Guide to Choosing the Best Incense Sticks
Incense sticks are often associated with yoga and meditation and can also be regularly seen burning in temples in the Far East. They are made from a natural material, most commonly seen with a bamboo core - but the quality of this type varies widely as many can have an over powering aroma. The higher quality ones tend to be made of a solid stick of pure rolled plant material, which can be seen most often in Japanese incense making. These are on the whole more natural and offer a more delicate fragrance suitable for meditation.
Incense can be burnt in the space before meditation or at the start of any spiritual practice to prepare the space. The smoke is said to clear away stuck or negative energies, as it purifies stuck vibrational patterns. This is also particularly good to do after any conflict in the household, or simply to keep the space feeling calm.
There are so many different types of incense available and it can be confusing to know where to start. Many spiritual shops do not always stock the best varieties either, thus giving incense a bad name altogether. Seeking out the best, most healthy incense sticks for your meditation is important - but how to do it?
Understanding what makes Incense healthy?
Finding high quality, healthy incense sticks is often quite a challenge. Firstly look for the words ‘natural incense sticks’ on the packet. This should mean that the sticks only contain natural ingredients - which is of course the very best for your health. However you might want to dig a little further and see where the fragrance comes from - what exactly is the stick made of? Many sticks are made with a bamboo core, which is coated with an un-aromatic filler. The incense stick is then either 'dipped' in a strong smelling perfume oil (which can be synthetic and best avoided) or more natural essentials oils (slightly better but still not the purest variety). If you are looking for the best incense sticks for your health seek out incense that is made with ONLY 'pure herbs' and doesn’t contain any bamboo core (as the bamboo core makes it more smoky smelling). Pure herbal incense also burns cleaner with a whiter smoke or an elegant 'cloud' as the ancients used to call it.
Japanese v's Tibetan Incense sticks
Tibetan incense is also very pure, but the quality varies wildly and if you get it wrong the scent can be quite earthy and too pungent for most tastes. For Tibetan incense sticks that are good quality look at the ingredients list and see if there are scents that you like, again look for natural fragrances, anything that smells very strong before you even opened it, is usually an indication that the scent is not real but 'dipped' in fragrance oil (which is to be avoided). The sticks here tend to be thick and smokey - but can also be lovely if the scent is refined or not too strong.
Japanese incense or what is also termed 'Japanese Style Incense Sticks' are harder to find, but these are some of the purest and most high quality varieties available on the market. Some of this type of incense can still contain subtle perfume, which although can be lovely sometimes, is not what we are looking for in our quest for the most healthy types of incense to use in meditation. Price often denotes quality here, so if it says Sandalwood and is surprisingly expensive, it usually means that the Sandalwood is pure and is made of the wood (and not from the essential oil). If you inhale the scent from the wood itself, you are breathing in one hundred times more benefits from this medicinal ingredient, than from any burning oils. Oils, essentials oils and perfumes cannot compete with the lasting natural scent of an aromatic herb either - as natural incense will often linger in the room several hours after burning. So when looking for where to buy the best incense sticks, definitely search for a pure herbal stick and make sure there are no oils inside - not even essential oils, as this can make the scent smokey (and carcinogenic). For meditation you want the scent as pure as possible.
We hope this guide has helped you identify which variety of incense best suits you and explains a little more about the various types available on the market. If you have any more questions please feel free to email us on the contact form below, we are very happy to assist.