If you’ve ever attended a meditation class or entered an aromatherapy store, chances are you've been exposed to incense. Incense has been used for thousands of years in religious ceremonies and rituals, with the first usage dating back to the fourth century (although it was reportedly used in Ancient India and Egypt long before that).

While you can burn incense for its relaxing scent or use it as a natural air freshener, there are different types of incense depending on your needs. While this is great for variety, it can make shopping for the perfect incense can feel quite daunting. 

Read on as we explore your incense options so you can find which one is right for your needs!

What Is Incense?

Incense is a material that releases a pleasant aroma when burned. It can be made from various ingredients, including wood and resins. The term incense comes from the Latin incendere, which means "to burn."

Incense has been used for thousands of years in religious ceremonies. It is still popular today, used to help create an ambiance during yoga or relaxation sessions or to bring an element of nature indoors through scent. 

Some of the general benefits of burning incense include the following:

  • Reduce stress and anxiety
  • Prevent depression
  • Promote more positive thoughts and feelings

Throughout history, it has also been used as an insect repellent or even as an offering thought to please a particular deity. Today, they offer a great way to improve the smell of your home or add a thoughtful, relaxing touch to a workspace.

Types of Incense

Many people see incense sticks and automatically think only one type of incense is available. However, whether you prefer something spicy, woodsy, or sweet, you can choose from two main types of incense.

Direct Burning

Direct burning incense is a great option for those seeking an uplifting aroma in the home. When lit, it slowly smolders and emits a beautiful scent that can bring about instant relaxation and inner peace.

Indirect Burning

Indirect burning incense requires extra preparation and materials compared to direct burning, such as an incense burner, charcoal, a small dish, and sand or pebbles. But the effort is totally worth it once you’re able to enjoy the soothing aroma.

Incense Options

Aside from choosing between direct or indirect burning incense, you have other options. In most cases, incense comes in one of four forms. They all burn slightly differently, so choosing the best one for your home or workspace is key.

Incense Sticks

Used by many different religions and cultures, incense sticks are made from bamboo and infused with essential oils and sawdust or charcoal dust. You’ll see them a lot in prayer and spiritual ceremonies, but they’re also a great way to enhance the ambiance of any space.

Spiral Incense

This type of incense consists of sticks that have been wound into a tightly twisted helix shape and then lit up, so it releases its scent as it burns downwards. This spiral design increases the heat as the smoke reaches all sides of the stick, releasing more of its aroma at once.

Incense Cones

Incense cones are super simple to use. All you have to do is light the tip of the cone, blow out the flame after a few seconds, and place it somewhere safe. No burning apparatus is needed, which saves you space and money.

Backflow Incense

Backflow incense offers a unique variation of the typical cone, where a hole is made through the bottom and center, allowing the beautiful incense plume to flow toward you. 

It looks stunning, but backflow incense can also be used as a more environmentally friendly alternative to regular cones. They emit less smoke than other types of incense overall. This makes them ideal if you want something that isn’t overpowering.

Using Incense: Which Type Is Best?

When selecting your best type of incense, it is best to consider the purpose of the product. If you want to fill a room with pleasant aromas, an incense stick might be best for the job. 

However, a spiral incense could be preferable if you want the scent to linger long. Spiral incense provides more smoke and covers more surface area than incense sticks, meaning its scent lasts longer in a room or space. 

Backflow incense is popular for those looking for an aromatic, smoky presence in their home or room. 

Its key difference from other kinds of incense is its backflow design. It is ideal for anyone who wants billowing smoke that cascades over the backflowing incense to create a stunning visual effect. It's perfect for setting up a romantic atmosphere, for example.

The best way to know what works best for you is to experiment with different types of incense and find the aroma that best suits your needs or preferences.

Understanding Incense Scents

Once you’ve chosen the best type of incense, how do you settle on a scent? For the best relaxation results, scents like lavender, rosemary, and patchouli are best, as they help calm nerves and evoke a sense of peace. 

Aromas such as sage, peppermint, and frankincense will energize the atmosphere and create an atmosphere that encourages productivity or spirituality. If you want something in between, go for a blend of citrus and vanilla, which simultaneously gives off calming but uplifting energy.

Alternatives to Incense

With several types of incense, don't forget to consider a similar alternative: palo santo incense sticks. Not only does palo santo carry a calming and cleansing energy, but it also can help to reduce stress and anxiety. These uplifting qualities make palo santo incense sticks particularly beneficial for those seeking more life balance and mental clarity.

To enjoy palo santo’s wonderful smell and benefits, all you have to do is light one of the burnable sticks and let the calming aroma and energy fill your room or space! Click here to explore our palo santo sticks and other products now.

February 23, 2023 — Bursera Natural Products Ltd.