Is Incense Eco-Friendly? 6 Facts You Need to Know

Have you ever wondered about the impact of burning incense scents on the environment?

Burning incense is a popular practice in many cultures, but its environmental impact has raised concerns. With more people becoming eco-conscious, it’s important to consider whether using candles or fragrance oils is a more eco-friendly option for your home.

Is Incense Eco-Friendly? 6 Facts You Need to Know

Additionally, the use of frankincense trees for incense production can also have a significant impact on the environment.

The term “eco-friendly” refers to products or practices that have a minimal negative impact on the environment. While scents have been used for centuries and are well-loved by many, it’s worth exploring fragrance oils as an alternative to incense.

Additionally, using candles made from recycled materials is another way to be more environmentally friendly.

We’ll take a closer look at how incense and scents affect our environments and what we can do to minimize their negative impact. So let’s cut to the chase and find out if incense and fragrance are truly eco-friendly options for your home!

Additionally, instead of using candles, you may consider burning incense or using diffusers to spread fragrance.

It’s worth noting that some types of incense are made from frankincense trees, which are at risk of being over-harvested.

History of Incense Burning and Smudging

Ancient Origins

Incense burning, using candles and scents, is an ancient practice that dates back to the early civilizations in Egypt, China, and India. The earliest recorded use of incense was by the Egyptians, who used it for both religious ceremonies and practical purposes such as repelling insects.

The Chinese also used incense made from herbs for religious ceremonies and believed that the smoke had healing properties. In India, incense was made from frankincense trees and used in religious rituals.

Native American Tradition

Smudging, one of the Native American friendly practices, involves using natural incense sticks to purify spaces, objects, and people. It is believed that smudging with scents from sage incense sticks can clear negative energy and promote positive energy flow.

To perform this practice, an incense burner can be used to hold the natural incense sticks.

Religious Ceremonies

Different cultures use incense made from herbs and frankincense trees for various purposes, including religious ceremonies. In many religions such as Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity, and Islam, incense is burned as a symbol of offering or to create a sacred atmosphere during worship.

Some people also prefer to use friendly candles or utama spice to enhance the spiritual experience.

Meditation Practice

In recent years, many people have incorporated incense burning, frankincense, and smudging into their meditation practice to enhance relaxation and focus. Some scents are thought to have specific benefits such as lavender for relaxation or peppermint for mental clarity.

Additionally, some people also use candles and herbs during their meditation sessions to create a more calming atmosphere.

Safety Concerns

While incense burning can be beneficial in many ways, it is important to take safety precautions when using it at home. Incense burners should be placed on a heat-resistant surface away from flammable objects such as curtains or paper products.

It’s also essential to never leave an incense burner unattended while lit. Additionally, candles, frankincense, herbs, and smudging can also be used for similar purposes.


There are mixed opinions about whether handmade incense burning is sustainable or not. On one hand, some argue that natural ingredients like frankincense, herbs, and resins used in traditional incenses make them more environmentally friendly than synthetic air fresheners or candles made with petroleum-based wax.

Additionally, the use of oil to bind the ingredients together and heat to release their fragrances can also contribute to a more sustainable practice.

On the other hand, there are concerns about deforestation caused by the harvesting of frankincense and resin used in some incenses and candles. Some incense holders and packaging materials may not be recyclable or biodegradable.

Additionally, the use of herbs in incense production also raises environmental concerns.

Environmental Impact of Incense Burning

Harmful Chemicals Released into the Air

Incense burning, along with the use of frankincense resin and oil, has been a part of religious and cultural practices for centuries. Its pleasant aroma is believed to purify the surroundings and promote relaxation.

However, recent studies have shown that incense burning and burning candles can release harmful chemicals such as benzene, formaldehyde, and particulate matter into the air. These chemicals can cause respiratory problems, including asthma and lung cancer.

Indoor Air Pollution

The smoke from burning incense and candles can contribute to indoor air pollution, which can be more harmful than outdoor air pollution. When frankincense and utama spice are burned indoors, the oil and chemicals released can accumulate in a confined space without proper ventilation.

This can lead to irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat.

Environmental Impact of Production Process

The production process of incense, frankincense in particular, also has an environmental impact.

One major issue is deforestation.

The wood used to make incense sticks and candles comes from trees such as sandalwood and agarwood that are often harvested illegally from protected forests. This not only contributes to deforestation but also threatens endangered species that rely on these forests for their habitat.

Additionally, some incense and candle manufacturers use natural soy wax instead of traditional wax made from oil, which can have a smaller environmental impact.

Another issue with the production of candles and natural incense sticks is the use of chemicals in the wax melting process.

Many manufacturers use synthetic fragrances and dyes that are harmful to both human health and the environment. However, using natural ingredients such as frankincense can provide a safer and healthier alternative for consumers.

Are Incense Sticks Toxic?

