The A to Z of Incense: discovering its historical past, varieties, and makes use of


From the daybreak of occasions, incense has all the time been broadly used all through the world because it represented a vital aspect for spiritual rituals and non secular practices on the whole. 

However spiritualism apart, the rationale why incense continues to be now an enormous factor is that apparently it additionally has nice useful results: its scent can certainly considerably change the air and due to this fact the vitality of our surroundings and because of this, we would need to be further cautious when looking for the correct one for our functions. 

As a consequence, these days the entire trade of incense is repeatedly thriving and an enormous number of completely different fragrances and shapes are being explored by an ever-growing variety of manufacturers. On this article, we’ll dive deep into its historical past and we’ll discover all about the principle kinds of incense, in addition to its most used components in order to shed extra mild on this timeless, fascinating, custom. 

Fast historic recap

The follow of burning incense is all the time been an integral a part of many spiritual rituals for the reason that distant occasions of historic Egypt. This custom has then unfold by means of many international locations each in Asia and the Roman Empire. And curiously sufficient, the phrase “incense” itself derives from the Latin time period “incendere” which accurately means “to burn”.

Via the years although, incense has then prolonged to different functions and regularly grew to become much more commercialized due to the arrival of the science behind smells, the so-called “aromatherapy”. With that, now we have progressively began to achieve a greater understanding of the varied results that particular scents can set off on each our physique and thoughts.

What’s the components checklist?

You would possibly agree with me after I say that every time the scent of incense reaches our nostrils, its fascinating perfume often recollects the concept of one thing considerably non secular, historic, and sacred. And that’s as a result of the fragrant components used for making incense are more often than not the identical as people who had been initially used. 

Though there’s an enormous number of completely different incense, every stick is often made utilizing plant-based components which function a mix of resins, seeds, roots, and flowers. 

So let’s take a more in-depth have a look at essentially the most used ones:

• cinnamon
• frankincense
• musk
• myrrh

These components are then combined with natural flamable materials, like charcoal or wooden powders, which naturally permit the incense to burn and produce smoke. 

Forms of Incense

Once we take into consideration incense, the picture that often involves thoughts is that of a stick that emanates an alluring, grey-ish smoke. However in actuality, incense will be realized in many alternative methods and it may possibly due to this fact have distinct shapes. 

Moreover, the best way you burn incense additionally relies on what sort you utilize. As a common rule, there are two kinds of incense:

  • Direct Burning Incense, which is instantly Ignited
  • Oblique Burning Incense requires an exterior supply of warmth to be ignited along with a number of different instruments.

However let’s now discover these two varieties intimately…

Direct burning incense 

That is by far the commonest one: as we mentioned, the sort of incense will be instantly ignited, and as quickly because the flame is extinguished it generates a lightweight smoke, diffusing a nice perfume into the air. Every stick has a particular burning time that will fluctuate based on its kind and components. As a common rule, a stick of incense ought to often final between 50 and 90 minutes.

Furthermore, some examples of direct burning incense embrace: 

  • Sticks
  • Coil incense
  • Incense cones
  • Powders


Incense stick. Aromatherapy whit petals

Incense sticks are by far the most well-liked type of incense. They’re often product of a bamboo core to which is then added a mixture of important oils, sawdust, or charcoal mud. As you possibly can think about, the burning time of the incense stick primarily relies on the size of the stick.  Whereas the stick-type incense burns evenly, it diffuses a gentle and fixed perfume that presents us with a second of pure leisure.

Coil Incense

This kind of incense is often known as incense spirals and regardless of not being as widespread because the earlier one however it has a incredible perk: it has a protracted burning time. However identical to for the incense sticks, the burning time of coil incense might fluctuate relying on its dimension, or higher mentioned its diameter. Coil Incenses had been orginally hung in entrance of the homes and temples to cleanse the encircling space from adverse energies. 

Additionally, they’re made solely from incense materials and so they often include holders to carry the coil and its ash. Small tip: for the reason that coil incense will diffuse a constant, intense smoke, it’s extra acceptable for scenting a bigger space or an outside house

Incense Cones

Cone incenses are typically constructed from a mix of important oils and powders and it’s nonetheless typically used to counterpoint the scent of the air whereas training yoga or meditation. If you happen to resolve to go for the sort of incense, guarantee your room will not be too small and that you just preserve a window barely ajar. Additionally understand that, in contrast to incense sticks, incense cones aren’t as straightforward to burn, and also you would possibly must comply with some steps as a way to use them correctly.

