The Powerful Benefits of the Best Types of Incense

What are the best types of incense, and why do people burn incense for prayer, worship, and healing? Because incense has surprisingly powerful benefits for your mind and spirit! Learn how different types of incense – frankincense, white sage, myrrh – can reduce stress and calm anxiety.

An important thing to remember is that burning low-quality incense can be harmful to your health. Poor quality incense is actually a pollutant, especially if burned indoors or in enclosed places. Burning synthetic types of incense can even harm your lungs if you breathe it in over a long period of time. If you burn incense for its pleasant aroma and meditative properties, make sure you use high-quality incense that isn’t toxic.

Below are the safest and healthiest ways to burn different types of incense. I interviewed two people who often use incense for relaxation and meditation, and describe the powerful spiritual and meditative benefits of aromatherapy. You will also learn how essential oils can be used as an alternative to burning incense.

“We use pieces of frankincense on hot coals,” says health blogger Vidya Sury, who often burns incense for meditation and relaxation. “We cover the burning frankincense with a large bamboo basket and spread babies’ clothes on the basket to dry, so the smoke permeates the clothes. After a bath, there’s frankincense in the room to soothe the baby with its gentle wisps of smoke. We dry our long freshly washed hair, holding it over the smoke of frankincense.”

What are the Benefits of Burning Different Types of Incense?

Burning incense for meditation decreases stress, and some people believe that different types of incense – frankincense, sandalwood, and sage – have the power to cleanse negative energy, ease tension, and elevate your meditative state. Incense for meditation and prayer is an ancient tradition.

Before we get into the benefits of different types of incense, here’s a brief summary of the research on incense burning and health. Incense burning is a traditional and common practice in many families and in most temples in Asia. The religious and meditative benefits are widely accepted, as is the belief that the pleasant aroma of incense improves mood and relieves stress.

However, during the burning process of all types of incense, particle matter is released into the air. This can be breathed in and trapped in the lungs, and is known to cause an inflammatory reaction. Not much research has been done on incense as a source of pollution, although it has been linked to different types of ill health effects. If you’re burning incense, make sure you get high-quality sticks or other types of incense. Also, consider the benefits of essential oils as an alternative to the smoke of incense.

Frankincense for sanctification and cleansing

The Senari’s Incense Assortment – 12 Pure Scents Herbal, Myrrh, and Frankincense is made of 100% pure, natural ingredients. This is aromatherapy for relaxation, stress release, and meditation. This particular type of incense contains all-natural ingredients and has a beautiful, soft scent.

frankincense benefits types of incense

Different types of incense affect people differently. Many people like the more traditional scents, such as Frankincense, Sandalwood, Patchouli, Amber, Cedar, and Sage.

“I love the many temple masala blends from India, especially some of the durbars and champas,” says Daniel on How to Manage Stress and Depression. “In fact my favorite type of incense is a champa incense that my sister bought for me at a small temple in India 12 years ago. I have been searching for it ever since, and it has inspired my quest to produce scents that move people.”

Raw incense is the best type of incense to burn; it consists of fresh or dried plant parts that are used for smoldering. Some incense even contains minerals, feathers, shells, or other natural materials.

Burning incense for calmness and peace

Vidya adds that incense sticks are a traditional part of her religious rituals. “In my home, we burn  incense sticks (or joss sticks) of different fragrances. Our favorite flavors of incense are frankincense, sandalwood, roses, lavender, Michelia Champaka and jasmine. In fact, we make pot pourri from champaka petals.”

Bless Natural Frankincense and Myrrh are natural types of incense that have been burned throughout the ages, for a sense of calmness and peace. The type of incense you prefer to use as a meditation for sleep depends on what scents relax and soothe you.

Benefits of the Best Types of Incense

Frankincense is the original incense; in fact that’s where the word “incense” comes from. The effects of burning Frankincense are uplifting, centering and purifying with a warm sweet aroma. It’s one of the best types of incense for creating a meditative space.

“Sometimes, if the atmosphere of the house feels ‘heavy’ and I can’t sleep, I’ll burn incense,’” says Tracy on 9 Natural Sleep Remedies for Sleepless Nights. “I will use a purifying incense – usually Frankincense and/or Myrrh, both of which have ancient origins and are believed to purify and sanctify a space. The Fred Soll company has a pure resin stick incense which combines them both, and that’s my preference.”

Sandalwood for grounding and relaxing

Shoyeido’s Moss Garden All-Natural Incense is a type of sandalwood incense that delivers pure essence without waste of a “support core.”

types of incense for burning

“Sandalwood incense has been used for at least 4000 years for good reason,” says Dan. “Its effects are both grounding and euphoric, promoting a sense of well being and relaxation with a woody, sweet and exotic scent that wraps you in peace and harmony.”

