Soothing tibetan incense sticks imbued with sweet lingering jasmine

Perfect Mix of subtle earthiness and fresh crisp scent

versatile aromatic yet light cedar incense sticks

Delightfully subtle and pleasant earthy fragrance from Kewra flower

Subtle yet rich clean burning sandalwood incense sticks

Deeply pacifying yet crisp jasmine incense sticks

Rich floral lavender incense sticks punctuated by earthy undertone

Full bodied earthy nag champa incense sticks with soft, airy undertone

Crisp and Lively Sweet smelling rose incense sticks

Pleasant sandalwood aroma spiked with sharp saffron complexity

Light and airy yet crisp rosewood incense sticks

Bringing hard to find, high quality incense sticks to our customers is the core mission of incense boutique.  Our journey began when we ourselves realized just how difficult it is to reliably procure high quality incense sticks in the United States.  Even in densely populated urban areas, it is difficult to simply find incense sticks let alone clean burning sticks of top quality.  

We invite you to try our current handmade, India-sourced offerings of traditional indian and tibetan incense sticks exclusively found in select boutiques around the world.

our incense sticks are made for those with the discerning PALLET, who understand the mental, THERAPEUTIC, spiritual and aesthetic benefits of using high quality products.  By providing both traditional tibetan and indian incense sticks we seek to provide our users with a diversity of wonderful options for their incense needs that fit the modern context.     

Burning incense sticks is an effective way to beat stress, encourage balance, and breathe new life into old routines.  In the hustle and bustle of modern society, it can be challenging to make time for ourselves and escape from the busy pace of everyday life.  Burning incense is a pleasant sensory experience that people have valued from time immemorial, and the practice is being revived more and more as people realize how important it is to attend to often neglected aspects of wellbeing, such as mental and spiritual clarity.

Burning incense has a salient impact on our environment and surroundings. The fragrance of incense sticks changes our emotions, perception, and moods. Incense sticks can energize, relax, and harmonize. The resins and botanicals in incense help us to reconnect with nature and plants as a vital life source.  We can activate visual, olfactory, and auditory awareness by accentuating incense use with ambient lighting and soothing background music. The stimulating and invigorating effects certain types of incense sticks may be helpful in fortifying our overall potential and energy when we are weak, discouraged, or fatigued.

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Incense has been employed for medicinal and aromatherapy purposes since ancient times. Burning incense sticks frees fragrant chemicals into the air and has a pharmacological effect when inhaled. Incense burning was used successfully to alleviate respiratory illnesses, muscle tension, rheumatism, pain, and insomnia. People have also used certain types of incense as a disinfectant, such as lavender incense during childbirth. Incense burning is even more advantageous when accompanied with other therapies, such as massage, color therapy, and psychotherapy.

Stick incense is derived from many different global and cultural traditions (i.e. Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Tibetan, etc.). The individual recipes, appearance, and names of stick incense emanated from the complex social, medical and spiritual practices of those who created it. Therefore, stick incense is considered a very broad, umbrella term and could never sufficiently describe all varieties. To help clarify expressions, one must start by grasping the basic types of stick incense and the two fundamental categories: cored stick and solid cylinder incense.

Cored stick incenses are formed when incense dough is rolled around a narrow bamboo reed or it is dipped into paste. The amount of time the incense will burn depends on the density of the core, with thicker cores lasting longer. The aromatic smoke emitted will encompass the smell of the burning core, which is usually bamboo. Cored stick incense is typical of Indian and Chinese varieties.

Solid cylinders may also be called spaghetti stick incense. Like the name suggests, these incense sticks are solid all the way through and do not have a central bamboo core. They can be either smooth, skinny, spaghetti-like sticks or denser hand-made cylinders depending on the country of origin.

Varieties of Incense Sticks

Joss sticks are synonymous with incense sticks. The term joss was historically used by the Chinese in reference to their sacred idols. A Chinese shrine is called a joss house and joss sticks are the incense offerings burned inside of the shrines. In modern times, joss is usually used as a synonym for the word incense (i.e. joss sticks, joss coils, joss cones, etc.). The phrase "joss stick" may actually refer to many different kinds of incense sticks.

