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The Ultimate Guide To Incense Burning: Everything You Need To Know

When it comes to incense, all of us have our personal preferences. It helps us relax our mind, lifts our spirit, and brings in a happier mood. It also helps cleanse our home of negative energies by sprouting positivity around. This is why burning incense is an ancient practice that is still in trend.

In fact, burning incense has a lot of medicinal and health-related values as well. This article has everything you need to know about burning incense, its type, usefulness, history, etc. if you are ready, let's get started.

What is Incense?

Traditionally, Incense has been derived from plants that release scent or aroma when burnt. The word 'incense' comes from the Latin word 'incensum,' which literally means "to burn." Burning incense has a vast history.

It has been around for centuries and used globally for ceremonial, traditional, medicinal purposes. In fact, we can still see modern households using incense for hygiene purposes while still following beliefs.

Incense Through Time - A Brief History of Incense Burning

The history of incense is quite deeply rooted. It dates back to ancient Egypt, which first started using incense to fumigate tombs used by priests. However, burning incense has always been an important cultural ritual ever since the plant first appeared.

It is believed that Egyptians used incense to get rid of the foul smell of deads that lingered in the tombs.

We can also find traces of incense used in southern Asia and India as early as 3300 BC. Back then, the dominant belief of burning incense was to banish evil spirits and negative energies while filling an area with positivity.

Chinese ceremonies also involved burning incense. In fact, around the 12th century, the buildings in China used to have dedicated zones for incense burning. During the 6th and 15th centuries, Japan followed the same practice for all their ceremonial arts, battle preparation, and upper-class cultures.

When you make a shopping list today, you may not include frankincense or myrrh, but these two used to be a high-demand commodity between the 3rd century BCE to 2nd century AD - source.

The Middle Eastern Incense route that stretched from the Middle East to the Mediterranean through Arabia played a vital role in the business. In fact, the spice and incense trade built a strong economic relationship between east and west over 2000 years ago.

Despite such long travel, incense (be that in any form) is the critical component playing a significant role in many ritualistic, meditational, and cultural practices worldwide. From the Catholic churches to the temples in India, incense is one of the common threads in most of our beliefs.

The Various Forms of Incense

Incense are available in various forms. You can buy sticks, cones, or even powders to scent your home with a pleasant aroma. Depending on the popularity, the most common types of incense are:

Incense Sticks

Incense sticks are the most common form of incense. They are also the easiest type to handle. A bamboo stick is covered and coated with naturally found or man-made incense components.

The burning time of an incense stick is proportional to its length. The fragrance from sticks is even since it has a uniform thickness of the coated material. All you need to do is light up a stick, mount it on a stand, and let it burn.

Incense Cones

Unlike sticks, the fragrance of cones grows stronger since the bottom of the cone is wider. You light the top of the cone, and the fire descends to the broader part. Cones are ideally suitable for quickly scenting your room. Some cones like backflow incense cones have another nifty trick up their sleeve as well. They burn for an average of 15 to 25 minutes each

Burning incense

Incense Coil

Coils are a better option if you want to scent a larger room. This type of incense can burn for a longer time and has a spiral shape. For example, you can use coils to scent lobbies, hallways, dining areas, or even your spiritual sanctuary.

Incense Resins

Churches and various religious ceremonies often use resins- which are natural tree substances. Frankincense is one type of resin that we use as incense.

This particular resin is said to have a lot of medicinal value and is used to treat skin and hair problems as well. These natural substances are 'tapped' from the tree.

Incense Powders

Incense powders are prepared using various plant matters, resigns, essential oils, and wood (for example, sandalwood). You don't need to burn powder incense. Instead, they can be kept in a cache nearby.

Powder incense often helps to protect your clothes from insects. However, incense powders have a subtle fragrance as opposed to perfumes.

How to Properly Burn Incense

Burning incense depends vastly on its type. For example, lighting an incense stick or cones is simpler than burning resins or powders. In the case of a stick, you just have to light your matches and let the fire burn the incense unless the incense starts burning.

Here are the methods of burning different types of incense. The instructions should guide you if you have never done it before.

How To Properly Burn Incense Stick

Incense sticks are one of the most common forms of incense available in the market for burning. It follows a very simple process.