Mindfulness meditation has become an increasingly popular way for people to improve their mental and physical health, yet most research supporting its benefits has focused on lengthy, weeks-long training programs. The good news for sleep meditation is that new research shows that even just 25 minutes of mindful meditation for three consecutive days alleviates psychological stress. You don’t need to burn incense or meditate every day…unless of course you find it’s the natural remedy for sleep you’ve been missing!

What type of incense do you burn for sleep and meditation?

Nag Champa, Sunrise, Sandalwood, Midnight, and Patchouli, and Celestial are the most popular types of incense on Amazon, created by Satya. Many people burn incense to relieve stress and tension, because the scent of burning incense doesn’t just affect moods and spaces, it changes them.

Different Types of Incense for Sleep Meditation
Different Types of Incense for Sleep Meditation

“For raw sage, just light it and let it smolder,” writes Kerry Hughes in The Incense Bible: Plant Scents That Transcend World Culture, Medicine, and Spirituality. “If you are using resins or some other dried materials, you’ll need to burn them on top of charcoal or some other hot surface, such as a hot rock from a campfire.”

Simply enjoy the scent or atmosphere that incense imparts, or use it to enhance your religious or spiritual experience.

Cinnamon for balancing emotions

“Supposedly the only substance whose scent arouses most males is that of cinnamon, which is often a component in mixed incenses,” says deTraci. “For women, jasmines and roses scents are supposed to enhance the romantic mood. And 60s hippie favorite patchouli is said to work on both!”

Patchouli to lift your spirits

If you’d like to use incense to spice up your love life, you may like Nippon Kodo – Morning Star – Patchouli incense sticks.

“Patchouli has a satisfying earthy quality that is great to balance the emotions and help you relax,” says Dan. “At the same time it energizes and uplifts the spirits. As well as contributing to peace of mind, it is a great aphrodisiac. That must be why I like it so much!”

Amber for elevation and letting go

“Amber is a sweet layered scent, with spicy, earthy rich undertones,” says Dan. “Known as the “King of Scents” it will help you let go of daily concerns and enter the world of sensual arousal or spiritual elevation, depending on the intention.”

Cedar and Sage for positive energy

“Cedar and Sage drive out negative energies, spirits and influences,” says Dan. “They have been traditionally used as a smudge to purify people and places before any sacred ceremony.  They both help with creating a meditative and relaxing space.”

If you’re thinking about burning incense for meditation and prayer, heed Vidya’s advice: “The smoke can aggravate or irritate those with respiratory problems and COPD,” she says. “So it is better to avoid lighting an incense stick/cone near someone like that. Some people develop a headache from prolonged exposure to smoke.”

A different type of incense – essential oil

An Essential Oil Diffuser and Mist Humidifier is a soothing, calming way to experiment with different types of aromatherapy – and the powerful benefits of incense – without burning incense smoke. This Essential Oil Diffuser is a “5 in 1”: Ultrasonic Aromatherapy Fragrant Oil Humidifier Vaporizer, Timer and Auto-Off Safety Switch.

Essential Oil Diffuser type of incense
Essential Oil Diffuser

You might try Frankincense Essential Oil if you don’t have pieces of frankincense and hot coals. A candle and diffuser is a lovely way to avoid burning incense if you want to avoid smoke.

Incense can can become a ritual for relaxing, cleansing, and purifying your thoughts and energy. Meditation can help students focus while studying, decrease the stress medical students feel, and make you a more compassionate person.

If you burn incense to help you sleep, make sure you don’t leave it burning all night long. The last thing that’ll help with meditation for sleep practice is a fire.

What is your favorite or best type of incense? Feel free to share how you benefit from using incense in the comments section below! And remember that if you burn incense, try to avoid the harmful side effects of prolonged smoke inhalation.


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24 thoughts on “The Powerful Benefits of the Best Types of Incense”

  1. That you so much for sharing! I really love burning incense its spiritual aspect, pleasant smell, and health benefits!

  2. I totally agree incense has a sedative property which makes it a great natural treatment to aid insomnia. Burning healthy incense sticks helps to focus the mind and ready the body by creating the right aromatic atmosphere when practicing yoga. Doing such a natural and healthy activity you’ll want to avoid anything artificial, toxic or distracting.

  3. Thank you for the information about incense. I have been in since since I was in my teens. I have experienced the benefits of different types of incense.

  4. Do you know much about insence? I know certain ones and use them but recently i got some new ones but I can’t find out what they are burned for so until I know i will not use them. I try as a Christian to use them for healing, health, positive home and to ban negative spirits, and to protect my home. In the last several years i have found them to be a great aid in helping my family. But i only use them if i understand them.

