Holy Smoke - Benefits of Burning Incense Sticks
The burning of incense is as ancient as we humans. It’s been used for centuries to express love for the universe and to honor pantheons of deities. The fragrance of incense smoke immediately changes the mood and aroma in a space. As you take a big whiff, it immediately puts your mind at ease. With the holy smoke from these incense sticks, you can transfer your room into a ritual, prayer, or soothing environment in just a matter of seconds. Besides, burning incense sticks is also believed to remove obstacles and danger, and fulfill your wishes. Keep reading to know more interesting facts about Incense Sticks.
What Are Incense Sticks?
Incense sticks are bamboo sticks coated with the paste of perfumed ingredients, that when burned, release fragrant aromas. The fragrance could be of anything, from sandalwood to jasmine to palo santo.
According to the records, Egyptians were the ones to use the first incense ever during the Fifth Dynasty (2345-2494 BC). The word “incense” literally means “to burn” in Latin. In ancient Egypt, priests used to burn incense in sacred ceremonies reserved for holy temples. Now, in some Asian countries like Nepal, India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, incense is called “Agarbatti“ or “Dhoop”.
Incense Sticks Ingredients
Incense sticks were traditionally made using Ayurvedic principles where key ingredients were classified into five different categories;
Ether: Fruits (example - star anise)
Water: Stems and Branches (example - frankincense)
Earth: Roots (example - turmeric)
Fire: Flowers (example - clove)
Air: Leaves (example - patchouli)
However, in modern days, Incense sticks are typically made up of an aromatic fragranced material and a combustible binding material that allows the incense to burn and produce smoke. The specific ingredients in incense sticks between regions and manufacturers.
The aromatic materials in incense sticks are typically plant-based - they may include a variety of resins, barks, flowers, seeds, and roots. Some specific examples of aromatic ingredients include:
Meanwhile, the combustible binding material in incense sticks may also vary. Usually it include charcoal or wood powders but when it comes to making Tibetan incense sticks, plant resin and herbal powder are used as the combustible binding material.
The perfumed ingredients in incense are typically called masala. You may associate the term with cooking but it simply means a mixture of ground ingredients.
How Are Incense Sticks Made?
Everything in incense sticks is of natural materials. Usually, the sawdust from machilus wood is ground into a paste with charcoal and scented oils. The paste is then coated on the top section of the bamboo sticks to make incense sticks.
There are a variety of incense sticks available in the market but among them, Tibetan incense sticks are the most popular ones around the world.
Tibetan Incense Sticks
Tibetan incense sticks are a special meditation incense that is formulated in strict compliance with Tibetan Buddhist tantra, under the direct supervision of herbs masters.
Unlike many incense sticks that include sawdust and charcoal, Tibetan incense sticks are made with plant resin and herbal powder.
- With a high absorption rate, the plant resin provides the incense with a great ability to retain fragrance.
- Herbal powder is typically used in incense to create absorbent punk.
- The scented oils in incense are used as combining oils with other fragrances in an oil base.
- A small amount of paint is also added to the paste for color coordination.
Unlike normal stick incense, where bamboo sticks are actually used, Tibetan incense sticks are just made into sticks using a mold to press them into the shape.
Benefits of Burning Incense Sticks
For centuries, incense sticks have been used in spiritual and religious rituals in cultures around the world. While there’s limited research on its health benefits, we still have plenty of reasons to use incense sticks. Below are listed the top 10 supernatural benefits of incense sticks.
It is believed that burning incense sticks deepens one’s attention and uplifts spiritual focus when practicing meditation. The aroma of incense taps into your spiritual connections and calms your mind, cleansing the space for inner and outer journeys. Incense sticks are commonly used as a premeditation ritual at the beginning of the session. Sandalwoods and Lotus fragranced incense sticks are frequently used for meditation. However, you can choose the one that suits you the best.
You can use incense sticks to purify your home as certain floral incense are beautiful air purifiers. It’s also a quick method to get rid of unwanted smells in your room. Using incense sticks will give you a fresh cleansing feel and brings a sense of new beginnings. As some floral incense carries antibacterial properties, you can use it to eliminate diverse pathogenic bacteria from the air as well.
3. Generosity and Mindfulness
Stimulating the senses is a great way to engage with the moment. Incense can help you to center yourself. Using Incense sticks, you can easily create good Karma without expecting anything in return. Light up some incense sticks and let the aroma flow through your mind and body. The holy smoke carries us along the natural flow of life.
Research has shown that certain scents, particularly scents like Frankincense, Sandalwood and Cedarwood, have a calming effect on our nervous systems and relax both our mind and body. Light some Incense sticks, curl up on the sofa and enjoy reading your favorite book with a hot cup of tea.
5. Reduce Stress and Anxiety
According to the studies, a step up from relaxing, burning incense sticks reduces body activities including your heart rate and breathing. Moreover, the fragrance of incense sticks, particularly of Sandalwoods, Lavender, and Rosemary, encourages your mind to stop worrying and racing for things.
We mostly see incense sticks in religious and spiritual settings all over the world. Almost every indigenous cultures and religion - including Hinduism, Buddhism and Christianity - believe that burning incense sticks sends prayers directly up to Spirit. In short, the burning of Incense sticks acts as a doorway to spirituality.
7. Stimulate Creativity
Certain incense fragrances help you stimulate creativity, and improve mental health. Aloes wood-based incense such as Lemongrass, Citrus scents, Geranium and Ylang-Ylang are believed to increase focus and enhance concentration as well. Burn incense sticks when working or studying as it is less intrusive than playing music in the background.
8. Aids Sleep
Insomnia is an increasing affliction in modern days. As certain incense, especially that which is made with Lavender, Vetiver and Chamomile, is associated with aid to sleep, it can help you fall asleep. These incense sticks induce restfulness for a busy mind. Plus, it’s much safer than using a candle with its naked flame.
9. Yoga Practice
The fragrance of incense sticks creates the right aromatic atmosphere that helps you boost your energy and stay focused on your workout. As you do a natural and healthy activity like Yoga and meditation, you would definitely want to avoid anything artificial and toxic. Burning incense sticks help blocking odors during your practice.
10. Medicinal Uses
The effect of sweet aromas produced from Incense smoke reportedly releases healthy hormones such as serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is a natural mood stabilizer that helps with sleeping, eating, and digestion. It is also responsible for reducing depression, headaches, and anxiety.
How to Burn Incense Sticks?
Incense sticks have been around for centuries and are used for a variety of purposes including religious and cultural practices, neutralizing odors, and calmness. Most of the incense sticks typically are plant-based which is what gives it an aromatic scent. As burning incense is a sacred religious practice worldwide, make sure you treat it with respect. While burning incense sticks, keep in mind to take safety precautions to minimize fire hazards.You can buy incense sticks from NepaCraft. We offer a variety of high-quality valuable incense sticks that can bring good luck, peace and prosperity to your daily life. Our incense sticks are completely handmade according to the ancient Tibetan system.