, with respect and while taking into account the health hazards it might bring.

Too much smoke when burning incense along with leaving it unattended is something that should be kept in check.

Benefits of using incense

Increased focus and serenity

Studies have demonstrated that the essential oils of plants like rosemary, peppermint, and citrus can enhance mental cognition, focus, and clarity.

Decrease anxiety and worry

Specific herbs are well known for their capacity to reduce stress and calm anxiety.

For instance, numerous studies have shown that inhaling lavender oil effectively lowers anxiety.

Encourage sleep

Lavender is well known for its sedative properties and is often used to treat insomnia and encourage sleep.

When getting ready for bed, burning incense scented with lavender essential oil may hasten your ability to fall asleep.

A mindfulness or yoga routine

The use of incense is frequently linked to yoga and meditation. Burning incense is a great supplement to a yoga and meditation regimen.

since some of the essential oils that are most frequently used to flavour incense sticks help reduce tension and improve focus.

Encourage imagination

By focusing and engaging the mind, incense burning can aid increase creativity and the flow state.

Clean up your area.

For thousands of years, Buddhist monks have used incense to purify the air around them. Amazingly, one study found that an hour of incense burning reduced the airborne germs by 94%.

Pleasant fragrance

Of course, simply savouring a smell has advantages of its own. In fact, inhaling pleasant fragrances has the power to uplift our spirits, bring back pleasant memories, and make us happier.

Make sure to look for the greatest incense if you're interested in any of these advantageous effects. When smoked in confined quarters, incense composed of inferior materials and synthetic perfumes actually contributes to pollution.

Find businesses that declare every ingredient they employ, and discover which essential oils speak to you the most.

Some tips for incense burning

  • Let fresh air in while or after burning.
  • Burn each stick separately. If you have asthma or another lung problem, smoking too much might be harmful to your lungs.
  • Opt for sustainably grown all-natural incense.
  • Don't let the incense burn while it is unattended.
  • If you currently have a respiratory problem, avoid burning incense.
  • Use incense that has artificial or synthetic characteristics.

Any yoga or meditation practice can benefit from the addition of incense, and the act of burning it is itself a calming ritual. Therefore, choose an aroma—or four or five—that you really enjoy, and start burning.

What Is an Incense Made Of?

Most often, incense is made of natural ingredients. The original incenses were prepared using fragrant substances including sage, resins, oils, wood, and others.

More components have been introduced to incense over time to improve its aroma, combustibility, and capacity to hold the components of the incense mix together.

The majority of incense kinds require a flame source, such as a lighter or matches. A flame is lighted at the tip of the incense, which can be a cone, stick, circular, or another shape, causing it to burn and release smoke.

The smoke that is emitted is intended to smell nice and pleasant. It may also include readily inhaled particulate debris, which might have negative effects on health.

How to use incense?

Stick incense

The simplest and clearest option might be stick incense. Sticks are typically made of bamboo and have fragrant materials attached to them. These chemicals can be created using essential oils or ground-up dehydrated plant material.

The stick is placed in an incense container, and the tip is lit with a spark or a lighter. You gently blow out the flame once it catches.

A red ember will remain at the end of the stick as it continues to smoulder, emitting fragrant smoke and leaving behind ash.

Some incense sticks are produced without a core made of wood. For instance, joss sticks are a sort of stick incense that originates from numerous Asian traditions, from Tibet to Japan.

Coil incense

Identical to stick incense, coil incense is made into a spiral shape. You should insert the coil into the right burner.

To avoid unintentional fires, use a coil with a wide, shallow bowl that is larger than the coil. More space for oxygen to reach the coil is provided by some of these holders' clips, which attach to the coil's centre and keep it above the bowl.

With a lighter or match, light the coil's exterior end. Blowing out the flame gently will leave the ember still smouldering. Ash will be left behind when the coil burns all the way to the core.

Cone Incense

Cone incense is made of flammable substances and fragrant oils that have been shaped into cone form. In an incense burner, place the cone with the point up.

Because cones generate more heat than sticks or coils, you should make sure your burner is heat-resistant. Sand, salt, or uncooked rice can all be spread out to serve as a heat-absorbing layer.

With a flame or spark, light the cone's tip, and let it burn for five to ten seconds. Then extinguish the flame, allowing the ember to smoulder. Let the cone burn all the way to the base.

