How To Use Natural Incense

Incense has been used for thousands of years to cleanse negative energy and create a peaceful atmosphere.

It’s a great way to add fragrance and ambiance to your home or office.

You’ll never want to go back to scented candles again once you experience the beauty that comes with using natural incense.

It’s often used in temples, churches, and anywhere else that enjoys using nature’s aromatics to cleanse the air and set a relaxing mood.

There are several ways to use incense. 

Portable sticks and cones are enjoyed by lighting them with matches or a lighter and using a fire-proof ash-catcher.

Loose resin incense can be burned over a charcoal or on a trail, or it can be gently heated in an electric burner to release its aroma without burning. 

A tea-light candle-based essential diffuser can also gently heat incense instead of burning it.

burning an incense stick at home

What are the benefits of burning incense?

The many benefits of burning incense include purifying the air, creating a relaxing atmosphere, and even helping with meditation.

It’s good for creating a specific mood in an area, such as stimulating creativity or promoting relaxation.

Burning incense is great for meditation since it helps to keep your mind focused on something other than thoughts or outside distractions.

What is the purpose of burning incense?

The main purpose of incense is to create an aromatic atmosphere that everyone can enjoy.

Here are some additional reasons to use natural incense:

  • adds fragrance & ambiance to a space
  • it purifies the air
  • reduces anxiety and stress
  • helps people sleep better
  • provides a more peaceful environment for meditation, yoga, or prayer
  • repels insects
  • keeps your home smelling fresh and clean
    Above are just some of the benefits of burning incense.

What do you use it for?

See our recipes section to use incense based on ingredients’ emotional attributes, plus associations with the seasons, elements, astrological, healing, and even magical properties.

woman meditating with incense

How to burn incense sticks

You can light your incense by simply holding a flame (such as a lighter) over the top of the tip until it ignites with a flame.

Once you have lit your incense, let it burn for a few seconds and then blow out the flame.

Then, set the stick to smolder by placing it in an incense burner, bowl, boat, or ash-catcher.

See our section on how to burn incense sticks, cones, or molds, plus our article on how to make them.

How to burn resin incense (loose incense)

You can heat or burn loose resin incense in various ways: using charcoal, an incense stove, on an incense trail, or using a mica plate over charcoal buried in ash a la Japanese Kodo style.

See step-by-step directions for each of these styles on our page, “how to burn loose resin incense.”

incense charcoal - burner - ingredients

Is incense really bad for you?

Is the use of incense a cultural tradition or a deadly hazard?

The burning of herbs, woods, etc., dates back to time immemorial, though, until recent years, little was known about the harmful effects of smoke on human beings.

It is believed that the burning of incense leads to the formation of cancer-causing chemicals and can lead to lung and heart problems, including asthma, bronchitis, etc.

Therefore from scientific grounds, it can be said that incense sticks can be bad for human health as they may cause disease. 

Now, of course, your exposure to these chemicals would depend on how much heat and smoke was produced in relation to how big the space was, if the space was ventilated, if you used natural or synthetic incense, and other factors.

To safely use incense, it’s recommended to use only incense made from 100% natural ingredients, in a well-ventilated space, with as little heat as necessary, as little smoke as possible, and do not directly inhale any smoke. Be mindful of its heat and smoke.

We actually prefer “heating” our incense instead of actually burning it. Gently heating incense allows for the slow smoke-less release of all its aromas.

This is preferred over sticks, cones, charcoal, or trails that destroy many aromatic molecules with too much heat and create smoke.

Mind you that sometimes you want to create a lot of smoke, especially when trying to cleanse a space of negative energies.

In most cases, however, incense is often best enjoyed with as little heat and smoke as possible.

Electric or candle-based incense burners and essential oil diffusers can often make excellent “incense stoves” to gently heat incense without burning it.

See our section on Incense Stoves for more on heating instead of burning your incense.

Incense Learning Center

Incense & Essential Oils Products

Aromatic gums-resins-woods-herbs-spices
Raw Aromatics

from Mountain Rose Herbs

Japanese incense sticks
Japense Incense

Baiedo, Shoyeido, and Others

essential oils for sale
Organic Essential Oils

from Amrita Aromatherapy

Learn aromatherapy from Jenn Scents Aromaversity
Learn Aromatherapy

from JennScents Aromaversity

Mark has spent over two decades immersed in the world of natural aromatics. His first experience of Agarwood incense at a Zen center meditation class changed his life forever. He imported and traded aromatics for several years before selling that business. He now simply enjoys enriching his life with nature's aromatics and freely sharing what he knows so others may get to enjoy them also.
Mark Ambrose
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