Relax and Recharge: Incense

One of my favorite ways to bring light scents into my home when I am trying to relax is by using incense. There are a myriad of scents available and they are sod almost everywhere. What some people don’t know is that there are also different types of incense.


Before continuing, I want to note that incense burning is a traditional and common practice in many families and in most temples. The religious and meditative benefits are widely accepted, as is the belief that the pleasant aroma of incense improves mood and relieves stress.

However, during the burning process of all types of incense, particle matter is released into the air. This can be breathed in and trapped in the lungs, and is known to cause an inflammatory reaction. Not much research has been done on incense as a source of pollution, although it has been linked to different types of ill health effects. If you’re burning incense, make sure you get high-quality sticks or other types of incense. Also, consider the benefits of essential oils as an alternative to the smoke of incense.


Types of Incense

The most well known form of incense (at least around my area) are the stick incense. They come in the widest variety of scents, and also offer the most versatile use.

My dad growing up would “plant” the burning sticks in his indoor potted plants so that the ashes fell on the soil. He would also stick them in candles and also ash trays, as pictured below.

Using the sticks are super simple. Use a match or a lighter to ignite the thicker part of the stick, then blow out once the tip turns bright red. Various fragrances and lengths are available for scenting a large room or for religious use.

Burning times are proportional to stick lengths. It is possible to adjust the burning time of an incense stick by cutting it. Because stick incense has uniform thickness, it fragrance is released evenly and gradually.

To read more about the different ways the stick incense are made, visit here.

I was introduced to cone incense in high school. I struggled to find as many scent options as the sticks, however. It may be a lot easier now with the internet (I’m dating myself here!) but I am still partial to being able to smell what I’m buying before purchasing.

Unlike stick incense, fragrance from incense cones grows stronger as the lit portion descends into the wider part of the cone. This incense type is suitable for scenting a room in a short time. Simply light the tip of the cone, wait for it to turn bright red, and blow out the flame.

Note: You will need to set them on a dish or something heat resistant, as they will continue to burn right down to the surface they are sitting on.

Loose incense is the oldest form of incense, originating with the tossing of aromatic plants and woods in to smoldering campfire embers in order to release fragrant smoke in to the air.  Loose incense is not “self-burning” like stick incense, meaning that you must continuously supply heat or it will stop burning.

These days, since we rarely sit around a campfire, the easiest way to burn loose incense is with charcoal tablets.  Most people use round charcoal tablets that have an impression in the center for the loose incense.  This type of charcoal is usually full of a substance called saltpeter, which makes the charcoal burn very easily.  However, it also makes the charcoal burn too hot, and puts out a very odd smell.

However, burning incense on charcoal is a very valuable way of testing new aromatics and blends when making incense and loose incense is the easiest form to make yourself.  One way of solving the saltpeter problem is to use Japanese charcoal made from bamboo.  This is a little harder to light, but has no strange scent associated with it.

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Loose incense is the most high maintenance form of incense.  Just to burn it, you will need charcoal, a censer, ash or sand to put the charcoal on , and the incense.  It is not nearly as portable as other forms on incense.  It also requires more quantity control – if you use too much, you can end up with huge amounts of smoke very quickly. It is also the most customizable where scent is concerned, as you can easily mix various types together. You control how much of each type you add.


Best Scents To Use

StressMeditationSleepAnxiety
Sandalwood
Nag Champa
Patchouli
Amber
Frankincense
Jasmine
Lavender
Lemongrass
Frankincense
Sandalwood
Nag Champa

Aloeswood
Opium
Vanilla
Spikenard
Frankincense
Myrrh
Sandalwood
Patchouli
Amber
Coffee
Lavender
Vanilla
Frankincense
Sandalwood
Jasmine
Patchouli
Rose
Vanilla
Amber
Lemongrass
CleansingRelaxationPositivityHeadaches
Sage
Coffee
Musk
Myrrh
Lemongrass
Cedar
Frankincense
Black Cherry
Frankincense
Sandalwood
Coconut
Jasmine
Vanilla
Chamomile
Patchouli
Cedar
Sage
Musk
Rose
Sandalwood
Bergamot
Coffee
Jasmine
Borneol
Spikenard
Star Anise
Bergamot
Rosemary

Notes:

  • You can also use the citronella scent to help repel bugs this summer!
  • Berry bushes in fruit have an age-old association with the Goddess. Any red berry incense may be used in fertility and love-producing magick. (Cherry, too.)

Related Posts


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  1. Pingback: What Your Period Is Telling You About Your Health – Part 1 – Whole Body Fertility

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