Types of Incense

Types of Incense

The right scent can help set the mood in a room and evoke emotions and memories. From the best ingredients to consider, the difference between cones and sticks, and more, here’s what you need to know about types of incense.

A stick incense’s base consists of a fuel and oxidizer mixture (such as charcoal powder and wood powder) and fragrant material. Fragrance materials are derived from herb, flower, and resin sources.

Direct Burning Incense

The most common type of incense is the stick, which is also referred to as combustible or direct burning incense. It consists of a bamboo core to which incense powders, sawdust, or charcoal dust are mixed and then pressed into a stick shape. When burned, it releases a gentle and steady fragrance that can help you to relax or focus.

Stick incense can be infused with various aromatic ingredients to create different fragrances. Commonly used ingredients include woods such as cedar and juniper, resins like myrrh and frankincense, essential oils like sandalwood and sage, spices such as cinnamon and clove, and herbs including thyme and rosemary. These ingredients are often blended with additives such as clays, resinous clays, or binders and waxes.

Typically, these are used with a special incense burner that allows the smoke to flow through the center of the piece. This is called a backflow burner and can be purchased online or at most home goods stores that sell incense. These types of burners are great for allowing the incense to diffuse into the room in a constant flow without causing the flame to go out or creating too much smoke, which can interfere with the aromatherapy experience.

These incenses are similar to smudge sticks in that they are made of fragrant, dried plant material and are burned to release the aromas. Traditionally, these are used to repel mosquitoes or other irritating insects and have been known to aid in concentration and meditation. Some examples include frankincense, which can help you to breathe easier, myrrh which is a natural antiseptic and can relieve congestion, and dragon’s blood, which is harvested from multiple palm plant species and has a warm and sweet scent.

Unlike direct burning incense, indirect burning incense does not contain a combustible material but rather requires an outside heat source to ignite the organic materials and release their fragrance. These materials are either placed next to a smoldering coal or heated on an incense burner, such as a dubar.

Other types of incense are kneaded or rolled into pastes and then shaped into a form to be burned. This process is used for many types of incense such as arabic incense known as bukhoor or bakhoor and Japanese neriko and awasek incenses.

Incense powders are mixed with a binder and then formed into pastilles to be burned. These can be shaped into a cone, stick, or ball depending on the incense and the intended use. These can be scented with essential oils or non-fragranced and are typically used in religious ceremonies and rituals to cleanse or protect the space being used for prayer, meditation, or rituals.

Alternatively, these powders can be poured onto a smoldering charcoal to make a potpourri. The scents will slowly release as the coal burns through the incense, which can be used to create an ambiance or set the mood for a specific activity such as relaxation or meditation. This method can be more cost effective than purchasing individual sachets of incense or larger rolls of incense.