The practice of burning incense in the Orient is ancient. Over time, the name joss stick has been used in a multitude of ways by different cultures. There is no standard definition for joss stick and its meaning is derived by its local meaning.

Many, many varieties of incense available

Hand dipped incense sticks are incense sticks with a core of bamboo (masala sticks or plain blanks) that are immersed in natural essential oils or synthetic aromatic liquids. Agarbatti means incense stick, and is a compound word: "agar," meaning incense and "batti," meaning stick. Agarbatti incense sticks are customarily made with a central bamboo stick. Agarbatti is what most incense users equate with Indian incense.

Dhoops are compact incense sticks and are produced to different size and width specifications.  The two common forms are rigid dried out incense sticks or pliable logs and cylinders. Dhoops do not use a stick at its center.  Many dhoops contain extremely concentrated aromas and emit a lot of smoke when burned. Dhoop sticks and logs are most typically featured in Indian rituals. The most famous dhoop is likely Chandan Dhoop. It is made with a high concentration of sandalwood.

Masala incense sticks are a South Indian concoction with several intricate parts. Flowers, resins, herbs, granulized wood, and gums are mixed into a semi-liquid cocktail that is then rolled manually over bamboo sticks.

There are two main types of Indian incense: masala and charcoal. Masala incenses are composed of dry ingredients and charcoal incenses include liquid scents. There are different subsets of masala incense:

Production of incense sticks in India

Masālā is a Hindi word that means "spice mixture." It is typically used in reference to curries or other culinary dishes. Masala incenses are manufactured by mixing multiple dry scented ingredients into dough and then rolling the dough onto a core stick of bamboo. Masala stick incenses usually are composed of minimal or no liquid scents (which can vaporize or vanish over time).

Durbars are a subset of the masala category incense. They usually are made up of ingredients that are uncommon in the West and embody very intricate scents. They typically burn very slowly and emit rather sweet and spicy aromas. Durbar incense sticks feel soft because they contain solid and liquid aromatics in a binding agent that remains moist.

Champas are a subclass of the durbar variety. They incorporate an organic ingredient native to India called "halmaddi". Halmaddi is a gray, viscous resin extracted from the Ailanthus Malabarica tree. Its aroma is reminiscent of plumeria flowers. In India, Plumeria flowers are called champa, thus inspiring the name of the type of incense. Halmaddi absorbs the moisture in the air, often causing champa incenses to have a damp feeling to them. Nag Champa is one of the most popular incenses of the champa variety.

Senko is the Japanese word for incense. Senko sticks are not made with a central bamboo stick. These incense sticks are typically narrow and smooth, like spaghetti.

Simpoi incense sticks are a Tibetan variety, mainly composed of Deodar Cedar.  Simpoi sticks lack a central bamboo stick. Tibetan stick incense is usually hand-made and packed densely.

How to Use Incense Sticks

Lighting an incense stick with a lighter

Incense Sticks burn easily by lighting one end, waiting several seconds until the tip glows brightly, then gently blowing or fanning out the flame with a stiff sheet of paper or feather.

The incense stick must stand in a fire-proof incense burner such as an incense bowl or cup packed with rice, sand, or sea salt. You can use any fire proof container filled with ash, including a ceramic cup, metal bowl, or soapstone dish.  The burner should adequately accommodate the thickness and length of the incense sticks.

Incense Stick Composition

Bamboo is commonly used for incense cores (and for feeding cute pandas!)

Most incense sticks are made with combustible punk sticks (similar to those used in fireworks) and fragrance oils. Many of the components are derived from natural materials. The punk sticks may be imported cheaply from China and are generally composed of bamboo. The upper part of the stick is covered with a sawdust goop made of machilus hardwood which is absorbent and porous and known to maintain fragrance well. Charcoal is also used as a base to make the absorbent punk stick, and it is more commonly found in incense sticks from India.