Incense sticks, frankincense, and candles have been used for thousands of years for religious and spiritual purposes, as well as to freshen up the air in homes. However, recent studies have shown that some incenses contain toxic ingredients that can be harmful to our health.

Additionally, candles made from wax and scented with tree oils have also been found to release harmful chemicals when burned.

Harmful Chemicals in Incense Sticks

Some candles and incenses made from wax contain harmful chemicals such as benzene and formaldehyde. These chemicals are released into the air when the candles and incenses are burned, and can cause health problems when inhaled over a long period of time.

Additionally, some incenses are made from trees, which can also release harmful particles when burned.

Benzene is a known carcinogen that has been linked to leukemia and other types of cancer. Formaldehyde is a respiratory irritant that can cause coughing, wheezing, and other respiratory problems.

If you’re concerned about the air quality in your home, consider using natural incense sticks made from trees or candles made from wax instead of traditional air fresheners.

Natural Incense Sticks

If you want to avoid exposure to harmful chemicals from incense sticks, natural options are available. Natural incenses do not contain any harmful chemicals or synthetic fragrances. They are made from plant-based materials such as herbs, flowers, and resins.

Similarly, candles made from natural ingredients like beeswax or soy wax are also a great alternative. Additionally, spending time in nature among trees can provide a natural and refreshing scent to your surroundings.

Natural incenses and candles come in various scents such as lavender, sandalwood, frankincense, and myrrh. They provide a pleasant aroma without exposing you to any toxic substances. Some natural incenses are made from trees, adding an earthy scent to your home.

How to Choose Safe Incense Sticks

When shopping for incense sticks and candles, it’s essential to read the labels carefully. Look for products that use natural ingredients from trees rather than synthetic fragrances or additives.

Avoid products that list “fragrance” or “perfume” on their labels since these terms can refer to synthetic compounds that may be harmful. Instead, consider using natural incense sticks and candles.

Choose candle brands that use pure essential oils instead of synthetic fragrances. Essential oils are derived from plants and offer a more natural scent while providing aromatherapy benefits.

Also, consider purchasing organic or sustainably sourced incense sticks and candles. These products are made from materials that have been grown without the use of harmful pesticides or other chemicals.

Eco-Friendly Alternatives to Traditional Incense

Essential oils for a natural scent

If you’re looking for a more eco-friendly alternative to traditional incense, essential oils are an excellent option. Essential oils are derived from natural sources such as plants and flowers, making them a sustainable choice.

They can be diffused using an oil diffuser or added to water in a spray bottle for use around the home. Candles are also a great addition to create a cozy atmosphere and can be made from natural materials like soy or beeswax.

Not only do essential oils and candles provide a natural scent, but they also offer various health benefits. For example, lavender oil is known for its calming properties and can help reduce stress and anxiety.

Frankincense oil has been used for centuries in religious ceremonies due to its grounding effects on the mind and body.

Beeswax candles for purifying the air

Another eco-friendly alternative to traditional incense is beeswax candles. Beeswax candles are made from natural ingredients and release negative ions when burned, which helps purify the air by neutralizing pollutants like dust and mold.

Beeswax candles come in various shapes and sizes, including tea lights, pillar candles, and tapered candles. They can be used alone or with an incense holder specifically designed for use with candles.

Palo Santo wood for smudging

Palo Santo wood is another sustainable option that has been used by indigenous cultures in South America for centuries. The wood can be made into natural incense sticks or candles and comes from fallen branches of palo santo trees, which grow in dry forests in Ecuador and Peru.

When burned, palo santo wood releases a fragrant smoke that is believed to have cleansing properties. It’s commonly used in smudging rituals along with natural incense sticks and candles to clear negative energy from spaces or objects.

Soy wax candles as an eco-friendly alternative

Soy wax candles are another eco-friendly alternative that uses natural soy wax instead of synthetic fragrances found in traditional incenses. Soy wax is made from soybeans grown without pesticides or herbicides, making it a sustainable option.

Soy wax candles come in various scents, including fragrance oils and essential oils. They can be used alone or with an incense holder specifically designed for use with candles.

Natural Incense and Best Burning Time

Natural incense and candles are types of aromatic products that are made from plant-based materials like herbs, flowers, and resins. Unlike synthetic incenses and candles, natural ones are eco-friendly and do not contain harmful chemicals that can be detrimental to one’s health.

They are also known for their therapeutic properties and have been used for centuries in various cultures for spiritual, medicinal, and aromatic purposes.

Types of Natural Incense Sticks

There are different types of natural incense sticks and candles available in the market today. Some of the popular ones include:

  • Sandalwood: Known for its calming and grounding properties.
  • Lavender: Has a relaxing effect on the body and mind, especially when paired with candles or natural incense sticks.
  • Frankincense: Used in spiritual practices with candles to promote relaxation and mental clarity.
  • Sage: Known for its cleansing properties.