Cones of incense will burn for about 30 minutes, however, they may emit more smoke than other incense types.

Powder incense

Aromatic herbs, woods, and resins are pulverised into a powder to create powder incense.

Usually, a piece of charcoal is used to burn this kind of incense. Since the charcoal will generate a lot of heat, a heat-resistant container, such as a thurible, is required.

The container should also be placed on a heat-resistant surface. Sand or salt can be used in this case as well to disperse the heat.

Use a charcoal disc designed for burning incense. Use tongs or pliers, never your hands, to grip the charcoal when lighting.

For around 20 seconds, or until the charcoal ignites, you should apply flame to the side of the disc. After that, put it in your heat-resistant container.

Synthetic vs natural incense burning

Historically, woody plants, aromatic herbs, and tree resins were used to make incense. Finding something created with high-quality materials is significantly more challenging in the modern commercial incense market.

Today's incense is frequently made from unsustainable plant harvesting practices combined with synthetic perfumes.

Government regulation of ingredients labelled as "fragrance" or "parfum" is nonexistent. These substances are harmful to both individuals and the environment, and inhaling their smoke has further negative effects on our respiratory systems.

Synthetic perfumes have been linked to headaches and skin rashes in the short term, but they can have considerably more severe negative impacts on human health over the long term.

Essential Oils and Incense Burning

The nicest thing about burning incense sticks is how quickly they can brighten and cleanse the air. They cleanse our souls, improve our spirits, lessen worry, and they can even shield us from certain ailments. All because of their calming scents, which have a lingering effect wherever they are burned.

Always Place incense holders on a fire-resistant surface. The good news is that you can now produce your own incense sticks at home, whatever the situation may be. Additionally, you may alter the mixture to get the specific scent combination you wish to utilise. Don't: Leave incense burning unattended.


  • Let the incense sticks rest in the essential oils in a long, shallow dish. You may use aluminium foil and fold it into a V shape if you don't have one.
  • The untreated incense stick should be covered with essential oil. It would take about 20 drops of pure essential oil to make one incense stick.
  • The liquid in the box can be used again. After mixing the essential oil with the entire incense stick, keep it in a glass container and allow it to dry for twenty-four hours.
  • The incense sticks are prepared for use after they have dried. This approach is straightforward and simple to use.
  • To prevent spills, you may alternatively add the essential oils using an eyedropper.


You have total freedom in selecting the aroma for incense. There are probably hundreds of mixtures, or you may use your imagination to develop a special and intriguing combination.

When it comes to creating your own incense sticks, be creative. We advise beginners to start out by burning just one incense stick at a time.

Once everything goes well and you've found the ideal mixture, you can produce a lot of them at once.

  • Place your unscented, blank incense stick on an oval dish or a temporary aluminium foil plate.
  • After that, combine two or more of your favourite essential oils. Even only one essential oil might be used.

To make a bunch

The process we went over above is the same one that is used to create a lot of incense sticks.

Let's say you want to create 50 incense sticks as an example. 50 incense sticks will require 50 * 20 = 1000 drops of essential oil if each incense stick required 20 drops of essential oil.

  • Use a measuring cylinder and fill it with the necessary quantity of essential oil.
  • 10-15 incense sticks should be dipped into the cylinder and allowed to soak up the essential oil.
  • For the remainder, repeat the process.
  • Leave the incense sticks in the essential oil overnight to let them absorb it.
  • You're done now!

Essential Oils For Making Incense

Oil fragrance of sandalwood

The earthy, woodsy, and enduring scents of Sandalwood fragrance oil are widely known. It smells strongly of wood, with undertones of floral, balsamic, rich, smooth, soothing, and sweet.

Sandalwood fragrance oil is used to create incense sticks that have a distinctive, alluring, and sensual scent that is intensely earthy and stimulating.

These sandalwood-scented incense sticks are appropriate for burning when meditating, doing yoga, or praying. (1)

Coconut Essential Oil

Incense sticks with unique scents made from coconut fragrance oil produce a calming, revitalizing, and calming environment.

Buttery top notes and a creamy vanilla and coconut base mix make up the coconut fragrance oil.

Incense sticks perfumed with coconut fragrance oil have a strong aroma and burn for a very long period.

