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The shocking truth about incense

While most people associate incense with a spiritual practice such as meditation or activities such as yoga or simply as a way of creating a more pleasant environment in the home, the smoke produced from burning incense is a source of positive ions.

Even worse, improperly manufactured commercial incense can contain over 64 compounds that can irritate the lungs and nasal passages (read Higher cytotoxicity and genotoxicity of burning incense than a cigarette for more information on this).

While the research suggests that incense by itself is not dangerous, it should still be used with caution. 

Here are some suggestions for safe use:

  • Only purchase hand-rolled or handmade Indian or Japanese incense since these contain the least amount of unnatural compounds and release only a minimal amount of positive ion generating smoke.
  • Open a window when you burn incense in order to keep the room well ventilated and the resulting smoke from easily reaching your face and nasal passages.
  • Keep the time you burn incense to a minimum by extinguishing the fire once your meditation or yoga session ends. A paper clip or small metal binder can be used to preserve the remaining portion of the stick until the next use. Remember to always use extreme caution when extinguishing an incense stick to avoid getting burned.

You can increase negative ions, improve your mood and concentration, create calm, and even give yourself extra energy by diffusing oils with an electric or battery-operated diffuser. You don’t really want to burn a flame to diffuse oils because remember burning anything indoors increases positive ions which you don’t want.

Want safer incense? I love Low Smoke Japanese incense. I’ve tried just about every scent and I love them all.

If you like burning incense, you have some options:

1. Avoid burning the incense that generates too much smoke or generates breathing problems (list below)
Use a hot oil diffuser to create a wonderful sense in your home. They don’t create smoke or generate any positive ions.

2. Only select hand Rolled Japanese incense such as Nippon Kodo Kayuragi Agilawood which is available on Amazon. It usually produces the least amount of smoke. Incense sticks are usually much smaller and so the exposure is limited as well.