Last updated: 16/10/2022

Welcome to our big incense stick test 2023. Here we present all the incense sticks we have tested in detail. We would like to make your purchase decision easier and help you find the best incense sticks for you. You will also find answers to frequently asked questions in our guide.

Furthermore, you will also find some important information on this page that you should be aware of when buying incense sticks.


  • Incense sticks can help with relaxing practices, such as meditation or yoga.
  • You should use incense sticks with caution as they can be harmful to your health.
  • Different fragrances can have different effects.

The Best Incense Sticks: Our Picks

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying incense sticks

What are incense sticks?

Incense sticks are, as the name suggests, sticks that emit a certain scent when lit. They originated in Asia and were mainly used for the worship of gods or ancestors.


Incense sticks are used for religious rituals in Asia. Here at ins, they are mostly used for relaxation and meditation. ( / Frank Mckenna)

What are incense sticks made of?

Incense sticks consist of a mixture of water, wood powder and fragrances (such as oils or herbs) that is then pressed onto a thin stick made of wood or bamboo. In some variations, the stick is omitted, so that you only have the mass that has been moulded into a stick shape. Depending on the tradition, incense sticks vary in length and thickness.

What effect do incense sticks have?

The smell emitted by the incense sticks is generally said to have a calming effect and provide a relaxing atmosphere. However, depending on the scents, each scent has very specific properties and effects. By choosing the right scent, you can create a specific atmosphere.

Type of fragrance scent effect
Lavender flowery, sweet calming, helps you fall asleep, reduces stress, good against mosquitoes
Sandalwood warm, slightly sweet relieves colds, can help with depression
Jasmine flowery, sweet can help with depression, promotes sensuality and creativity
Patchouli warm, sweet with spicy and earthy undertones can help with depression, can stimulate sexual sensation
Rose sweet, floral calming, can create a romantic mood

Why do people use incense sticks?

As mentioned above, incense sticks originally come from Asia and have always been used in a religious context. Thus, incense sticks are especially anchored in Buddhism, Hinduism and Confucianism.

Here they are used especially for offerings and worship. In the meantime, incense sticks are also increasingly found in Western countries. In this country, however, they are mainly used as a relaxation aid, e.g. for yoga or meditation.

Are incense sticks harmful to humans or pets?

It depends on the components of the incense sticks, but in general, inhaling the smoke is harmful to health and carcinogenic – similar to passive smoking. Therefore, before buying incense sticks, you should carefully consider whether the risk is worth it. If so, because you want to create a certain atmosphere or need them for religious rituals, then you can use them now and then – but with caution.

However, it is recommended to keep incense away from people with sensitive noses, such as children, babies or pets like dogs and cats.

How much do incense sticks cost?

The price varies depending on the brand, quality and quantity. Single packages can be found from 1€. You can usually find them in normal shops. If you want to order them on the internet, you should note that you will usually find incense sticks in sets.

You can find everything from 3-packs to 20-packs. Due to the large quantity, they are correspondingly more expensive.

Are there alternatives to incense sticks?

If you only want to benefit from the smell of the incense sticks and do not want to perform religious rituals, there are some alternatives that you can consider.

Alternative Brief description
Scented sachets Scented sachets are cloth bags that have been filled with a fragrance carrier. They are usually dried flower petals or herbs.
Fragrance oil Fragrance oils or essential oils are versatile. They can be used for massage, as a perfume or room freshener.
Scented candles Scented candles emit fragrances when lit, similar to incense sticks. Unlike incense sticks, no smoke is produced.
Incense cones Incense cones are almost identical to incense sticks. Instead of a stick shape, they have a cone shape.

Decision: What types of incense sticks are there and which is the right one for you?

Basically, we distinguish between these types of incense sticks:

  • natural incense sticks
  • synthetic incense sticks

In the following, we explain the different types and their respective advantages and disadvantages. In this way, we want to help you find the incense sticks that are best suited for you.

What are the characteristics of natural incense sticks and what are their advantages and disadvantages?

Natural incense sticks are made using only natural ingredients. These can be essential oils and/or herbs, for example. Some well-known brands that use only natural ingredients to make their incense are Ayurveda, Sai Baba and Holy Smokes.

  • Better for health
  • Very authentic fragrance
  • None

What distinguishes synthetic incense sticks and what are their advantages and disadvantages?

As soon as an incense stick contains a chemical substance, it is a synthetic incense stick. Sometimes incense sticks consist only of artificial ingredients, but sometimes it can also be a mixture of artificial and natural ingredients.

Because it is not clear at first glance whether it is synthetic incense, you should take a close look at the list of ingredients. But the scent is also decisive: if you feel a very intense scent that already resembles a perfume, then you can be sure that it is synthetic incense.