  1. Firstly, when shopping for incense cones, guarantee that they arrive with a particular incense burner that may maintain the ash whereas it burns.
  2. Fill the underside of the burner with sand, in order to make sure the cone will burn evenly
  3. Strive to not preserve the burner on an inflammable floor or round inflammable sources.
  4. As soon as the cone is regular on its burner, start to burn the tip of the cone: it is best to have the ability to see a spiral of smoke rising from the cone.

Oblique burning incense

All these incense are much less widespread than these we’ve simply revised because it requires an exterior supply of warmth and a bit extra time for the preparation. All it takes is incense, an incense burner (which often is a chunk of charcoal) a small plate that serves as a base for the charcoal and the incense, and a few sand that’s used to unfold the warmth out evenly. 

The principle kinds of burning incense are

  • Frankincense
  • Myrrh 
  • Powdered incense
  • Kneaded Incense


Frankincense is often known as the “king of oils” and is derived from the sap of the Boswellia bushes, which generally develop within the dry areas of India and Africa. Once we mild up frankincense we will really feel a delicate, woody nearly spicy scent which apparently has unbelievable useful results on our physique and thoughts: it may possibly assist scale back arthritis, bronchial asthma and it may possibly additionally enhance up the digesting course of.

And curiously sufficient, some current research declare that it might even assist us forestall sure kinds of most cancers. Because of this, it has all the time been broadly utilized in millenary Indian drugs, the Ayurveda. 


Similar to Frankincense, Myrrh can be extracted from a tree, which is on this case, the Commiphora myrrha, a local tree unfold by means of northeastern Africa and southwest Asia.

Myrrh has lengthy been used each in conventional Chinese language drugs in addition to Ayurvedic drugs as a result of it’s mentioned to: kill dangerous micro organism, it might assist pores and skin and oral well being.

Powdered incense

Because the title suggests, this sort of incense is product of fragrant crops, woods, and resins that are then combined and floor right into a high-quality powder. That is maybe one of the crucial sophisticated technique to burn incense and for finest outcomes, I’d encourage you to comply with every of those 5 steps fairly completely: 

  1. This kind of incense is often burned on a chunk of charcoal which naturally generates warmth, because of this, the sort of incense ought to all the time include a particular holder and a small disk.
  2. Keep in mind by no means to carry the charcoal along with your arms however use tongs as an alternative. 
  3. Burn the aspect of the disk till the charcoal is evenly ignited. 
  4. Place it within the incense holder
  5. Sprinkle some powdered incense on prime of the charcoal. Burn till the powder is totally gone, then chances are you’ll add some extra powder for a longer-lasting scent.

Kneaded Incense

Historically used for the Japanese Tea Ceremony, this type of incense is combined, kneaded, and left to mature in particular jars for 3 to 5 years. Its scent is nice, nearly creamy and it’s heated utilizing charcoal or with a wooden chip heater.

How to decide on the correct aroma?

A great way to decide on the correct incense for you is by merely following your nostril and ideally attempt to additionally contemplate the impact that its scent can have in your physique and thoughts. Keep in mind, it’s all the time finest to know what we need to obtain by means of their use earlier than shopping for, so my tip is to take a look at the proprieties of the fragrant oils of the incense you’re selecting.

Usually, fragrances comparable to mint and lemon have nice detoxifying properties however what some would possibly don’t but know is that they are often additionally a tremendous booster to your focus, which implies that they are often completely appropriate to your meditation session.

In any other case, in the event you’re in search of a scent that may recreate a calmer and extra laid-back ambiance it is best to go as an alternative for scents like Lavender, Chamomile, or Candy orange.

In the end, some incenses, that are made with scents like lemongrass or myrrh even have interior pure cleaning properties that may kill some micro organism within the air therefore purifying the air of our surroundings.

So on this article, we’ve taken a journey into the mystic world of incense, we’ve revised its historic roots, and found all about the principle kinds of incense accessible in the marketplace. 

As we’ve seen, every incense has a singular perfume and completely different makes use of so that you would possibly need to know what’s your objective earlier than shopping for.

Burning incense will not be merely a part of a millenary custom, however it’s certainly a incredible technique to enrich, cleaning the air round us, gifting us with light, mystic notes of pure delight.

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