The uses of incenses can be traced back through the ages. It has long been used for spiritual ceremonies and rituals by diverse cultures and religions. The first references to the use of incense can be found in ancient Egypt, where they have discovered trace fragments of resins such as frankincense or myrrh in locations associated with religious practices.
Incense has always been connected with Asian culture such as Hinduism, Confucianism and Buddhism, and is often used for purification rituals and negative energy clearing. Nowadays, its use has expanded all around the world and has become not only the perfect tool to counteract bad or disagreeable odours, but also an essential tool to achieve a deep state of meditation and peace.
Certain scents, particularly those such as lavender or sandalwood, are said to have a calming effect on our nervous systems. Likewise, the use of incense is also recommended in mindfulness or meditation practices. Scents can help stimulating the senses and create focus, you simply need to find a scent you like and make time to enjoy it.
There are also more stimulating aromas that are used because of their psychoactive properties. Some researchers have found that selected scents, such as frankincense or jasmine, could activate different parts of our brains, helping to alleviate anxiety or depression. Similarly, there are fragrances such as cinnamon or musk that are said to act as powerful aphrodisiacs.
Not everyone has tried the suggested benefits of incenses yet and some are not even aware of the many types or incense available, the amazing selection of fragrances available or how to use them?
Do not worry, we’ve put together some tips on how to immerse yourself in the wonderful world of incense.
Where to start?
We stock over 300 different types and fragrances of incense, which to a newcomer can seem a little daunting. However, there are some key scents and brands to look out for, so a good place to start is with the most well-known and widely used; the directly lighting cone and incense sticks.
- Stick incense: Probably the most popular format and very easy to use with a simple ashcatcher. The core is usually made of bamboo wood, but they can also be directly pressed into a stick form without the wooden core. They are made with barks, herbs, natural resins, and oils. Fragrance is released evenly and gradually. Burning times is usually proportional to stick length, with the standard size around 30 minutes.
- Cone Incense: Very similar to stick incense, cones contain the same materials compressed and moulded into a conical shape. Lit from the top of the cone, the aroma intensifies as the cone burns down to the bottom. The cone shape burns for about the same time as the sticks, depending on size, and will fill a room with scent very quickly.
Some of the most popular incense brands:
- Satya Nag Champa: One of the most popular, if not the most popular incense fragrance and brand around the world, it has been used for centuries in rituals and ceremonies. The scent characteristics is based on the Champaca flower, a sacred plant from India that is mixed with other 100% natural ingredients such as sandalwood oils and herbs to create the unique and special scent. Satya uses the traditional hand-rolling technique passed down through generations to achieve the highest quality incense.
- Goloka: This popular brand is manufactured by a non-profit organization in Bangalore, known as the Goloka Seva Trust. All the proceeds go to charitable projects in the community. Examples of their work include collaborating with the Akshaya Patra Foundation (responsible for feeding needy children). They work with the widows of Vrindavan, training them to make incense, as well as creating scholarships for students who come from impoverished backgrounds. These are just a few of the people they help and over the last 16 years, they have created a brand with the highest excellence standards using natural ingredients and hand rolling techniques across all their incense.
- Stamford Incense: Another world-renowned brand, hand rolled using traditional techniques. They only use the purest high-quality vegetarian ingredients, all of which are ethically sourced in order to achieve a wide array of unique and distinct scents.
As with any product that uses heat or a flame, when burning incense there are some safety measures you should always follow:
- Always burn incense in a suitable ashcatcher or incense burner, and make sure this is placed on an even heat proof surface away from drafts.
- Never leave the burning incense unattended in a room.
- Incense generates smoke as it burns, so only burn one stick or cone at a time and ventilate the room if it becomes too intense. This is especially relevant if you have asthma or a similar condition.
- Try to always look for natural and high-quality incense as they are made from the purest materials and have a more intense fragrance.
Above all enjoy incense, it can be used in so many different ways to stimulate, relax and enhance your mind, body and environment, once you start, you’ll wonder why you hadn’t used it before!