  • The scent is intense and long-lasting
  • Cheaper
  • Artificial ingredients are harmful to health
  • people with sensitive noses may not tolerate this type of incense, making them sick quickly

Buying criteria: These are the factors you can use to compare and evaluate incense sticks

In the following, we will show you which criteria you can use to compare and evaluate incense sticks. This will make it easier for you to get an overview and decide on a suitable and effective product. In summary, these are the following criteria:

  • Type of scent
  • Burning time of the incense
  • Effect on health
  • Quality

Below you can read what each criterion is about and find out why it makes sense for you to buy a product based on the criteria or not.

Type of scent

As mentioned above, each scent has different effects on the body. When choosing the type, you should therefore be clear why you want to buy an incense stick. For relaxation, scents such as lavender, jasmine and rose are particularly suitable, as their properties have a calming effect on the human body.

If you want to create a romantic atmosphere, sensual scents such as jasmine, patchouli and rose are particularly recommended. For depression, scents of sandalwood, jasmine and patchouli can help. Of course, it is also important to know that identical scents can vary depending on the brand and type of incense, so you should see for yourself which scent you personally like best.

The rule here is: the proof of the pudding is in the eating!

Burning time of the incense

The burning time varies depending on the length, quality and composition of the incense. On the market you will find incense sticks with an average burning time of between 20 and 60 minutes.

Effect on health

As mentioned earlier, the use of incense sticks is not very health-friendly. However, you can limit the dangers if you pay attention to the right ingredients. However, you cannot eliminate the risk completely.

The rule is: the more natural the ingredients, the better for your health.


Last but not least, the quality of the incense is important. High-quality incense sticks do not crumble when burning and do not leave a burnt smell. Here, too, you can pay attention to the proportion of natural ingredients.

Facts worth knowing about incense sticks

How do I use incense sticks?

You must first light the incense stick at the tip and after about 30 seconds blow on it lightly or waft it out so that it can burn slowly.

After that, it is useful to place the incense stick somewhere so that it does not burn. You should get an incense holder for this purpose. Alternatively, you can make it yourself by getting a small, fireproof container and filling it with sand, rice, pebbles or similar.

What do I have to bear in mind when using it?

As the use is very simple, there is not much you can do wrong.

The only important thing is that you never leave incense sticks unattended.

If you are careless, incense sticks can cause a fire.

How do I put out incense?

Normally, incense sticks burn out after their burning time and go out automatically on their own. However, if you want to extinguish incense prematurely, you have a few options:

  • Blow out the incense sticks
  • Pressing out incense sticks on a fireproof surface
  • Smother incense sticks in fireproof materials (such as sand, rice, pebbles, etc.)

What do I do if the smell is too intense?

If the smell is too intense, there is not much you can do but put out the incense and look for alternatives. There are many different brands that smell more or less intense. Here you can try out if there are brands that are more suitable for you. If after a long search you still haven’t found anything you like, it is advisable to look for alternatives to incense sticks. We have already listed these above.

Did you know that smells influence our perception the most of all sensory impressions? It’s not for nothing that there is a saying that you can’t smell someone.

Where do incense sticks come from and what are they used for?

Incense sticks have been used for ritual purposes for centuries, especially in the Asian region. They are usually lit in connection with religious festivals, worship and rituals. They bring luck and create a connection to the spirits, gods and ancestors. We have compiled a table for you so that you have further information on the topic of incense sticks in front of you at a glance.

Origin Speciality Intended use
China 5 element theory, incense paste is wrapped around bamboo sticks Harmonisation of Qi
Native Americans Herbal bundle Ritual purification, releasing the spirit of the plant
India Synthetic and natural production In connection with ceremonies
Japan Contain up to 50 components Meditation, scented parties
Tibet Without support wood, made from sacred herbs Religious occasions, ceremonies for the dead
Vietnam Often sold dyed Ancestor worship

Different uses for incense sticks

Besides the calming effect, you can also use incense sticks for other purposes. For example, they can be used as a room freshener when cleaning the house or to keep away insects such as mosquitoes. Not to forget, you can also use them for religious purposes.

Did you know that you can use sage incense to rid your home of evil spirits? In Sharmamish, white sage is the most commonly used for this purpose.

What accessories are there for incense sticks?

An important accessory for the use of incense sticks is the holder, which you should definitely consider when buying. You can find them in many different variations, e.g. as a simple and plain holder, as a bowl or as a kite.

Just have a look around in shops or on the internet – you will be amazed at the variety you can find. Boxes for storing incense sticks are also practical. They are usually made of wood and have a rectangular box shape.

Image source: / Natchaya Shw