Is Burning Incense Bad for You?

Incense is made of natural ingredients that is not harmful to people.

burning incense sticks

Incense is generally safe since it is made from natural ingredients. Studies show that the burning of incense that contains natural materials can calm the mind and total relaxation of the body. But in years past, it is being produced using chemicals. Is it still safe to burn incense? Let’s go and find out!

What Is Incense?

A long time ago, oil, wood, sage resins were the first materials used in making incense, but as year pass different variety of aromatic incense was made. 

Incense burning is common in religious rituals, mostly in an Asian country such as India, China, and Singapore. It is also popular in religious activities in Greece, Babylon, and Egypt. According to religious belief, incense burning is used to cast away bad spirits, but most of the time, it is used to get rid of bad odor.

Science tends to oppose that it is therapeutic and beneficial. Based on research, the direct use of lavender as a treatment for toothache is effective. But burning incense as therapy is a disaster to your lungs.

Two Types of Incense Burning     

Indirect Burning

This process of incense burning needs a different heat source in discharging the fragrance because the use of incense is raw and pure. It is a traditional method of burning incense a long time ago. Usually, frankincense and myrrh are burned this way during religious rituals. This type of incense burning is much healthier and not hazardous to people.

Direct Burning

This type of incense burning is the most popular today and consider is more hazardous to health for people who are constantly exposed. This type of incense burning is much easier than the traditional way.

Reasons Why Burning an Incense Is Bad For You

Lung problem and cancer

According to a study in a country where it is often done due to religious practices, are at higher risk of developing respiratory system-related cancer than those people who are not exposed..

According to recent research, 12 percent of people who are exposed to incense burning are at risk of having a cardiovascular problem that may result in death. Aside from that, this type of aromatherapy can cause inflammation of lung cells. In general, incense is not dangerous but if you burn it it’s another thing because when you burn it there will be a chemical reaction happen which is terrible affects our lungs.


It can trigger allergies that can cause asthma. It’s not advisable to burn aromatic incense if you are asthmatic since your airways are very sensitive especially to those strong fragrances. According to studies that children who are frequently exposed to candle and incense burning are more prone to having more asthma symptoms because of the chemical reaction.


Constant exposure to incense burning can cause chronic inflammation of the body. Inflammation happens not only in the lungs but also in the liver. The inflammation of some parts of the body happens because of the particulate matters that the body process.

Heart health

Burning incense is also a link to heart problems. According to conducted studies that more or less 60,000 Singaporean that overexpose from it because of religious rituals are at risk of developing cardiovascular-related problems. According to experts, it’s maybe because the smoke coming from the incense that can also affect the metabolism process that may result in weight loss.


Researchers concluded that burning incense can affect metabolism because of the study they conducted to a rat that is exposed to burning incense. The experimented rat lost undesirable weight but there is no evidence that it can happen to humans but the researcher believes that it can also happen to people who are extremely exposed to incense burning.

What Is Incense Made Of?

Traditional incense is made of natural products. Some companies use chemicals to make incense because it’s easier and cheaper than natural materials that cost a lot than chemical ingredients.

Some of the natural materials used in making incenses are roots and flowers. Ingredients of making incense will vary on the country where it’s manufactured.

Common ingredients are:

  • Cinnamon
  • Musk
  • Myrrh
  • Sandalwood
  • Patchouli


People burn incense in different ways. Some use incense for getting rid of the foul odor, aromatherapy, or as part of religious practice. Occasional use of incense may not pose health issues. But if you have asthma and other respiratory problem you need to stop using it.

As of today, some of the temples in India do not use modern incense because of its chemical content. Instead, they use the conventional way of burning incense.

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