  5. Great article on the benefits of different types of incense. I don’t like burning it, but love the smell of frankincense. Currently Japanese and Chinese incense cones are very popular, as are Indian scents such as Sandal and Champa.

  6. Hi Meghan,

    Sure, feel free to quote this information on the best types of incense to burn for health and other reasons. But I have no experience with plant therapies, and I am not a biology major. I don’t know anything about incense — as you can read in the article, health blogger Vidya Sury was the source of this info. She is a very popular writer, so just Google her name and you will find her blogs and websites. I’m sure she would be happy to help you out!

    All good things,

  7. With your permission I would possibly like to quote short bits of this article in an informative speech I am going to be presenting for a speech class. It is a speech on incense–what incense is and the spiritual and therapeutic uses of incense. Would you mind telling your last name so I can give a better citation for this webpage? Also, would you please tell me more about your experience with plant therapies? Are you a biology major? Thank you so much and God bless! I found this article very helpful to my research!

  8. There are different types of incense that I have used to my office; I especially like Frankincense, Sandalwood and many incense types that gives a good fragrance and smell. Thanks for the information on different incense types, Laurie!

  9. Good question about burning incense while praying and meditating, rasbalas, thank you!

    I’m a Christian, I love God, and I have a personal relationship with Jesus. And I believe it depends on where your heart, mind, and soul is while you’re praying. Jesus said that it’s not what we put on or in our bodies that makes us holy, it’s our thoughts and hearts.

    Incense is simply a scent. It does not have magical powers, and it is not a sin to burn incense while meditating or praying. If your heart is pure and you are focused on God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit then it doesn’t matter what is going on around you. If burning incense helps you pray or meditate by keeping you focused, then there’s nothing wrong with it. I personally don’t burn incense because I just couldn’t be bothered. Plus, I find it too strong, which is distracting.

    That’s my belief! I feel the same way about yoga, and some Christians are very much against yoga. Not me; it’s one of my favorite types of exercise.


  10. some said burning of incenses when meditating and praying as christian is a sin. I will like to know from u if it is true or not?

    1. What is the deal with Christians saying using incense is sinful? Is that really what they say? I think that is a misunderstanding.

      There are many groups of Christians (especially the Pentecostals or the Charismatics) who have long lists of things to avoid with the reasons having to do with demons. The idea is that demons can become attached to things that are venerated by UnGodly (UnChristian) religions, especially Wicca (witchcraft).

      How do I know this? I have been involved in these kinds of groups for years and I have been through the ringer with getting prayer for deliverance. Deliverance means getting rid of the demons. I am not here to say that there is nothing to this. I just have my own experience to say that I am not sure that all those deliverance sessions really ever helped me all that much.

      So, bear with me as I try to present, in a nutshell, the thinking that goes behind the idea that burning incense may be “sinful” or otherwise bad:

      As an example, if pagans (Wiccans or other non-Christian religions) use frogs or statues of frogs, or owls, (and a whole list of other symbols), then they can “pray” over an object (or cast a spell on it) so that the demon can become attached to that object. Then it is extrapolated that if you have an owl or a frog, or a totem pole design in your home, or a statue of Buddah, or a “Billican,” or any other sort of “good luck” item, that THEN you have INVITED into your home the evil spirits attached to the objects. This then goes on further into thinking that you can’t wear a St. Christopher necklace as a good luck charm. Some people even think that you should nott wear a cross necklace.

      So these Christins also will recommend that you get rid of theobjects, and then pray for deliverance from the spirits associated with them. For example, throw out your Ouija board. Repent of any Seances you have participated in. Read Deuteronomy Chapter 18. Along with the totem image, any American Indian design found to be in your posession, such as a blanket or a piece of pottery, can cause you to be bothered by demons.

      So the ideas behind incense being “bad” or, if taken out to the extreme, a “sinful” comes out.

      In the Bible, in the Old Testament (Tanach) there are passages that say things like this:

      “Do not boil a kid (baby goat) in his mother’s milk.”

      In this particular case, God is asking the Priests and the Levites to not follow practices of other people who worship other “gods.” Our God didn’t want anyone to even appear to be worshipping another god so that observers would not become confused.

      The idea here is this: There is only One REAL God: That means the God of the Old Testament (The Great I AM, Yahweh, the LORD GOD).

      This God is also the God of the New Testament: He is the God of the Jews, and is literally the Father of Jesus Christ. (This being via the Holy Spirit.)

      So no, don’t do the practices of those who worship “other” gods, which are literally Demons, evil spirits, who fell along with Satan; powerful angels who have chosen to rebel against God and are also headed for Hell, along with the Devil.

