For over 3,000 years, incense has been used in many religious ceremonies and found in many cultures. The word “incense” refers to the material used to make it, not the aroma it produces. Incense is known to be used in religious ceremonies, ritual purifications, meditation and aromatherapy. Incense has also been used to cover unpleasant odors, and some are used to repel insects like mosquitoes.
Composed of aromatic plant materials and often combined with essential oils, incense has two classifications – “direct-burning” or “indirect-burning”:
- Indirect-burning Incense: It requires a separate heating source because it cannot burn on its own. This heat source is usually charcoal or glowing ember, and the burning time varies. You can purchase it as whole (raw unprocessed form), powder or granulated (fine bits of incense for a quick burn) or paste (whole or powder combined with dried fruit, honey or soft resin and formed into small balls).
- Direct-burning Incense: It is lit by a flame and fanned out to leave a glowing ember that releases fragrance as it smolders. This incense most commonly comes in the form of sticks, cones and pyramids. However, the incense material can be molded into a virtually any form. A base is used that will burn slowly and evenly without producing a smell of its own.
The quality of incense varies among producers. Many of the inexpensive incense are made using a chemical base and artificial fragrances resulting in fast burning times and sometimes strong aromas. Incense made from natural or high quality materials produce less smoke and less overpowering aroma. High quality incense is mostly made by hand instead of manufactured.
Seeds of Wellness carries direct-burning incense in the forms of sticks and cones made in America. Both suppliers, The Dipper Inc and Wild Berry, use high quality ingredients and make their incense by hand. The burn time for the incense depends on the form – cones average 30 min burn time while stick incense burn an average of 1 hour.