Types of Incense: How to Choose the Best One

It can often be overwhelming when trying to get incense because there are so many types to choose from. This guide will go through all the common incense types and then explain how to choose the best one for your given situation.

What types of incense are there?

There are three main types of incense: directly lit, heated, and unlit. Directly lit incense must be set on fire and burned. It is the most common and often comes as a stick. Heated incense is warmed up on a candle, charcoal, or heater and emits an aroma.

Here is a compilation of all the incense types:

Stick incense

stick incense

This is the most common type of incense. You’ve probably seen this or even used this type. A stick of incense is lit and placed in a holder to catch the ash from burning. As the stick burns down (sort of like a cigarette), scented smoke is emitted.

There are a variety of perfumes and lengths available for scenting a big room or for religious purposes. The length of the stick determines how long it takes to burn. By cutting an incense stick, you may change its burning time.

The scent of stick incense is emitted evenly and gradually due to its homogeneous thickness.

Coil incense

coil incense

Coil incense is essentially the same thing as stick incense, except that the stick has been wrapped into a long spiral.

Because sticks cannot actually be bent like this, coil incenses are composed entirely of incense material. They lack a hardwood core in the center.

The lengthy burning period of this sort of incense distinguishes it. Coil incense is ideal for scenting a big place, such as a hotel lobby or a space with several corridors.

Cone incense

cone incense

Cone incense is made up of a burning agent, a binding agent, and a scent. It is directly formed into a cone so that it stands on its own.

Light the cone’s top tip. In contrast to stick incense, the aroma of incense cones increases stronger as the burning portion of the cone falls into the broader region of the cone. This sort of incense is ideal for quickly scenting a place.

It’s also easy to make this type using only kitchen scraps you have laying about as I describe here: DIY Wicca: Make Incense from Kitchen Scraps.

Powder incense

powder incense

Powder incenses are incense that has been powdered or even come as loose burnable elements. They solely contain incense material and no core for support.

The powder is placed in a bowl with a burning charcoal disc or lit directly if it contains wood pulp or other slow-burning material.

The powder then smolders, giving a scented smoke distinctive of the substance employed.

Aromatic wood

aromatic wood types of incense

You are probably familiar with the concept of woods giving different fragrances because many types of cooking involve this from smoked meat and grilled foods to fermented ones as well.

These specially prepared woods give off their scent when heated.

There are two methods to enjoy the aromas of fragrant woods. In Japanese tradition, the first is called Monkoh, and it is a very small piece of wood. In modern times, it is usually placed on an electric heater that will reach a constant perfect temperature.

The other method for perfuming a room is Soradaki. First, charcoal will be burned down in a dish of sand. Then the wood pieces will be placed next to or on the hot coals to heat the wood.

Aromatic wood smells offer a relaxing environment for special events.

Kneaded incense

kneaded incense

This traditional style of incense is combined, kneaded, and matured in pottery jars for three to five years before being used. You may have seen this being used in the Japanese Tea Ceremony.

Kneaded incense feels a bit like playdough. This makes it very easy to adjust the amount being used by breaking off or adding pieces to the dough.

Kneaded incense has a pleasant, creamy aroma and is not lit with a flame; rather, it is heated using charcoal or a wood chip heater, or even in modern times, an electric heater. This is very similar to how wood incense is heated.

Pressed incense

In-koh, which translates as “Pressed Incense,” is made by filling fancifully shaped molds with a mixed incense formula. Plum blossoms, the moon, and other shapes are possible. When burnt with charcoal, this type of incense releases its scent.

Which incense is best?

Choosing the right incense is highly personal. You should take into consideration the type, smokiness, quality of material, burn time, and scent.

You’ll need to first answer the question: What is incense used for?

Incense is a wonderful supplement to a yoga or meditation practice, creative practice, spellwork, building energy, focus, and more.

Incense that is lit tends to be cheaper, but it also emits smoke, which can be too intense for some people. This means that incense sticks and cones tend to be better for large rooms or at least have a window open.

Heated incense is mild and soothing, but it tends to be more expensive and requires you to have a way of heating the incense. This is a great choice for small apartments or meditation rooms. Quality electric incense heaters go for around $50 (check current prices here), but once you buy one, you are set for life.

The scent of the incense is going to be the choice that takes the longest time. Here is a chart of the common scents and some uses for each.

Incense TypeUse
SandalwoodMeditation and calming
LavenderTension and stress relief
Dragon’s bloodPower, work, focus
CinnamonPower and passion
VanillaRelaxation and calm
SagePurification and cleansing
Frankincense Balance and sacred

If this is all overwhelming still, you might be asking: What is the most popular incense?

The most popular incense is sandalwood-scented stick incense. You can’t go wrong with this, as it serves almost all incense purposes at an easy and affordable price.

What does incense do spiritually?

When practicing meditation, several religious disciplines employ incense to intensify focus, sharpen senses, and improve one’s own soul. The burning of predetermined size incense sticks was traditionally used to mark the passage of time.

Incense smoke can serve as a gateway to spirituality, whether official or informal, recognized religion or secular. Incense is used in various faiths across the world. It has been used for thousands of years, including in Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, and Wicca.

Burning incense before beginning a project, performing a ceremony, or even doing yoga establishes the tone. Burning sage is a cleansing practice, clearing off bad energy before any spiritual practice or rite.

If you have blockages in any of your chakras, some scents might help you open up, for example, jasmine and rose are excellent for this.

Creating a link between the divine and holy is one of the key spiritual advantages of incense. Incense is recognized to be sacred since it was accessible at the time of Jesus’ birth and has also been utilized in Egyptian and Chinese cultures, among many others.

For example, frankincense has long been used to help individuals connect with God, ancestors, spirit guides, deceased relatives and friends, and angels.

If you want more information on invoking a Goddess, check out these articles:

Certain aromas produced by incense burning bring up old events, feelings, or even persons. Through guided meditation, you will be able to return to distinct portions of your memory that were joyful or noteworthy for you with the aid of incense. You can relive the same emotions and delights that you did at the time.

Types of incense guide

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