Incense is a centuries-old aromatic tool that continues to be popular in modern times. Used in a number of settings, it is widely available in several forms. In terms of cost, it is possible to purchase commercially produced products for very little money, or to make incense at home by purchasing a few basic ingredients.
The history of incense can be traced back to ancient Egypt, where it was used in religious and spiritual ceremonies. It was also burned privately as a means of clearing the home of evil spirits and any form of negative energy. From this perspective, burning it was also seen as a means of promoting health in the family, since many illnesses were thought to be the result of demons and unclean spirits lingering in the home.
In times past, incense was usually created using elements that were readily available in the local area. For example, Native American cultures often used cedar and sage. Now, it is possible to secure ingredients to produce cones and sticks with just about any type of aroma desired.
Incense continues to be used in many religious ceremonies as both a symbol and as a means of creating an environment that is conducive to worship. Most people choose to burn sticks or cones simply for the pleasant aroma that is released as they burn. Practitioners of aromatherapy sometimes prefer to it rather than scented candles. Proponents claim that the gradual release of the scent may serve to help calm people down and connect them with their spiritual core, making it possible to release positive energy to correct many physical and emotional ailments.
It became very popular to burn incense in Western cultures during the 1960s. Readily embraced by young people who were part of the movement to return to the land, it was used at nearly any type of gathering, whether a party or a quiet evening with a romantic partner. More people became interested in making their own products at home, leading to the creation of a niche market that sold kits and ingredients to new enthusiasts.
Incense continues to be a popular way of adding pleasant scents to a home. Various types of burners are available for both cones and sticks. Many of the traditional scents, such as sage, cedar, and sandalwood, remain popular, but have been joined by such perennial favorites as jasmine, bayberry, and cinnamon. Commercial products can be purchased at most supermarkets and drugstores, while hand-made sticks and cones can be found at many flea markets and through online stores.