The ultimate guide to incense sticks

January 2019

From scenting your home to reducing anxiety and its use in ceremony, the ancient aromatic material of incense holds rich cultural significance, along with many remarkable benefits that are valuable to contemporary living. If you want to know more about what incense is good for, we are here to take you on a guide through its history, material, and best uses.


What are incense sticks?

Incense sticks are aromatic biotic materials that allow a fragrant smoke to fill a room when burned. The aroma can be used for many reasons – for how it looks, smells and when combined with aromatic oils the scents can aid meditative practice and relaxation.


How to light incense sticks

In order to release the fragrance of the incense stick, you simply light the stick and place it in an incense stick holder to keep it away from surfaces. Blowing out the flame when lit encourages the stick to produce glowing ash-like embers that release the soothing scent.



Where did incense originate?

The history of incense dates back to ancient times, and the burning of incense has long been connected with spiritual practice and religion. ‘Incense’ derives from the Latin verb ‘incendere’ meaning ‘to burn, and since the invention of fire, there is evidence that people would burn natural materials such as barks, berries and resins to release their pleasant aroma, with more sophisticated evidence used in Ancient Egypt, later spreading to Greece and Rome. Frankincense was popular with the Egyptians who would burn incense as a religious offering during worship as well as protection for the deceased. Because of these ancient uses, spirituality, peace and ritualism have remained intrinsic to burning incense.


What are incense sticks used for?

Although still used for spiritual practice in many cultures, the peaceful connotations and influence of incense sticks have been adopted by the western world to create a calming atmosphere and a relaxing environment at home. Smell is one of the most powerful of all the senses and has the ability to alter emotions and perceptions in seconds. For this reason, burning incense is a simple but powerful way to enhance the surroundings.

Incense may also be used whilst practising yoga and meditation, the incense smells provide help with relaxation and focus. The clever fragrance is able to create a sense of comfort and homeliness within minutes. An ideal way to ease yourself into the ritual of burning incense is with a starter kit. Traditional incense scents like Frankincense and Myrrh are perfect for those who haven’t experienced incense before, as burning them reveals exotic scents that have been enjoyed by many cultures for thousands of years.


What is incense made of?

Incense is a substance, often made from natural material, that is burned for the purpose of the scent it produces. Depending on the desired scent, the plant-based material can come from resins, barks, seeds, flowers, roots, leaves and spices. Different cultures developed various forms but the most common way to make incense involves coating a thin bamboo stick with combustible paste made from coal, fibres of bamboo and binding agent, which is then either rolled in the ground up scent material or infused in the extracted essential oils, which is the method we use.


Incense Stick Vs Incense Cone

There is plenty of discussion whether incense cones are better than sticks, and vise versa. Here is some information on two of the most common forms of incense:


Incense Stick

The incense stick as we know it has been used in many ancient cultures, such as India and Egypt, for decades. The type we produce at Czech & Speake has its origins in China. This form of incense consists of a thin stick made from bamboo, coated in scent infused material. This would be our recommended choice as the even thickness of the material allows the aroma to be released gradually over an extended period.


Incense Cone

The incense cone has no supporting centre, instead the fragrant material is pressed into a small cone shape. The dense area of fragrant material is good for producing strong scent, although it doesn’t last as long as a stick.


Incense benefits

There is a good reason why burning incense has been around for so long. Fragrance has the remarkable power to stimulate the mind and trigger positive responses, with specific essential oils used for certain purposes.



Relaxation is a typical response that is ideal for your home space; Frankincense incense in particular has been discovered to alleviate anxiety and depression. Incense can be used in any space of the house; as you might use scented candles to relax during a soak, try burning incense in the bathroom.



Incense is good for meditation as the burning scent heightens your senses and deepens attention, to allow you to practice the ritual with a focused and positive piece of mind.



Alternatively for a more lively affair, you can choose deep, exotic incense stick smells to set the atmosphere or mood for an event or an evening of entertainment. You could choose sensuous sandalwood or romantic rose…