Best Types of Incense to Burn – Frankincense, Sandalwood, Sage

Incense can reduce stress, calm anxieties, and help you relax. Here’s how burning incense for mediation decreases stress, plus different types of incense – frankincense, sandalwood, and sage – cleanse negative energy, ease tension, and elevate your meditative state.

Best Types of Incense to Burn – Frankincense, Sandalwood, Sage“We use pieces of frankincense on hot coals,” says Vidya Sury, who often burns incense for mediation and relaxation. “We cover the burning frankincense with a large bamboo basket and spread babies’ clothes on the basket to dry, so the smoke permeates the clothes. After a bath, there’s frankincense in the room to soothe the baby with its gentle wisps of smoke. We dry our long freshly washed hair, holding it over the smoke of frankincense.”

You might try Frankincense Essential Oil if you don’t have pieces of frankincense and hot coals. A candle and diffuser is a lovely way to avoid burning incense if you want to avoid smoke.

Frankincense for sanctification and cleansing

“My favorite incense flavors are the more traditional scents: Frankincense, Sandalwood, Patchouli, Amber, Cedar, and Sage,” says Daniel Wyker, President of Between Heaven and Earth, Makers of Ascent and Ganesha’s Garden Incense. “I also love the many temple masala blends from India, especially some of the durbars and champas.  In fact my most favorite incense of all time is a champa incense that my sister bought for me at a small temple in India 12 years ago. I have been searching for it ever since, and it has inspired my quest to produce scents that move people.”

Dan and other “incense experts” reveal their favorite flavors of incense to burn and share the specific effects of different types of incense. If you have any questions about burning incense for sleep mediation, please ask below.

The Benefits of Burning Incense for Meditation

Incense for meditation and prayer is an ancient tradition. “Incense sticks are a traditional part of our religious rituals,” says freelance writer Vidya Sury, creator of Going A-Musing. “In my home, we burn  incense sticks (or joss sticks) of different fragrances. Our favorite flavors of incense are frankincense, sandalwood, roses, lavender, Michelia Champaka and jasmine. In fact, we make pot pourri from champaka petals.”

Frankincense for centering and purifying

“Sometimes, if the atmosphere of the house feels ‘heavy,’” says deTraci Regula, author of The Mysteries of Isis: Her Worship & Magick. “I will use a purifying incense – usually Frankincense and/or Myrrh, both of which have ancient origins and are believed to purify and sanctify a space. The Fred Soll company has a pure resin stick incense which combines them both, and that’s my preference.”

Incense for meditation and centering prayer

“Frankincense is the original incense; in fact that’s where the word incense comes from. The effects of burning Frankincense are uplifting, centering and purifying with a warm sweet aroma. It’s one of the best scents for creating a meditative space.”

Both Frankincense and Myrrh are types of incense that have been burned throughout the ages. The type of incense you prefer to use as a mediation for sleep depends on what scents relax and calm you.

Sandalwood for grounding and relaxing

“Sandalwood has been used in incense for at least 4000 years for good reason,” says Dan. “Its effects are both grounding and euphoric promoting a sense of well being and relaxation with a woody, sweet and exotic scent that wraps you in peace and harmony.”

Mindfulness meditation has become an increasingly popular way for people to improve their mental and physical health, yet most research supporting its benefits has focused on lengthy, weeks-long training programs. The good news for sleep mediation is that new research shows that even just 25 minutes of mindful meditation for three consecutive days alleviates psychological stress. You don’t need to burn incense or meditate every day…unless of course you find it’s the natural remedy for sleep you’ve been missing!

6 Different Types of Incense for Sleep Meditation

Different Types of Incense for Sleep Meditation

Different Types of Incense for Sleep Meditation

Nag Champa, Sunrise, Sandalwood, Midnight, and Patchouli, and Celestial by Satya.  Many people burn incense to relieve stress and tension, because the scent of burning incense doesn’t just affect moods and spaces, it changes them.

Cinnamon for balancing emotions

“Supposedly the only substance whose scent arouses most males is that of cinnamon, which is often a component in mixed incenses,” says deTraci. “For women, jasmines and roses scents are supposed to enhance the romantic mood. And 60s hippie favorite patchouli is said to work on both!”