  • Hold the bare end while you light the other end of the stick. You can also put the stick into a holder and light the other end.
  • Once burnt, the fire will die down naturally. If not, just blow it out gently with your hands.
  • Once blown out, it will exhale the smoke leaving the fragrance around your home.

The burning period of an incense stick is mostly between 20-40 minutes, depending on the coating's length and thickness.

How To Properly Burn Incense Cone

Incense cones are smokier than incense sticks. However, their burn span is less, because of the size. Here is how you can burn a cone:

  • Put the cone point facing upward. You have to light the tip using a matchstick or a flame lighter.
  • The broader portion should be placed downwards. Cones emit a lot of heat. Hence, you can make a heatproof base using salt or sand (or dry uncooked rice).
  • If you’re using one of our Incense Waterfall, you can place the cone on it and burn it to get the soothing waterfall effect.

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You can also buy designer cone stands. Most cone stands are made of ceramic for heatproofing. Cones are excellent for yoga or to scent a room faster as they are usually smaller when compared to sticks or coils.

How To Properly Burn Coil Incense

Coils run for much longer than both sticks and cones. And as said earlier, you can use coils to scent a larger room, lobby, hallways, etc. Burning coils is easy. You will need a coil stand first. There should be a hole in the coil incense to insert the nib of the stand.

Set the coil into place and follow these steps as said:

  • Burn the edge of the coil.
  • Let it light up and, if it doesn't die down on its own, blow it out gently.
  • Wait till the smoke spreads around your room.

If you don't need an entire coil to burn, you can put it off and reuse it later.

How To Properly Burn Powder Incense/Resins

You don't get to burn powder incense or resins directly. Instead, you need a burning element over which you can scatter them. For example, In India, people burn coconut husks over which they sprinkle olibanum or frankincense in India. Similarly, you can use charcoal as a burning element and scatter the incense powders on it.

  • First, light up the charcoal with a matchstick and let it burn for some time.
  • Once it is hot enough, scatter the powder on it.
  • It will then emit smoke that you can spread around your rooms. The powders will burn up in a few minutes. So, you need to keep adding more powder to the charcoal for as long as you want it to burn.

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Burning powders will create a lot of fragrant smoke.

Best Fragrance Options of Incenses


Smell and Purpose


It has a warm and light fragrance that smells rich and musky.


It has a woody smell with an earthy texture. Sandalwood helps to remove negative energy and induce sleep.


It has an earthy smell with musty pine, spice, and citrus notes. Frankincense is an ancient incense material used for purification.


It has a spicy and sweet fragrance that invokes the memories of happy and comfortable days.


It has a very fresh note that can boost your confidence and energy that lightens up your mood.


It smells warm, woody, and sweet. Clove would remind you the most about Christmas.


It has a very balanced smell with notes of fruity and citrusy. You can also find the floral hints lingering with spice notes.


It has a slightly sharp medicinal smell. Eucalyptus has a lot of medicinal values and is used to treat the common cold.


Jasmine has a sweet and rich smell that helps to boost your mood. It also helps to relax your mind.


With a soft and light smell, Lavender provides ample relaxation and improves your sleep.


Lemongrass has a lemon-like fresh smell that clears your mind and enhances your focus-ability.


It is an ancient scent with a woody aroma. Myrrh is widely used for purification and protection.

Apart from these, people also use Palo Santo, Rose, Pine, etc., as a fragrance for incense.

How to Find the Best Incense

The fragrance is a very confusing and personal thing. What your friends may like, you may not. Hence, it would help to consider some factors before you buy incense. Especially if you are to buy them online, you could get help from the following factors:

Incense Type

We have already mentioned the various types of incense. So, before you buy incense, you need to know which kind you would want. For example, most people prefer buying incense cones or sticks because they are cheaper and easier to burn.

Here are some tips for buying incense based on its types:

  • Incense Sticks: Lasts for 20-30 minutes, moderate smoke, suitable for a moderately sized room.
  • Incense Cones: Lasts for 10-15 minutes, heavy smoke, ideal for faster scenting a moderately sized room.
  • Incense Coils: Lasts for 30-40 minutes, enough smoke to scent larger rooms.
  • Incense Powders: Last for a few minutes, produces heavy smoke and heat, suitable to scent larger rooms. You need to keep scattering powders for as long as you want them to burn.

