Everything You Need to Know About Incense
4 min

Everything You Need To Know About Incense

4 min

Not only boasting an array of fragrances, incense has long been harnessed for its religious and therapeutic applications, making it much more versatile than it first appears. So, if you've ever wanted to know all there is about about incense, you're in the right place. Read on to find out more.

Boasting a wide range of aromatic scents, incense comes in many different forms. From sticks to resins and cones, the first use of incense dates back as far as 6000 BC. However, there are many other uses for incense, such as religious rituals, aromatherapy and meditation, ensuring the fragrant smoke released still has a place in the modern world. In this article, we delve into all you need to know about incense, its uses, the various types available, and how you can utilise it too!

What is incense?

What Is Incense

All incense starts with various spices, oils and other aromatic plant-based matter, which are then combined with combustible binding materials. When burnt, the fragrant scent is released and fills the room. In fact, the word incense is derived from the Latin word "incendere", meaning "to burn". And, despite the simple nature of incense, it's steeped in a rich history that spans hundreds of different settings, environments and circumstances.

History of incense

With uses dating back to 6000 BC, incense originates from ancient Egypt and Greece before spreading to India and Southern Asia in 3300 BC. Incense was typically utilised in many religious ceremonies and even to ward off evil spirits or demons.

However, many people have since moved past folklore and superstition, enjoying incense simply for the wide range of aromas they bring. Whether this is to add fragrance to a room or to unwind and meditate, there are dozens of applications. So rest assured, there's still very much a place for aromatic incense, no matter its form.

Types of incense

Types Of Incense

When we think of incense, we typically picture burning sticks sitting in a holder, filling the room with spicy aromas. However, there are many other forms of incense, each with its unique benefits. So, depending on your preference or setup, you're guaranteed to find a type of incense to suit your needs.

Incense sticks

Incense Sticks

As arguably the most common form, incense sticks are widely available and are a cost-effective way to add some natural fragrance to your life. Simply pair with a suitable incense holder and enjoy pleasant aromas no matter where you are. Incense sticks are easy enough to take on the move but also make for a great option to set up around the home.

Typically, these sticks burn for around 50 to 90 minutes. Just light the tip, then blow it out to kickstart the scented smoke. It will extinguish itself once it's finished burning, leaving the ash residue in the holder. With so many different varieties, you can enjoy a bevvy of captivating scents.

Incense cones

Incense Cones

Another popular type of incense is cones. Like sticks, cones are usually wooden sticks with aromatic materials tightly wrapped around them in a conical shape. These cones have a small footprint and benefit from not requiring a special holder. They are ready to use right out of the pack and are perfect for placing in heat-proof trays and dishes.

Due to their thicker structure, they burn for longer compared to sticks. However, the experience is very much the same. The range of fragrances and scents is often the same as the sticks, but with the ability to burn for much longer, incense cones are ideal for more extended periods of meditation or relaxation.

Incense resin

Incense Resin

A little different from the other incense we've mentioned so far, incense resin is made from natural substances such as copal, myrrh and frankincense. These substances are extracted from gum trees and, while they were made famous during ancient religious ceremonies, are still very much a popular choice amongst incense enthusiasts today.

However, they work a little differently compared to sticks and cones. The use of charcoal is required to make the most of incense resin. Simply light a piece of charcoal and allow it to burn before placing resin on top of it. The charcoal provides a long burn, and the expired resin can be replaced for an aromatic boost to longer sessions.

Uses of incense

As we've mentioned, incense's main draw is its fragrant qualities, but there are many different applications. So whether you opt for cones, sticks or resin, here are some of the primary uses of incense.

Meditation and relaxation

Meditation And Relaxation

For thousands of years, the practice of meditation has been to help calm the mind, body and soul. An integral part of these rituals is setting the perfect atmosphere. This can be achieved by not only changing your surroundings (such as meditating in a quiet place) but also the aromas. Incense can provide a soothing and calming aroma, while the burn time acts as a rudimentary timer for your meditation session. Many people also use incense during yoga, so as soon as the incense burns out, the session is over.

Spiritual and religious

Spiritual And Religious

Given their lengthy and diverse history, it should come as no surprise that incense became synonymous with religious and spiritual ceremonies. It's thought that incense could be used to cleanse an environment and purify the surroundings spiritually. Others believe that the smoke from the burning incense carried prayers and offerings to the gods and was even called the "essence of life".

However, as with all religions, there are many differing factors to the types of incense used. In fact, many cultures use certain incense and have particular scents and blends significant to their heritage. Incense is still used in religious and spiritual ceremonies and rituals to this day.



As arguably one of the most common modern uses of incense, aromatherapy carries plenty of potential benefits for users. From increasing focus to reducing tension and soothing the body, aromatherapy has long been utilised in many forms, partly due to its simplicity, but mainly because of its versatility.

It's thought that sandalwood has the potential to increase concentration and focus, whereas a scent like frankincense can soothe and may even have anti-inflammatory properties. So whether studying or relaxing, incense could provide the well-being boost you're looking for.

Cleansing and purification

Cleansing and purification can take on many different meanings. On the one hand, you have a more "bacterial cleansing" where the aromas and burning of incense can improve the surroundings and cleanse the air of any unwanted scents. Or, if you're more spiritually inclined, the cleansing and purification of negative energy and emotions.

Many believe that the aromas of incense have the power to ward off bad vibes and can cleanse negative emotions such as anger and depression. While the efficacy is hotly disputed, there's no denying the allure of incense.

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7 Reasons To Use Incense

Decor and ambiance

If you just want a pleasant fragrance in your home or want to adorn a shelf or table with various incense products, you can do that, too. There's no reason to get caught up in incense's religious, spiritual or therapeutic properties; they can simply be an eye-catching and aromatic ornament. So, why not complement your home with fragrant incense? Who knows, you might experience some of the other benefits listed above along the way.

Safety considerations

Of course, fire will undoubtedly be involved when it comes to using incense. Be sure to take the proper precautions and ensure that any burning incense is kept well away from flammable materials. Incense and the ash produced are fire hazards and should never be left unattended. Always use an appropriate incense holder; don't try to cut corners here; you'll want to ensure a safe and sturdy setup before lighting.

Lastly, use incense in a well-ventilated environment and be sure not to inhale the smoke directly from it. If you have any health concerns regarding the use of incense, be sure to consult a medical professional.

Enjoy scent-sational incense today

Enjoy Scent-Sational Incense Today

Whether you're leaning towards the spiritual side or simply just wanting to enjoy the aromas, there's no denying the versatility of using incense. Regardless of your chosen type, the amount of available scents is simply staggering. So, if you've been looking for a way to enjoy great fragrances, an incense setup could very well do the trick. Fortunately, you don't have to look far, as Zamnesia stocks a wide variety of incense and related products, so you can embrace this centuries-old practice.

Adam Parsons
Adam Parsons
Professional cannabis journalist, copywriter, and author Adam Parsons is a long-time staff member of Zamnesia. Tasked with covering a wide range of topics from CBD to psychedelics and everything in between, Adam creates blog posts, guides, and explores an ever-growing range of products.
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