      So, now… with all that explanation as the support, the problem (if any) with a Christian burning incense is IF these evil spirits can be attached to it, in other words, IF you have given permission to them by using the incense.

      Well, if you like incense because you like the fragrance, does this invite a demon? Or are we to assume that there is always a demon (or more) attached to it?

      Maybe, if we expect the incense to do some particluar thing for us, it could be pushing that boundary. It sort of implies that there may be a spirit involved that would cause us to “feel” some particular thing. (That’s why in my previous post I said it may be as simple as a placebo effect.) (That means that if you expect a particular effect, you may perceive it even if it has nothing to do with the fragrance. It really is only working according to your expectation.)

      Interestingly, some Christian religious groups use incense during their worship services. In this case, the smoke of the incense represents our prayers rising up to God.

      On the other hand, now we have a science of aromatherapy. In this case, certain fragrant essential oils are heated to distribute the smell that causes the therapy. If this is a true science, I would assume that it works.

      Some people might like to have a particular fragrance when they pray so that when they walk by somewhere and smell that, they feel more inclined to pray.

      If you want to try this and it is too smoky, perhaps burn the incense in another room, or just burn it for a short time and then snuff it out.

      I have personally been doing experiments with incense lately. I have researched it on the internet, and I have collected comments regarding certain fragrances and what their effects are suppose to be. So if I want a particular effect, I try the incense assigned to it. I can’t really tell, for sure, if this works for me. I haven’t done enough experimenting to have an opinon.

      So the bottom line is this… If you like to burn incense, go ahead. If you are afraid of it being sinful or tending to cause problems with demons (or illness, fear, or other consequences) in your life, perhaps you could read some books on the topic. There are many, many books out there which all pretty much say what I said above. “Pigs in the Parlor,” by Frank Hammond. It is considered a classic on the subject. A much more current volume has a long title: “Purging Your House, Pruning Your Family Tree: How to Rid Your Home & Family of Demonic Influence & General Oppression” by Perry Stone.

  11. Marlene, thank you so much for pointing this out! I’ve changed it to meditation, and have updated this article on the best types of incense to burn.

    With gratitude,

    1. There is a lot of info on the net about different incense types and brands. I suspect that the reason a particular scent works is because of the old, standard, placebo effect. I’ve put a lot of time into research and have burned a lot of it. I think I can get too much of it and then I can’t smell anything. My conclusion: I’m going to burn what I like best, which presently is opium.

  12. Great information…. thanks. However, there is a typographical error that occurs multiple times on this page. You say such and such is good for “sleep mediation.” That word (MEDIATION) means a process of being two parties together in an agreement as an option to a law suit. I am pretty sure that you really intended to use the word “meditation.” It is just one letter off. MEDIATION is a form of focusing on one’s thinking to encourage restfulness or to energize, etc.

  13. Vidya,

    It’s great to hear from you! I hope this finds you well, and thank you for your tips on burning incense for meditation, relaxation, and sleep. Your handmade incense stick sounds lovely, and much nicer than artificial room fresheners.

    In peace and passion,

  14. How nice to read this post, Laurie! I fondly remember those days when you were working on it.

    The market is now full of so many “homemade” and “organic” incense that can be used in various way, it is mind-boggling! I now use a very mild handmade stick that burns for a long time and leaves a very gentle fragrance in its wake. After we sweep and swab our home we light frankincense in a holder and carry it around and let it fill the rooms with its natural aroma.

    Much better than artificial room fresheners.Essential oils are also an excellent idea – without the irritation of smoke!

  15. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Thanks for your comment, Jessie! I haven’t burned incense for years, and have yet to figure out what the best type of incense to burn is. I don’t like smokey scents, but do like vanillas and musks.

  16. We burn incense every night, while we say our prayers. It doesn’t matter what flavor or smell the incense is…we just love the ritual of lighting it, and praying while the smoke rises to the heavens.

  17. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    I’ve never liked incense, though my hubby used to burn it all the time! Until I came along :-)

    But, in writing this article, I learned that there are gentle, soft, comforting incense sticks and cones that are nicer than others.

    I’m with you on the essential oil burners, Sydney. I used to burn one in the bathroom all the time, until I ran out of essential oil! Must restock soon…

  18. I’m a big fan of aromatherapy for it’s mood-enhancing benefits and simply for the smell of it. I’m sensitive to smoke and find that burning incense irritates me, but I’ve discovered essential oils which are wonderful. The higher quality brands can get expensive, so rather than using them straight from the bottle, I fill the little bowl on the oil burner with water first and then add a few drops of oil. I love the way it makes my home smell long after the candle has burned out.