Incense is aromatic biotic material which releases fragrant smoke when burned. The term refers to the material itself, rather than to the aroma that it produces. Incense is used for aesthetic reasons, and in therapy, meditation, and ceremony. It may also be used as a simple deodorant or insectifuge.
Incense is composed of aromatic plant materials, often combined with essential oils. The forms taken by incense differ with the underlying culture, and have changed with advances in technology and increasing diversity in the reasons for burning it. Incense can generally be separated into two main types: "indirect-burning" and "direct-burning". Indirect-burning incense (or "non-combustible incense") is not capable of burning on its own, and requires a separate heat source. Direct-burning incense (or "combustible incense") is lit directly by a flame and then fanned or blown out, leaving a glowing ember that smoulders and releases a smoky fragrance. Direct-burning incense is either a paste formed around a bamboo stick, or a paste that is extruded into a stick or cone shape.
At the incense factory, bundles of punk sticks arrive from a specialized supplier in China. Each bundle consists of 100 sticks. The ends of the sticks are cleaned by pounding the end of each bundle in front of a vacuum cleaner that sucks up the dust. The bundles are selected for a particular fragrance, and the even ends of the sticks, still tightly bundled, are painted with a color unique to that fragrance. The number of bundles designated for a particular fragrance is based on the popularity of the fragrance. For example, the factory may make 1,200 bundles (12,000 sticks of incense) with vanilla fragrance that is very popular; and it may make only 300 bundles (3,000 sticks of incense) in the green apple fragrance, which doesn't sell as well. After the ends are painted, the bundles are left overnight for the paint to dry.
The next day, fragrance oils are mixed, and the punk-covered ends of the bundles are dipped in the fragrance. They are again left on shelves to dry overnight. A typical incense maker may stock hundreds of fragrances, some of which contain hundreds of elements to make their perfume. Many Indian scents are complex combinations of ingredients.
The dried bundles are each wrapped in wax paper and sealed in 12 x 3 in (30.5 x 7.6 cm) ziplocking plastic bags. The bags are placed in bins. As orders are received for the incense sticks, they are individually packaged, packed in boxes made of recycled cardboard, and shipped for sale.
Religious use of raw incense stick has its origins in antiquity. The burned incense may be intended as a sacrificial offering to various deity or to serve as an aid in prayer.
Other than just the smell of the sticks there are many other aspects to burning them which give great benefits to you in the home or outside:
Reducing stress- Many people struggle with stressful jobs and lives which they may struggle to manage. Burning incense sticks, which are made of either cedar wood or sandalwood have properties which help to lower the heart rate and lower stress in those around the burning material. This is a very common use as finding things to help relaxation is something that many people look for when they are going through difficult periods of their life.
Helping with concentration- Every incense stick will have a different effect depending on what they are made out of. Incenses when burned will produce chemicals into the surrounding air that help greatly with concentration when made of certain substances. This makes it a great incense to burn when working hard or studying for a test or something else as it allows you to concentrate harder on what you are doing.
Helping with sleep– Millions of people everywhere around the world have severe problems with getting to, or staying, asleep. This is something that can be difficult to treat with medication or therapy and incense can provide great help to those who do have difficulties with sleeping.
Assisting help with Depression– Finding a way out of depression can be a horrific puzzle for many people who struggle with mental health issues. Incense may not be the cure for this, however this can be used to help relax people and try to alleviate some of the symptoms of depression by opening channels in the brain which associate with positive emotion.