Can You Really Eat Incense? Risks and Facts

Can you really eat incense?

Have you ever wondered about the safety of consuming plant resins used in incense?

The answer is a resounding no. Incense is not meant for consumption, and eating it can lead to serious health risks, including side effects that can be harmful to your body.

Inhaling the fumes from burning incense repeatedly over long periods can also cause health problems, including lung cancer.

Additionally, it’s important to note that while plant resins have been used in traditional medicine for centuries, they should only be consumed under the guidance of a trained healthcare professional.

The toxic fumes released by burning incense, containing sulphur dioxide and plant resins, can cause harm when ingested. Long-term exposure to these chemicals can result in seizures, inflammation, and other side effects that can lead to pain and infectious diseases.

It is essential to understand the dangers of eating incense, even if it is used as a traditional medicine, and avoid any exposure to its ingredients.

We’ll also look at some common side effects and health problems that may arise from long-term exposure to incense fumes, including asthma, lung cancer, and sulphur dioxide.

So let’s dive in and learn more about this topic!

Aromatic Ingredients in Incense and Their Toxicity

Incense has been used for centuries as a way to create a calming and relaxing atmosphere. However, while it may be pleasant to smell, inhaling the fumes from burning incense can trigger asthma symptoms.

Additionally, some types of incense contain saltpeter which can cause respiratory irritation. It is important to note that individuals with EDS should also avoid exposure to incense fumes as it may exacerbate symptoms.

Some aromatic ingredients in incense are toxic when consumed.

Common Ingredients in Incense

Incense is made up of a variety of ingredients, including plant resins, essential oils, and organic compounds. When burned, it releases fumes and particulate matter into the air, which can potentially cause inflammation in some individuals.

Some common ingredients found in incense include:

  • Frankincense
  • Myrrh
  • Sandalwood
  • Cedarwood
  • Patchouli
  • Lavender
  • Sage

While the fumes from burning incense sticks and incense smoke are generally safe to inhale, liquid incense can be dangerous if ingested.

Benzene: A Carcinogen Found in Some Types of Incense

Benzene fumes, a carcinogen, can be found in some types of incense made with common ingredients. When burned at high temperatures, these ingredients produce benzene, which can cause respiratory problems and increase the risk of cancer.

Long-term exposure to benzene fumes may also trigger asthma attacks and affect the health of pregnant women (PA).

To avoid exposure to benzene fumes when using incense sticks, it’s important to choose natural or low-smoke varieties that do not contain synthetic fragrances or petroleum-based binders. This is especially crucial for individuals with asthma.

Long-Term Exposure to Certain Ingredients Can Cause Respiratory Problems

Inhaling stick incense smoke can cause respiratory problems, especially if you are exposed to it for long periods of time. Some ingredients commonly used in stick incense, such as wood powders and synthetic fragrances, can irritate the lungs and cause coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath.

To minimize your risk of respiratory problems when burning incense, use natural varieties that do not contain synthetic fragrances or other irritants.

Proper Use and Handling of Incense to Avoid Poisoning or Harm

Incense burning has been a long-standing practice for various purposes, including spiritual, medicinal, and even practical uses. However, while it is commonly used today, there are still some risks involved in using incense that people should be aware of.

Read the Instructions Before Using Incense

Before lighting up an incense stick or any other type of incense product, make sure to read the instructions on the packaging. The instructions will usually provide information on how to light up the incense properly, how long it should burn, and whether you need a holder or not.

Use Incenses in Well-Ventilated Areas

When burning incenses, it is crucial to ensure that you are doing so in a well-ventilated area. This will help minimize your exposure to smoke and fumes that can cause health problems such as headaches and respiratory issues.

Keep Incenses Out of Reach of Children and Pets

Incenses should always be kept out of reach of children and pets. Children may accidentally ingest them or touch hot ash from burned sticks which may lead to serious injuries. Pets may also get sick when exposed to the smoke emitted by certain types of incenses.

Store Incenses Properly

To maintain their quality and prevent spoilage, store your incenses in a cool dry place away from direct sunlight. You can keep them in their original packaging or transfer them into an airtight container with desiccated silica gel packets inside.

