Incense Types and How to Use Them

Safety Notes

BURNING INCENSE: Never leave burning incense unattended and always keep out of reach of children or pets. Always burn on a heat-proof surface, and safely dispose of ash only once it has cooled.

ASTHMA: Like many other irritants, smoke from incense can irritate asthmatic conditions. If you or anyone in your family are known asthmatics please consider this before purchasing or using any incense products.

What is Incense?

The word ‘incense’ is derived from the Latin ‘incensum‘ – to set on fire. All incense types, whether stick, resin, cone or herb, are smouldered to release their fragrance through aromatic smoke.

Not all incense is created equally, though. Many cheap commercially made incense types are simply sticks covered in sawdust and glue, dipped into synthetic fragrances and chemicals that help the scent ‘throw’. Many are potentially toxic or known carcinogens, or can cause headaches or nausea.

At AQ we focus only on NATURAL incense types that generally contain beautiful naturally aromatic ingredients and botanicals like resins, herbs or wood powders, and are typically handmade using centuries-old traditional methods – incense where you can actually see the gorgeous natural botanicals.

While some of the exotic types may appear a little daunting, most are just as simple to burn as a standard incense stick, and very few require any specialised equipment.

Types of Incense

Agarbatti – Indian Sticks

This is what most people picture when they think ‘incense’ – aromatic ingredients compressed around an inner bamboo skewer. High quality Agarbatti is generally made using the ‘masala’ method, with the raw ingredients ground into a paste, which is then hand-rolled around an inner bamboo stick.

TO BURN: Simply light the end of the stick, and when it begins to glow blow out the flame and allow the stick to smoulder over an ash-catcher, incense box or burner, or heatproof dish. The incense will naturally burn out as it reaches the uncoated bamboo section, and the ash can be disposed of once cooled.

Incense Cones

Instead of rolling ingredients around a stick, they are compressed into moulds to create Cones. They may be considered ‘purer’ than Agarbatti sticks, as there is no scent added from the burning skewer.

TO BURN: As Cones burn right through to the base, they need to be burned on a heat-proof stand, and not directly on wood (many come with a simple stand, or choose your own burner with a metal plate etc). Hold a flame to the tip, wait until it’s caught and is starting to glow red, then blow out the flame and allow to smoke. The cone will extinguish itself once it burns through to the base.

 

Backflow Cones

Differing slightly from standard cones, Backflow Cones have a hole in the base that goes almost to the top – the hole aligns with a hole or channel in a specialised Backflow Burner, allowing the smoke to flow downwards like a waterfall over the design to create a stunning visual effect. These will not work with ‘standard’ cone burners.

TO BURN: Light as you would with a normal cone and place on the platform. At first, smoke will come from the TOP of the cone, but once the lit section burns down to meet the hole inside (this may take a couple of minutes – just be patient) the smoke will then begin to flow DOWNWARDS.

 

Tibetan Dhoop

Tibetan Dhoop sticks are similar to Agarbatti sticks, except instead of compressing the ingredients around an inner bamboo stick, the ingredients are extruded into a cylinder, then allowed to dry. Made by hand from complex traditional blends of herbs, resins and botanicals, they have a rustic aroma that is much less ‘perfumed’ than most commercial incense.

TO BURN: Hold a flame to the tip in the same way you would a standard stick, wait until it has caught and is starting to glow red, then blow out the flame and allow the fragrant smoke to fill the air. As Dhoop is generally thicker and burns right through to the base, it requires a burner stand with a hole large enough, or can be laid across the bars of a Burner Box (many come with a simple burner – will not work with ‘ashcatcher’ burners).

Japanese Koh

Delicate Japanese ‘Koh’ is similar to Indian ‘dhoop’ in that it does not contain an inner bamboo skewer. The fine sticks give off less smoke and a subtle aroma, making them the perfect accompaniment to a relaxing bath or in a smaller space. Burn a couple at once for a stronger scent, or mix sticks for a unique fragrance.

TO BURN: Like dhoop sticks, Koh will burn until the very end so require a suitable burner stand, or can be laid across the bars of a Burner Box (not an ashcatcher – Morning Star sticks do come with a simple burning tile to place over a heatproof dish to catch the ash). Light as with any stick – ignite the end til glowing, then blow out and allow to smoulder.

 

Nepalese Rope

Rope is one of the most unique incense types you’re likely to come across, handmade using traditional methods. Dried herbs and other naturally scented botanicals are finely powdered and wrapped in a thin strip of hand-prepared Nepali lokta paper, which is then braided to form a soft rope-like dhoop stick, ready to burn.

TO BURN: Light the intertwined ends and once it’s alight, blow out the flame to allow the stick to smoulder. Rest a lit stick in a heatproof dish of sand or ash, on a suitable burner or hanging stand, or across the bars of a Burner Box. The stick will smoulder until completely burned through.