Lavender Essential Oil

The calming and exquisite perfume of lavender fragrance oil comes from the fragrant lavender flowers.

Incense sticks with a lavender scent mix notes of fresh cedar with woody undertones, giving the product a rustic feel.

The addition of a dash of eucalyptus and orange blossom makes this well-balanced lavender fragrance oil even more energising and upbeat.(2)  

Jasmine Essential Oil

Jasmine scented oil is frequently used in incense sticks because of its exotic and oriental smell, which breathes life into the air.

Blooming jasmine blooms give forth the exquisite and velvety scent of jasmine perfume. 

Neroli Essential Oil

Aromatic notes of neroli fragrance oil, which is made from neroli flowers, include undertones of eucalyptus, orange, and cinnamon.

This fragrance oil astounds us with its strong citrus scent that is fresh, a little spicy, and joyous.

Because it releases a powerful fruity perfume that clears the air of unwanted odours, neroli scented oil is widely used in incense sticks.

Cherry Blossom Essential Oil

Aromatic cherry and bloom blossoms may be detected in cherry blossom fragrance oil.

It has a beautiful fruity and floral scent that almost everyone appreciates.

The floral aroma charms the senses and calms the body and brain. Incense sticks filled with cherry blossom fragrance oil also give out a pleasant, relaxing scent that cosies up the space.

Is incense a drug?

Raphael Mechoulam, one of the most well-known researchers in her study, stated that "constituents of Boswellia had not been explored for psychoactivity despite knowledge originating from ancient manuscripts."

"When examined on mice, we discovered that incensole acetate, a component of Boswellia resin, reduces anxiety and induces antidepressive-like behaviour. It appears that the majority of worshipers nowadays believe that burning incense simply has symbolic significance."

The researchers gave mice incensole acetate to test the psychedelic effects of incense.

They discovered that the substance strongly altered neuron circuits that are affected by the existing anxiety and depression medications, as well as brain regions are known to be engaged in emotions.

Can incense get you high?

These synthetic cannabinoids activate the cannabinoid receptors on several body cells, including the brain, just like the THC in marijuana. Contrary to THC, these synthetic versions have not been tested on humans.

We do know that they connect to receptors more firmly than THC does. This might account for the stronger and more enduring highs that come from burning herbal incense.

The downside is that users risk developing an addiction, respiratory issues, severe hallucinations, an elevated heart rate, trembling, and even seizures. Much of Europe already forbids the use of herbal incense, and Kansas recently becomes the first state to do so.

So, explain the consequences to your children and urge them to stay away from this harmful medicine.

Can the smoke from incense affect your health?

While some evidence points to the potential health advantages of incense components, what about the reverse? Can incense smoke inhalation be harmful?

The components of incense smoke are diverse. These include the minute particles produced during incense burning as well as other gases, such as carbon monoxide.

Numerous studies have connected incense burning and incense smoke inhalation to a range of negative outcomes. But it's not as bad as cigarette smoke.

Long-term incense burning was linked to a higher incidence of squamous cell lung cancer, according to a 2008 study of individuals in Singapore.

According to a 2009 study of kids in Oman, smoking incense made asthmatic kids cough and wheeze. However, there was no connection between smoking incense and the prevalence of asthma.

The Future

The Customs of making incense have not changed much throughout the years, with the exception of the variety of smells available.

Only naturally aromatic resins or woods, such as sandalwood and patchouli, were used to make incense in the past.

Virtually every aroma can now be replicated thanks to modern fragrance manufacture, and perfumes that were once unavailable are now readily available.

Green tea, candy cane, blueberries, pumpkin pie, and gingerbread incense are some examples.

In Western culture, the practice of burning incense is also expected to alter in the future. In a typical Indian home, 2 or 3 sticks of incense may be lit each day, but in the US, incense users are only permitted to burn one stick every week.


Incense has been around for a while and is used for a range of things, namely comfort, odour removal, and religious rituals. Incense's fragrance is created by a number of typically plant-based compounds.

Regardless of the fact that incense has been used for millennia, there is conflicting research on its health benefits. Studies suggest that incense components may have anti-inflammatory and depressive properties. In other investigations, links between incense use and harmful health outcomes including cancer were discovered.

If you do decide to burn incense, make sure you do it responsibly to reduce any fire risks.

Frequently Asked Questions
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