The benefits and drawbacks of burning incense

Hello everyone!

In this post, I want to talk about the benefits and drawbacks of burning incense. In our increasingly fast-paced society, mindfulness practices involving incense burning, such as yoga and meditation, are as popular as ever. For centuries, incense has been used as a part of religious ceremonies across many different cultures. 

Whether you are burning incense as an act of worship or simply to make your home smell better, you should consider whether incense smoke may be harming your health.

burning incense sticks

As a cradle Roman Catholic, I am no stranger to the smell of burning incense. In fact, incense is used several times during Mass as a symbol of purification and sanctification. The thurible (a metal censer suspended from chains) is often gold plated, combining in itself at the offering of incense the three gifts of the Magi: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

silver thurible

Today, burning incense is not just synonymous with the practices of several religions, including Buddhism and Hinduism but its use goes beyond the spiritual, as it is now commonly used. But should we burn incense at home? Is it healthy? Keep reading and find out!

Breathing in essential oils and pleasant aromas from burning incense can have various benefits, such as:

  • Essential oils like rosemary, peppermint, and citrus can improve mental cognition, clarity, and focus. 
  • Some herbs are specifically known for their ability to ease anxiety and curb stress. 
  • Incense has a reputation for being associated with yoga and meditation. 
  • Burning incense can help boost creativity by clearing and stimulating the mind. 
  • Buddhist monks have been using incense to purify their atmosphere for thousands of years. 
  • Taking in pleasurable aromas can make us happier, trigger fond memories, and boost our moods.
burning incense stick

However, recent research reveals there could be some health drawbacks. When incense is burned inside, the smoke created during this process can be a source of indoor pollutants as it produces harmful gas and particulate matter. In fact, many types of incense smoke have been found to contain carcinogens similar to those found in cigarette smoke. 

Even though some of these studies could be considered biased (paid for by tobacco companies), The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states that burning incense can, in fact, increase the risks of certain health problems. According to the EPA, the risks include cancer, asthma and contact dermatitis.

If you are using incense for the essential oil benefits, consider using essential oil diffusers or dried flower potpourri instead of burning incense. However, for some people, avoiding incense altogether may not be an option. 

Here are some steps that you can take to help protect yourself from the side effects of habitual incense smoke inhalation:

  • Burn incense in a ventilated area.
  • Always avoid direct inhalation of incense smoke.
  • Keep both lit and unlit incense out of the reach of small children and pets.
  • If you’re asthmatic or have other respiratory problems, avoid burning incense.
  • If you’re pregnant, talk to your doctor before burning incense.
  • Choose high quality organic or all-natural brands of incense.
  • Consider trying smokeless or low-smoke incense

Incense smoke, if burned regularly and in large amounts, may be bad for your health, just like inhaling any type of smoke. If you’re interested in burning incense, make sure to choose the best quality products. And follow the tips listed in this post to protect yourself from the side effects of habitual incense smoke inhalation.

Do you enjoy burning incense?  


I'm a vegan with a passion for sustainability and clean, cruelty-free products. I mainly write lifestyle, wellness and self-care articles. Since I'm a true crime enthusiast, sometimes I also write about true crime and post videos on my two YouTube channels.

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Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a comment! If you ask a question I will answer it asap. – Cosette

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