Incense is used for many reasons in everyday life. It can calm and relax the mind during meditation, or it can create a pleasant aroma for entertaining guests.
When using incense, practice proper fire safety. Keep the wooden end in a holder and make sure it’s on a heat-resistant surface out of reach of curtains, kids, or pets.
Many people use incense for its spiritual and religious properties. Burning incense can create a calming, positive mood and is often used during meditation or yoga sessions.
Incense experts suggest looking for an incense with natural ingredients. Look for natural resins such as frankincense, myrrh and opoponax, or organic herbs such as sage and palo santo, as these can be mixed with a non-combustible powder such as natural makko powder to form the base of the incense.
A great way to determine if an incense is made with natural materials is to check the packet label. Look for ‘natural’ and ‘organic’ to guarantee that the incense contains only natural ingredients.
Inhaling incense smoke for extended periods of time can be damaging to your health. Look for incense sticks that burn slowly, releasing their scent without generating a lot of smoke.
Stick incense generally consists of an aromatic biotic material that is wrapped in a binder and made into sticks for easy burning. This biotic material can be anything from pure wood to resins such as Oudh.
The incense sticks are usually dipped into scented oils and a resin to form a final product. Some of these oils are natural while others are synthetic. Avoid the synthetics as they are harmful for your health. Look for organics and natural oils to help with ailments such as headaches and depression. They can also boost serotonin to improve appetite and digestive systems. Other benefits include aphrodisiac properties and antibacterial qualities.
Inhaling too much smoke from burning incense can cause respiratory issues, so it is important to choose a low-smoke incense. If possible, look for natural incense sticks that are undipped in potent fragrance oils.
Pumphrey says choosing a scent for meditation is completely personal and depends on what resonates with you. “For me, lavender and vetiver help to calm my mind during meditation,” she says. “I also like the smell of sage and peppermint, which I find to be very refreshing for my home.”
A new addition to the line is Incense Pure, a woody-amber fragrance that features rich, earthy frankincense with labdanum and benzoin that lingers over sandalwood, ambergris, and musk. “This incense sticks evokes the exoticism of wood and resin,” she notes. “It’s a great choice for meditation.” A scented censer or incense holder is required to properly burn these incense sticks. The shaped censers are made of ceramic and come in various shapes and sizes, some with small holes at the top for inserting the sticks.
While you can find a wide variety of incense products on the market, many contain harmful man-made chemicals that are toxic to your health and can contribute to allergies and asthma. Look for incense that says “natural” as a way to ensure it is made from pure plant ingredients that are free of artificial fragrances and other chemicals.
Aside from the uplifting scents, incense is also used for its therapeutic properties such as stress and anxiety relief, relaxation and meditative practices. Different herbs, barks and resins such as frankincense, myrrh and sandalwood each have their own benefits.
When selecting incense, choose the type that resonates with you and supports your lifestyle goals. For example, if you are looking for stress and anxiety relief, try a woody-scented incense such as palo santo. You can also consider a smudging ritual which involves burning dried sage and is commonly associated with Native American culture.