Natural herbs and resins have been used as incense since ancient times for religious offerings, health, purification, and meditation.
Artisans process plant materials into incense by grinding them up with a binder into a paste and either rolling it into sticks for stick incense or shaping it into a cone for direct-burning incense.
What is it?
Incense is an aromatic substance that creates a fragrant smoke when burned. It has been used in religious and spiritual rituals for ages, and it is often part of meditation and relaxation practice. It can also be used to enhance mood and reduce stress.
Incense is made from natural ingredients, such as tree resins, herbs, and spices. The most common type of incense is a stick or cone that can be lit and blown out to produce thick clouds of fragrant smoke. It can also be a powder that is sprinkled on top of burning charcoal in a censer or thurible.
Almost every culture in the world has employed incense for ritual, healing, and purification. It is believed that the perfumed smoke rises to the heavens and carries prayers to the gods. The scent has been shown to improve mood, counteract unpleasant odors, and relax the body. It is also thought to increase mental performance and concentration.
How do I burn it?
For centuries people have burned incense to purify the air, relax and meditate. They also used it for spiritual and religious ceremonies. Archeological findings and recipes reveal that incense burning has been a common ritual for thousands of years across many cultures and countries.
Stick incense is the easiest to burn. They are made of bamboo and have aromatic substances adhered to the end. You light the tip with a flame (like a lighter) and blow it out when it glows red. Then place it in a proper incense holder, such as a censer.
Loose incense requires a little more attention than sticks and cones. You need to have a burner that is designed for incense, as well as a heat-proof container that will hold the charcoal disk for incense burning. Put a bit of salt, sand, or grain in the burner to help absorb some of the heat and place the charcoal disc inside.
What are the types of incense?
There are many different kinds of incense available. Some are made with fragrant woods or aromatic herbs and can scent large spaces. Others are more portable and come in cone-shaped form for easy use.
Some are made from oily resinous materials like myrrh and frankincense and balanced with “dry” materials such as sage, charcoal dust or bark powders. This type of incense is often hand-dipped by sidewalk or flea market vendors and can vary greatly in style and quality.
Incense should only be burned in a designated holder to prevent fire hazards and allow for proper ventilation. Chronic exposure to smoke can cause respiratory ailments including asthma and bronchitis. To reduce risks, choose incense with ethical sourcing practices and avoid burning too much at a time to prevent irritants like smoke from lingering in the air. Also, be sure to keep a water or fire extinguisher nearby in case of emergency.
Where can I buy incense?
The use of incense has been used throughout history for a variety of reasons, including religious ceremonies, aromatherapy, and meditation. Today, incense is still used for its aesthetic value and to create a relaxing environment.
Incense can be made in a number of forms, including sticks and cones. Sticks are usually a thin bamboo stick that has been coated in a mixture of resin and herbs. When lit, they release small particles of inhalable smoke that carry the scent into the air.
Cone and core incense is made by molding a wet binder powder, usually a natural plant-based binding material such as makko (made from the bark of the tabu-no-ki tree, Machilus thunbergii), with a dry fragrance ingredient or combination of ingredients. The resulting paste is then formed around a wooden or bamboo-core stick to create incense sticks, cones, and other shapes that are then dried before being ready for use. The use of incense has been used for centuries as a way to purify the air and reduce stress levels. The odors produced by the burning of incense can also help cover up unpleasant odors and deter insects.