Resins & Smudge

See our other DISCOVER pages for detailed information on pure RESIN GUMS like Frankincense and Copal, or SMUDGE STICKS made from White Sage and other botanicals.

SHOP Incense

For more tips, ideas and recipes, visit our SOCIAL PAGES.

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When you’re looking to scent your space and don’t need any of the therapeutic benefits associated with aromatherapy, the natural version can be incredibly expensive and difficult to justify burning in a diffuser. ‘Fragrance oils’ like these are chemical copies that replicate a scent, without any therapeutic benefits, so are the perfect choice when burning just for fragrance. This range of inexpensive, beautiful quality Fragrance Oils for your burner or aroma jewellery is from Goloka, one of our favourite ethical incense makers. Made in India.

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FOCUS ON OILS: LEMON
Lemon Essential Oil has that familiar fresh, sharp citrusy aroma we all recognise, It is produced from cold pressing the rind of the fruit, making it one of the more inexpensive oils.

The scent is refreshing and believed to assist concentration, lift the spirits and aid decision making. Lemon oil is also highly prized as an antiseptic, and can counteract acidity in the body making it useful in treating conditions such as gout, arthritis and cellulite. In skincare, Lemon oil is astringent and can be used in cleansers for oily skin.

Lemon is a non-toxic oil, though may cause dermal irritation in some sensitive skins. Lemon oil is also phototoxic so avoid using on skin before exposure to sun.

CLEANING: When used in Chemical Free Cleaning Lemon makes an excellent anti-viral oil for disinfecting – Lemon is one of the most commonly used oils in natural cleaning, with a beautiful clean, fresh scent. Lemon is also a stain remover, great for breaking up grease or sticky residue when added to your cleaning products (try using a few drops on a tissue or cloth to remove stickers or glue from glass; take care using on plastic etc as Lemon can be a solvent). Lemon is also known as a spider & insect repellent. Visit our DISCOVER pages for more Chemical Free Cleaning ideas:

https://aromaqueen.com.au/chemical-free-cleaning/

DISCOVER MORE about Aromatherapy and How to Use Essential Oils, HERE:
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We also offer plenty of pre-made Pure Oil Blends to suit a number of situations, so even if you`re unfamiliar with which oils are best to use, you can browse and find something to fulfil your needs.

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FOCUS ON OILS: PATCHOULI (Pogestemon cablin)
Patchouli oil is steam distilled from the fermented leaves of the tall, bushy Pogestemon patchouli plant. The scent is strong and earthy, a base note often used as a perfume fixative, particularly in Oriental type perfumes.

Patchouli oil is a good choice for dealing with anxiety and depression. In skincare it is a tissue regenerator, helping to stimulate regrowth of skin cells. It can assist in healing rough cracked skin and sores, and is useful in treating acne, eczema and fungal infections.

Patchouli also has a deodorising effect so is helpful in clearing odours around the home - Patchouli scented incense can be an excellent choice for cleansing a musty space.

Patchouli oils is generally non-toxic, non-irritant and non-sensitising (when used with standard sensible aromatherapy safety guidelines, as always!).

Along with the oil (priced at $12.95 / bottle) we also stock Patchouli scented incense in sticks, cones, Nepalese rope incense, backflow cones and Japanese Morning Star. See everything Patchouli here:

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BLACK COPAL RESIN INCENSE
Black Copal is a greyish colour, differing from the lighter, yellow-toned white or golden versions. Black Copal is often considered the most desirable of the three because of its rich, heavy scent.

Copal resin is native to Mexico and Central America and has been used for centuries as incense in religious or magical ceremonies – the Mayans of Mexico believed that when burned as incense, Copal turns into otherworldly tortillas that are eaten by the deities. The word copal is derived from the Nahuatl language word copalli, meaning “incense”, and there are a few different types available, each with subtle difference in scent. It is similar in a way to Frankincense, but has a fragrance all of its own.

Each type available separately:
WHITE COPAL has a beautifully clean, crisp scent.
GOLDEN COPAL has a warm, honey-like colouring with a crisp, almost citrus scent that is slightly richer, complex and more spicy than the White variety.
BLACK COPAL (this listing) is often considered the most desirable of the three because of its rich, heavy scent.

Resin incense, botanical powders, flowers, leaves and woods can be burned for their natural scent, either over a charcoal disk or using a candle warmed censer (burner) – see our DISCOVER pages for our easy to follow PHOTO TUTORIAL on burning charcoal tablets:

DISCOVER MORE about resin incense:
https://aromaqueen.com.au/resin-incense/

Or view our Resin Incense section on our Aussie website for our full range of resins, burners and kits:
https://aromaqueen.com.au/product-category/incense/resin-incense/

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