What Are Incense Sticks?

If you’re reading this article then it is quite possible that you may have heard of incense and may even be a fan of the inherent aromas, but do you know what incense actually is?

Although quite a few of us have grown up around incense due to involvement in a religious group or some other practice, there are still many who are unsure what exactly it is that they are burning. Even fewer know the history behind it all or how it is produced.

Incense is a composite made from odoriferous resins, aromatic wood, plant oils, flowers, or other fragrant materials. These fragrant materials are often specifically formulated to create a unison of fragrance when burnt.

Although some modern incense uses synthetic perfumery ingredients, traditionally incense was entirely natural. Some incense sticks also contain charcoal to help keep the stick lit.

Incense Smoke
Incense Smoke


The word ‘incense’ is derived from the latin word ‘incendere’ which means ‘to set on fire’.


Traditionally, incense was used primarily in religious settings both as an offering, as well as to clear the air and keep temples nice smelling. This was often difficult due to so many workers, farmers, and so forth congregating into one building at the same time.

You will also find many people that burn incense to aid in their meditative or yoga practices. Scents such as sandalwood are often thought to be calming in nature and provide a tranquil atmosphere for the practitioner. For the same reason, people often burn incense for stress relief.

This article was last revised on 02/28/2020.

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