Market testing for Incense Sticks

Incense production is grounded almost entirely on fragrance. Incense manufacturers diligently monitor popular trends in fragrances by procuring samples from the perfume industry, crowdsourcing through surveys and communication with customers, and by tracking those fragrances that are found in detergents, air fresheners, and fabric softeners. When a new smell seems promising for inclusion in incense sticks, sample incense sticks are field tested to verify and experiment. New incense stick concoctions are selected based on the results of the extensive testing.

Mass Producing Incense Sticks

Bundles of punk sticks are delivered to factories with each holding approximately 100.  After cleaning with a sophisticated vacuum system, bundles are divided according to fragrance. Throughout the process dust must be carefully contained and controlled.  The fragrances are blended from a sophisticated mix of ingredients.  The punk sticks are then treated with the fragrant mixture and allowed to dry.  They are then carefully sealed away.

The Future for Incense Sticks

The methods for incense production have not changed much over time though the assortment of fragrances available has changed.  In the past, only naturally occurring materials were included but modern technology has enabled the development of synthetic fragrances which have made their way into incense scents available.

The frequency of use of incense sticks is highly variable by culture.  In India and the East, it is common for several incense sticks to be burned every day at home, whereas, in America, incense users generally burn incense sticks much less frequently. Natural incense may have a future advantage over synthetic air fresheners as trends toward holistic natural living continue to take hold. The increasing popularity of meditation, yoga, and aromatherapy in an increasingly stimulated Western world in need of relaxation bodes well for the increased use of natural incense sticks for therapeutic benefits.

Meditation and Incense Sticks

Incense sticks are frequently used either in meditation or to prepare an area for meditation practice.  Once the brain associates the meditation practice with the aroma of incense sticks, an important associative trigger has been established.  The brain can spring into action once it senses the aroma and ready itself for the practice.  This subtle priming by the incense stick aroma get's the mind in a certain zone where it has been conditioned to better focus.  As such, incense sticks can be an integral part of preparing a meditation space.  The amount of incense stick to burn depends on individual tolerance.  Experimenting a bit is the best way to figure out what  works well for each one of us.  Many people and cultures regularly perfume areas used for meditation by burning incense sticks.    

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Incense sticks can also be burned during the meditation session itself.  Incense sticks are particularly popular for use in mantra-based meditation where the mind's focus is pinned to the mantra and is less sensitive to the subtlety of the other senses.  As such, incense stick burning can be found in Vedic and other types of mantra meditation practices.

The use of incense sticks pervade Buddhist ritual practice.  Outside of most Buddhist temples there are incense sticks burning freely,  The burning of incense sticks in Buddhism can have different meanings, ranging from an offering to the Buddhas, offering to Buddha, sangha and Dharma and as symbols of unity in itself. 

Incense Sticks in the Household

Incense sticks have very popular use within the household.  Incense sticks are often lit and carried throughout the rooms of the house to spread the aroma.  Burning incense sticks within the house is often associated with purifying the area.  Purifying the rooms of the house with incense sticks can take different forms depending on the culture.  It can range from chasing away evil spirits, to seeking divine blessing to merely prepping the space in accordance with cultural and religious custom.  The aroma from incense sticks also brings aromatic conformity to the space and can be a useful mental relaxation trigger telling the brain that we are home.  

Incense Stick Holders

There are a diverse range of incense stick holders available ranging from the inexpensive to the expensive.  In India, silver incense holders depicting religious scenes or sculptures are very popular.  They serve to function as both a pretty ornament and as a means to deepen the spiritual connection.  Very simple stone or wooden incense sticks can hold anywhere from one to several sticks.  Many incense holders have spaces to collect ash as the stick burns but the more simple ones do not and can be a little more challenging to deal with from a waste management standpoint.  In any case, incense stick holders of all shapes and sizes and costs are available for use.  One could also go the route of forgoing an incense sick holder and simply holding the stick in hand and walking.  This approach requires a little more patience and attention to the residual stick left after burning as it could potentially fall to the floor.