An incense is an aromatic plant material that releases fragrant smoke when burned. Incense has been used since Ancient times as a tool in religious rituals for worshiping gods and fending off evils. Outside of religion, the fragrance that emanates from a burning incense also serves to,
- Conceal obtrusive, foul odors
- Repel insects like mosquitoes (i.e citronella) and
- Use as an aphrodisiac, in some cultures
But if you're not an avid worshiper nor have intentions to repel mosquitoes or acquire a partner and you simply like the fragrant smell of incense, you're in good company. Today, there is a whole slew of incense available in the market from the old heavy pungent smell like aloeswood or frankincense, or the earthy wood, nature-inspired scents found in sandalwood, to the light and fresh fruit scents of a tangerine or mango. The types and scents available are simply too many to list.
Incense generally comes in 2 different types, direct burning and indirect burning. Direct burning is combustible incense that when lit, the fragrance from the burning smoke is released. Whereas Indirect burning incense is non-combustible and therefore does not contain material that can ignite. Both direct and indirect burning also come in different forms that is beyond the scope of this guide.
For the purpose of this guide, remember to do your research.
- Find out about the manufacturer you're buying it from
- How they make it
- What type of raw materials, whether natural or synthetic, was used in making it, and
- The requirements your incense would need to release the fragrance i.e charcoal tablet, Japanese Kodo cup, etc.
If you like to learn more about incense check out Aromaweb's article on "Natural Incense and Aromatherapy".