Patchouli to lift your spirits

“Patchouli has a satisfying earthy quality that is great to balance the emotions and help you relax,” says Dan. “At the same time it energizes and uplifts the spirits. As well as contributing to peace of mind, it is a great aphrodisiac. That must be why I like it so much!”

If you’d like to use incense to spice up your love life before mediation for sleep, you may like Nippon Kodo – Morning Star – Patchouli incense sticks.

Amber for elevation and letting go (helpful in sleep meditation)

“Amber is a sweet layered scent, with spicy, earthy rich undertones,” says Dan. “Known as the “King of Scents” it will help you let go of daily concerns and enter the world of sensual arousal or spiritual elevation, depending on the intention.”

Cedar and sage for positive energy

best types of incense to burn

“Burning Incense for Sleep Meditation” photo by Maurice Koop, via Flickr CC License

“Cedar and Sage drive out negative energies, spirits and influences,” says Dan. “They have been traditionally used as a smudge to purify people and places before any sacred ceremony.  They both help with creating a meditative and relaxing space.”

If you’re thinking about burning incense for mediation and prayer, heed Vidya’s advice: “The smoke can aggravate or irritate those with respiratory problems and COPD,” she says. “So it is better to avoid lighting an incense stick/cone near someone like that. Some people develop a headache from prolonged exposure to smoke.”

Burning incense isn’t just for sleep, mediation and prayer

Incense can can become a ritual for relaxing, cleansing, and purifying your thoughts and energy. And, mediation isn’t just for relaxing! Mediation can help students focus while studying, decrease the stress medical students feel, and make you a more compassionate person.

If you burn incense to help you sleep, make sure you don’t leave it burning all night long. The last thing that’ll help with mediation for sleep practice is a fire.

Do you have trouble sleeping? Read Acupuncture for Snoring – A Natural Remedy for Good Sleep.

What do you think about burning incense for sleep meditation? I welcome your comments below…

Source of the mindfulness mediation for sleep: Just 25 minutes of mindfulness meditation alleviates stress – a Carnegie Mellon research study.

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Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen
Shalom! I can't give you advice, but please feel free to share your thoughts below. I'm a writer in Vancouver; my degrees are in Psychology, Education, and Social Work. I live with my husband, two dogs, and cat. We can't have children, and we trust in God's love, grace, and wisdom. Jesus said, "Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest." - Matthew 11:28.

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6 Responses

  1. Laurie says:


    It’s great to hear from you! I hope this finds you well, and thank you for your tips on burning incense for meditation, relaxation, and sleep. Your handmade incense stick sounds lovely, and much nicer than artificial room fresheners.

    In peace and passion,

  2. Vidya Sury says:

    How nice to read this post, Laurie! I fondly remember those days when you were working on it.

    The market is now full of so many “homemade” and “organic” incense that can be used in various way, it is mind-boggling! I now use a very mild handmade stick that burns for a long time and leaves a very gentle fragrance in its wake. After we sweep and swab our home we light frankincense in a holder and carry it around and let it fill the rooms with its natural aroma.

    Much better than artificial room fresheners.Essential oils are also an excellent idea – without the irritation of smoke!

  3. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen says:

    Thanks for your comment, Jessie! I haven’t burned incense for years, and have yet to figure out what the best type of incense to burn is. I don’t like smokey scents, but do like vanillas and musks.

  4. Jessie says:

    We burn incense every night, while we say our prayers. It doesn’t matter what flavor or smell the incense is…we just love the ritual of lighting it, and praying while the smoke rises to the heavens.

  5. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen says:

    I’ve never liked incense, though my hubby used to burn it all the time! Until I came along :-)

    But, in writing this article, I learned that there are gentle, soft, comforting incense sticks and cones that are nicer than others.

    I’m with you on the essential oil burners, Sydney. I used to burn one in the bathroom all the time, until I ran out of essential oil! Must restock soon…

  6. Sydney says:

    I’m a big fan of aromatherapy for it’s mood-enhancing benefits and simply for the smell of it. I’m sensitive to smoke and find that burning incense irritates me, but I’ve discovered essential oils which are wonderful. The higher quality brands can get expensive, so rather than using them straight from the bottle, I fill the little bowl on the oil burner with water first and then add a few drops of oil. I love the way it makes my home smell long after the candle has burned out.

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