Different types of incenses have different storage requirements based on their composition; for example:

  • Solid incense: Keep them wrapped tightly in plastic bags.
  • Liquid incensed: Stored them in glass bottles with tightened lids.
  • Powdered/incense-making materials: Keep them sealed tightly in airtight containers.

Be Careful with Incense Ash

Incense ash can be harmful if ingested or inhaled. Always dispose of it properly by using an ash catcher, and do not touch the ash until it has cooled down completely.

Choose Natural Materials

When buying incenses, choose those made from natural materials such as herbs, spices, and flowers. These types of incenses are less likely to contain chemicals like sulphur dioxide that can cause health problems when burned.

Guidelines for Burning Incense Safely

Burning incense can be an edifying and tranquilizing experience, but it is essential to do so safely. Here are some guidelines to follow when burning incense:

Never leave burning incense unattended.

One of the most crucial safety tips when burning incense is to never leave it unattended. It is easy to get distracted and forget that you have lit the incense, which can lead to a fire hazard. Always make sure someone is in the room with the burning incense or put it out before leaving.

Use an appropriate holder or burner designed for incense.

Using an appropriate holder or burner designed for incense will help prevent accidents from occurring. These holders are made explicitly for catching ash and preventing hot embers from falling onto surfaces that could catch fire. Avoid using makeshift holders like a bowl of sand or rice as they may not be able to handle the heat.

Make sure the holder or burner is placed on a stable surface away from flammable materials.

When lighting incense, ensure that the holder or burner is on a stable surface away from any flammable materials such as curtains, papers, fabrics, or shred ded documents. Keep in mind that even small pieces of ash can ignite these items if they come into contact with them.

Extinguish incense completely after use.

After using your incense, make sure you extinguish it entirely by blowing out the flame gently. You can also dip the tip of the stick in water if necessary. Do not throw away used sticks until they have cooled down completely as they may still be hot enough to start a fire.

Understanding the Risks of Eating Incense

In conclusion, eating incense can be extremely dangerous due to its toxic ingredients. Aromatic ingredients found in incense, such as benzene and formaldehyde, can cause various health problems including respiratory issues and cancer.

Pregnant women should also avoid burning incense as it can lead to complications during pregnancy. Harmful heavy metals are present in wood ash and charcoal used for burning incense.

To avoid poisoning or harm, it is important to follow proper guidelines for burning incense safely. This includes using a well-ventilated area and avoiding direct inhalation of smoke. Always handle incense with care and keep away from children and pets.

Remember that while the aroma of incense may be pleasing, the risks associated with ingestion or inhalation are not worth it. It’s best to stick to using incense as intended – for its fragrance.


Q: Is there any safe way to consume/incorporate incense into food or drink?

A: No, there is no safe way to consume or incorporate incense into food or drink. Ingesting even small amounts of toxic aromatic ingredients found in incense can cause serious health problems.

Q: Can smoking incense be harmful?

A: Yes, smoking incense can be harmful due to the toxic chemicals released when burned. Inhaling these chemicals over time can cause respiratory issues and increase the risk of developing cancer.

Q: Are there any alternative ways to enjoy the benefits of aromatherapy without using traditional incenses?

A: Yes, there are many alternative ways to enjoy aromatherapy such as using essential oils in diffusers or adding them into bathwater. You can also try enjoying the benefits of aromatherapy by burning incense sticks and inhaling the soothing incense smoke.

Q: Is it safe for pregnant women to burn scented candles instead of using traditional incenses?

A: While scented candles may seem like a safer alternative than traditional incenses, they still release potentially harmful chemicals when burned. Pregnant women should avoid burning both candles and incense to reduce the risk of complications during pregnancy.

Q: Can incense smoke cause allergies?

Yes, incense smoke can trigger allergic reactions in some people due to the presence of certain chemicals. It’s best to avoid using incensed if you have a history of allergies or respiratory issues.

Q: Are there any natural alternatives to traditional incenses that are safe to use?

Yes, there are many natural alternatives such as dried herbs, flowers, and resins that can be used for aromatherapy. Incense smoke and incense sticks are also popular options to create a relaxing atmosphere. Be sure to research and choose options that are safe for inhalation and do not contain toxic ingredients.

Q: What should I do if I accidentally ingest or inhale incense?

A: If you accidentally ingest or inhale incense, seek medical attention immediately. Symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and difficulty breathing.