Fall in love with incense! If you have just started using incense or are thinking about using it, you have found the perfect place to start! Incense has a long historical background and is utilized in diverse cultures. We would like to share with you some basic key points and tips for you to picture how incense might fit into your lifestyle.
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The name “incense” is derived from the Latin word “to burn.” The use of incense dates back to biblical times and is thought to have originated in Egypt, where aromatic trees were imported from Arabia to be used in religious ceremonies.
What is Incense made of?
Ingredients of incense vary depending on the types of incense and brand. Typical base ingredients for stick/cone/coil incense are tabu wood powder, fragrant/essential oils, resins, herbs, and tree barks.
Incense is known to have various benefits.
Spiritual benefits: Incense may help increase calmness and focus while reducing stress and anxiety. It can also aid with sleep and mood swings. Many people use incense for mindfulness, prayer, yoga and meditation practices to aid their focus, tranquility, and removal of negative energy. Depending on the occasion, incense can serve as a memory cue as smelling that certain fragrance can initiate such unconscious connections.
Other benefits: Incense can serve to purify the air and mask unpleasant odor in the kitchen and bathroom. It can also be used to illustrate a pleasant scent for relaxation, enjoyment, and gatherings. Certain types of scent can also help repel insects including mosquitoes. A creative way to use incense can be in the form of a timer. If you know how long a certain incense burns, you can do chores or do some reading for the duration of the incense burning. LEARN MORE
Types of Incense
This is the most popular type of incense. Sticks come in a variety of lengths for longer or shorter burning times. You place the incense stick in the hole of an incense holder that sits on a heat-resistant dish to hold ash or place it in a burner with enough ash for the stick to stand.
Burns quickly and strongly. It is also easier to use because the ash does not scatter. You place a cone incense in a burner or on top of ash to burn.
Better suited for large space or areas that have abundant air flow as it burns for a longer duration. You place the coil incense on top of ash or use a coil incense holder.
Widely used in China and India, bamboo incense was first used for religious and medical purposes. It is usually less fragile, gives off more smoke, and is longer in length than non-bamboo stick incense.
Fragrant powdery incense that typically features fragrances such as agarwood, sandalwood, clove, and cinnamon. Powder incense has been used to cleanse the spirit by placing it on the body before performing Buddhist rituals.
How long does it take for an incense stick to burn?
Burning times vary depending on the form of incense and brand. Please note that the burn times listed here are an approximate.
Japanese Stick Incenses:
- Short stick incense: 10 - 15 minutes
- Regular stick incense: 25 minutes
- Long stick incense: 45 - 55 minutes
- Bamboo stick incense: 25 minutes
- Cone incense incense: 10 minutes
- Coil incense incense: 120 minutes
What is Japanese Incense?
In general, traditional “Japanese incense” is not made from bamboo. It is usually made of wood powder, fragrant/essential oils, resins, herbs, and tree barks. It comes in different shapes including short/regular/long sticks, coil, cone, and powder. Not having bamboo in its ingredients makes Japanese incense give off less smoke with a clean scent, optimal for everyday use.
Japanese incense sticks are made by kneading ingredients which is then extruded and dried. They come in a wide range of fragrances including woody, floral, citrus, fruity, herbal, among others. They are used in both religious practices and at home for pleasure. For the stick and coil type, the incense can be broken into smaller pieces for a shorter burning time.
History of Japanese Incense:
The history of Japanese incense dates back to the days when Ganjin, a Buddhist priest from Tang China, reached Japan in 754 AD. Through medical incense and the skill of nerikoh (blended incense balls), Ganjin introduced a thriving incense culture from Tang dynasty China into Japan.
Takimono, a kind of nerikoh, is made of powdered incense for medical use, combined with binding substances such as nectar and treacle. There was no fragrance incense before nerikoh in Japan, and people used to burn medical incense to generate fragrances. As nerikoh is a mixture of ingredients, different mixtures created subtly different fragrances. People started to come up with their own concoctions to create their personal favorite. This was the moment where incense diverged from purely being a religious offering to a fragrant pleasure, “soradakimono”, designed for the enjoyment of fragrant aromas.
Court nobles in the Heian period (8th to 12th centuries) concocted original blends for personal use. To impregnate their clothes or suffuse their rooms for guests, court people burnt their favorite blend of incense. Because they started creating fragrances for their pleasure, they established the foundation of an incense culture that was firmly attached to a keen awareness of the seasons. This is how the essential quality of Koh-Do (“the Way of Incense”) was formed.
What is Indian bamboo Incense?
Indian bamboo incense was used for creating pleasing scents and also for medicinal purposes such as healing. It is used in religious practices such as Hinduism and Buddhism. People use bamboo incense to remove negative energy, welcoming in good luck, wealth, and fortune. Traditional fragrances include amber, myrrh, frankincense, patchouli, and sandalwood.
Bamboo incense has a bamboo stick at the core. It is rolled in the paste with tree or charcoal powder that includes resins of various trees to create fragrance. After drying the stick, it is dipped into a perfumed solvent.
Compared to other types of incense, bamboo sticks do not break easily because of the bamboo core. When burning, it is suggested to use an incense plate that is made for bamboo incense. It has a smaller hole than for other thicker incense sticks. For burning more than one stick, use burners with ash inside.
Tips on Burning Incense (How to use incense)
1. Light the tip of the incense and blow out the flame.
2. Place the burning incense in an incense stand which is placed on a ceramic plate to catch the ash.
3. Place the incense in the center or corner of a room and avoid having it directly next to you.
4. The best way to experience incense is to enjoy the wafting fragrant smoke from afar.
Using an incense burner with incense ash
1. Fill the incense burner with incense burner ash (up to about 80%).
2. Light the top of the incense and then extinguish the flame. Let the smoke drift through the air.
3. For stick incense, stand it on its end in the ash. For cone or coil incense, place it on top of the ash.
4. Leave the lid off to let the incense burn. *The lid may be closed if there is no danger of cutting off oxygen to the flame.
The best time to burn incense (Morning Routine, Relaxing Afternoon, Evening Ritual)
Depending on your lifestyle, incense can be appreciated as part of your daily routine any time of day!
Morning: Pick your favorite incense and make it a routine to burn it as you get ready to start the day. Recommended scents include citrus, ginger, coffee, and cinnamon.
Afternoon: If meditation or reading is your afternoon routine, pairing such activities with incense may be a perfect fit as burning incense can help with focus and relaxation. For instance, if your meditation is 30 minutes long, use incense that lasts for 30 minutes as a timekeeper. Scents such as frankincense, sandalwood, cedar, sage, lavender, lemongrass, green tea, and vanilla help with focus and being refreshed.
Evening: Wind down with your favorite incense before bedtime. It can help create a peaceful atmosphere, preparing you for a restful night’s sleep. Scents such as jasmine, lavender, rose, ylang ylang, vetiver, bergamot, and cedarwood are known to be used for bedtime and relaxation.
For many people, incense becomes an essential part of their daily life—Use at your own pace and as you desire whether it is part of your morning routine, religious offering, reading time, gatherings, meditation practice, or as an air purifier. Enjoy searching for your favorite incense and incense burners to enlighten and enrich your day! To check out for more information on useful tips on incense, click here.