The power of aroma can change your whole day. Much like good music that can soothe your anxious thoughts. Or a beautiful sunrise that can uplift your mood.
Our sense of smell is a robust instrument that can influence the way we live each day.
Incense sticks are burned for thousands of years for both religious and spiritual purposes. Likewise, essential oils have been used in aromatherapy for immediate benefits like uplifting the atmosphere, calming the environment, and others.
Where incense sticks are burned, essential oils are used via various kinds of diffusers.
Therefore, before knowing what is best for you, it is important to know the difference between incense sticks and essential oil diffusers.
What is Incense?
Incense is an aromatic biotic material that gives out fragrant smoke when burned. Typically, incense is made up of various fragrant materials together with flammable binding material.
Further, incense comes in different forms and sizes. These include incense sticks, joss sticks, cones, coils, powders, rope, rocks/charcoal, and smudge bundles.
Accordingly, a typical incense stick consists of :
- 21% (by weight) of herbal and wood powder,
- 35% of fragrant material,
- 11%adhesive powder, and
- 33% bamboo stick
Thus, an incense stick has a slim bamboo base onto which the above-mentioned incense ingredients is attached.
These are made by first soaking one end of the bamboo stick in adhesive materials. It is then coated with a mixture of fragrance, herbal, and wood powders. After repeating the process two or more times, incense sticks are then dried in the sun.
Benefits of Burning Incense
There are a host of benefits of burning incense. Some of these include:
- Increased concentration during meditation
- Driving away negative energy
- Helps to calm down, relax, and reduce stress and anxiety
- Prevents your mind from worrying and regulates racing heart and breath
- Induces mindfulness, abundance, and spirituality
- Increases creativity and improves mental health
- Induces sleep
- Uplifts mood as its therapeutic properties increases mood hormone called serotonin
- Increases sex drive
Is Incense Bad for You?
Some studies emphasize the possible risks for human health. As per these studies, burning incense indoors results in increased levels of chemicals called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).
These are the same carcinogens heavily present in tobacco smoke along with other chemicals which increase the risk of cancer.
However, the mere presence of PAHs in incense smoke does not mean that people carry a higher risk of cancer.
Much also depends on how much of it is consumed. Does the burning of incense sticks produce these chemicals in a quantity that is sufficient to increase cancer risk?
Although the biggest study conducted showed that people who consumed incense sticks extensively had twice the risk of cancer. However, the results of the study are not very strong.
Still, one could consider burning incense stricks in environments with good ventilation to avoid such risks.
What is an Essential Oil Diffuser?
Another way of harnessing the power of aroma is by using essential oils aromatically through diffusion. Now, there are various methods used for spreading or diffusing the aromas of the essential oils. One of how diffusion is done is through an Essential Oil Diffuser.
An Essential Oil Diffuser is a device that disperses the essential oils so that their aromas fill your environment with their natural fragrances.
In ancient times, basic methods were used for the diffusion of essential oils. These included diffusion via evaporation, heat, and steam.
Today, we diffuse the essential oils for their aromas using various types of essential oil diffusers.
Types of Essential Oil Diffusers
- Ultrasonic Diffusers
- Heat Diffusers
- Evaporative Diffusers
Pros of Diffusing Essential Oils
Essential oil diffusers offer several physical and mental benefits. For example, these:
- Help you to relax
- Improve your concentration and focus
- Make you feel calm
- Uplift your mood
- Induces better sleep
- Help in controlling appetite
- Clear airways and regulate decongestion and mucus
- Help in providing pain relief
Cons of Diffusing Essential Oils
Although diffusing a majority of the essential oils does not carry any side effects, still some studies provide certain warnings or potential cons of diffusing essential oils.
- Essential Oils used in the higher or wrong dosage can result in tumors and other damaging changes in the body
- Not using the essential oils the way they are recommended on the label can have damaging effects. Accordingly, they can be harmful to the liver, skin, and other parts if used inappropriately.
- Similarly, there have been instances where people have developed skin allergies due to overexposure or long-term exposure to essential oils.
- Using certain essential oils releases volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These can dampen the indoor air quality, much like burning incense and scented candles.
Essential Oil Diffuser Vs Incense Sticks: What Is Best For You?
Using essential oil diffusers or incense sticks depends on the end-user and his/her intended use. In other words, choosing between the two relies on what you want.
For instance, as stated earlier, incense sticks are used for religious and spiritual purposes and in environments that are properly ventilated. This is because burning incense releases smoke and can be harmful when burnt indoors. Also, as the incense sticks burn, they consume the essential oils simultaneously. So, using incense for aromatherapy may not be effective enough.
On the other hand, the modern-day essential oil diffusers evenly disperse the aroma without wasting the essential oils in the process. Thus, essential oils are more efficient for use in therapy.
So, you can burn the incense when you want an aromatic environment. You may even use a heat diffuser for this purpose. But, if you’re looking for therapy with a pleasant fragrance in the environment, you can go for diffusing essential oils.
Rest assured, using essential oil diffusers is any day better given these are smokeless.