Burning Method

Some burning methods are easier than others. For example, burning a stick, a coil or a cone is easier than burning powder or resin. In our opinion, burning powder incense is a little more complicated since you have to prepare a burning ground first.

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Also, you need to keep scattering the powder, while sticks, cones, and coils will constantly burn without requiring any special attention.

Composition and Fragrance

The fragrance is probably the most crucial factor in buying incense. Incense is available in various fragrance options in the market. You can pick from lavender, jasmine, cedar, bergamot, clove, rose, Myrrh, Vanilla, and a lot of other scents as an option.

Different fragrances have different effects on our brains. If you are buying online and you don't have any idea, you should just go with a regular one and (you can) buy another new one to give it a try.

Customer Reviews

Reviews are essential, especially if you know someone having an exquisite taste in incense. You can then talk to them and get their views on specific scent types.

If you are buying incense online, you can always get help from the review section. You can see what people have experienced so far that may influence your buying decision.

Is Incense Good for Health?

Although not many studies have been conducted on the topic, incense has a lot of medicinal benefits practiced from the ancient types. For example, it helps reduce stress, lightens up your mood, helps you focus, etc.

We also use incense in aromatherapy to treat usual colds or flu. For example, VapoRubs contains essential eucalyptus, cedar leaf, and nutmeg oil (among many others) that provides temporary relief from cold when rubbed on the chest.

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In short, incense, in general, is not harmful to health. Instead, it has a lot of health and mental benefits that uplift the quality of life.

Various Benefits of Using Incense - What is Incense Used For?

Ancient practices have always had some intense values. We have always seen how natural substances, remedies, and spices can improve our mental and physical health.

Incense has shown various positive effects. Whether you want to kick out some negative energy from your home or put your mind on relaxing, you can always benefit from burning incense.

Here are some of the most notable benefits of burning incense:

1. Clears Negative Energy from House

In ancient Greece, Babylon, India, China, Japan, and Rome, people believed that a strong fragrance could cleanse an area of negative energies. We still practice the same in many religions. In temples, churches, and homes, we can see people burning incense cones during prayers. It fills the room with positive energy by keeping negativity afar.

2. Lightens up the mood

Our olfactory nerves sense a smell and send the scent molecules to our brain. In the brain, it impacts our amygdala, which is the "emotional center." The main job of the amygdala is "to regulate emotions, such as fear and aggression." When a pleasant and calming scent impacts the emotional center of our brain, it triggers intense emotions that can lighten up your mood.

3. Relaxation & Meditation

Meditation requires your mind to relax. Incense helps you focus on a single emotion at a time by impacting your amygdala. Thus, it enables you to relax and focus.

4. Spirituality

From ancient times, incense has always been linked to spirituality. It is believed to please the spiritual powers bring positive energies while banishing the negativity. A good scent helps you calm your find and focus on your inner soul.

Thus, while meditating, you can always burn incense and give yourself a peaceful and serene place to focus.

5. Stress Reduction & Help With Sleep

Incense helps reduce stress by lighting up your mood. For example, Jasmine is one of the most noted relaxing incense that induces positivity.

Peppermint is also a special incense to treat anxiety disorders. Lemongrass is another mood stimulator which brings you a holistic happy feel. On the other hand, people use Lavender, Sandalwood for better sleep.

6. Improves The Aura Of Your Interiors

A lot of people use incense to make their homes smell good. It packs all other benefits. In the 12th century, Chinese homes were designed that felicitated incense burning. Many homes still follow the same ritual nowadays instead of using chemical-based products.

The most notable benefit of using incense is that it is natural and plant-based material, which is good for the environment as well.

What Are You Waiting For? Get Your Incense Burner Today And Hop On The Aromatherapy Bandwagon

What makes burning incense so great is its natural scent. It brings peace, calmness, and serenity to your life. Anyone that enters your home would be filled with joy and happiness. In fact, various incense can open the floodgates to different happy memories.

That way, your home can become a bridge between the real world and the long-lost happiness in someone's life. We hope that this post helped you know everything about incense and its uses.