Best Burning Time

The burning time of natural incense sticks and candles varies depending on their composition. Here are some examples:

  • Sandalwood: Can burn up to 45 minutes per stick.
  • Natural incense sticks: Typically burn between 20 to 30 minutes per stick. Candles: Not applicable to the original sentence.
  • Frankincense: Can burn up to an hour or more per stick, but candles may be a longer-lasting option.
  • Sage: Burns relatively quickly, usually between 10 to 15 minutes per natural incense stick. It can also be found in candles.

It’s important to follow instructions when using natural incenses and candles to ensure safe usage and optimal burn time. Here are some tips:

  1. Use a proper burner or holder designed specifically for incenses to prevent accidents.
  2. Place the natural incense sticks holder on a stable surface away from flammable objects like curtains or papers.
  3. Light the tip of the incense stick with a match or lighter until it glows red then blow out the flame gently.
  4. Enjoy the aroma as it fills your space.

Eco-Friendly Incenses

There are several brands that offer natural incense sticks that are sustainably sourced and packaged. One of them is Utama Spice, a Bali-based company that uses only locally sourced materials to create their products. Their natural incense sticks are made from bamboo, coconut shell charcoal, essential oils, and other plant-based ingredients.

Another eco-friendly brand is Content Beauty, a UK-based company that offers a range of organic and natural beauty products including natural incense sticks. Their incenses are made from pure essential oils and come in recyclable packaging.

Eco-Friendly Production Process for Incense and Brand Examples

Sustainable brands prioritize ethical sourcing, fair trade practices, and environmentally friendly production processes. These companies understand that their products, including natural incense sticks, can have a significant impact on the environment and strive to minimize their carbon footprint.

One of the essential aspects of eco-friendly incense production is the use of natural ingredients. Sustainable brands avoid harmful chemicals in their production process and instead work with natural materials that are safe for both people and the planet. They also prioritize responsible harvesting practices to ensure that they do not damage local ecosystems or threaten endangered species.

Another critical aspect of eco-friendly incense production is waste reduction. Sustainable brands aim to minimize waste by using every part of the plant in their products. For example, some companies use sawdust from wood processing as a base material for their incense sticks.

Some Examples Include Shoyeido, Fred Soll’s Resin On A Stick, Haeckels’ Seaweed & Fennel Candle

Several companies stand out when it comes to eco-friendly incense production practices:

  • Shoyeido: This Japanese company has been producing high-quality incense since 1705. Shoyeido uses only natural ingredients such as agarwood, sandalwood, cinnamon, clove, and star anise in its products. The company also prioritizes sustainability by sourcing its materials from renewable sources.
  • Fred Soll’s Resin On A Stick: This New Mexico-based company produces resin-based incense sticks using all-natural ingredients such as frankincense, myrrh, copal resin, pinon pine resin, lavender flowers, sage leaves & needles. The company’s products are handcrafted using traditional methods.
  • Haeckels’ Seaweed & Fennel Candle: This UK-based company produces candles made from natural ingredients such as seaweed, fennel, and beeswax. Haeckels’ products are designed to be both sustainable and luxurious.

These brands are just a few examples of companies that prioritize eco-friendly production practices when creating their incense products.

The Best Sustainable and Eco-Friendly Options for Incense

In conclusion, it is important to consider the environmental impact of incense burning and opt for eco-friendly alternatives. Traditional incense sticks can be toxic and harmful to both the environment and our health. However, natural incense made from sustainable ingredients can provide a safe and enjoyable experience.

When choosing incense, look for brands that prioritize eco-friendly production processes and use natural ingredients. Some examples include Triloka, Shoyeido, and Fred Soll’s. Consider the best burning time to reduce waste.

By making conscious choices, we can minimize our impact on the environment while still enjoying its benefits with the use of natural incense sticks.


1. Are there any eco-friendly options for incense?

Yes! Look for brands that prioritize sustainability in their production process and use natural ingredients.

2. Can traditional incense sticks be harmful?

Yes, traditional incense sticks can contain toxic chemicals that are harmful to both the environment and our health.

3. What are some alternative options to traditional incense?

Some alternative options include using essential oils or diffusers, smudging with sage or palo santo wood, or using natural incense made from sustainable ingredients.

4. How do I know if an incense brand is eco-friendly?

Look for certifications such as Fair Trade or USDA Organic, as well as information on their production process and ingredient sourcing when purchasing natural incense sticks.

5. Is it better to burn incense indoors or outdoors?

It is recommended to burn incense in a well-ventilated area such as outdoors or near an open window to minimize indoor air pollution.

6. What is the best burning time for natural incense?

The best burning time varies depending on the type of natural incense being used but typically ranges from 20-60 minutes per stick.

7. Can natural incense be harmful to pets?

Yes, certain ingredients in natural incense such as essential oils can be harmful to pets. It is recommended to research the ingredients and consult with a veterinarian before use.