Incense and Essential oils are as different as they are similar. They are both forms of alternative medicine with long rich cultural histories. Incense runs as far back as Egypt, Greece and Rome.
In the fact, the word incense comes from the Latin word "incendere" which means to burn. In Ancient Egypt, sorcerers employed the use of incense for spiritual and practical uses. They used incense to repel evil spirits and to kill insects. They also used incense during meditation and rituals because of its mythical properties. Ancient Egyptians also used incense to counter bad odours around them.
Resin balls which are a type of incense have been found in Egyptian tombs alongside an Egyptian incense burner that dates as far back as 7th century BC. Research has shown that incense was being used in the 24th century BC. The Ancient Chinese dynasties have documents detailing the use of incense made from roots, herbs and plants in 2000 BCE.
This shows that incense has a long and rich cultural history. The people of Babylon and the Indus Civilization also used incense for several reasons. After this, the use of incense spread to East Asia then India and eventually the rest of the world.
Incense is made from herbs, resin, roots, plants, seeds, flowers and a combustible base. It is an aromatic biological material that releases a pleasing odour when it is lit. Incense has pragmatic, spiritual, religious, mythical and aesthetic value.
There are mainly four types of incense
1. Incense Cones
Incense cones are incense tightly packed in the shape of a cone. This type of incense is very concentrated. It is not as popular as its counterpart, incense sticks, however, it has its own special advantages.
2. Incense Sticks
Incense sticks are the most popular example of incense. They are perfectly suited for beginners. In fact, incense sticks and incense balls were the first versions of incense created. The wood is usually bamboo, sandalwood or cedar however there are several options available for its wooden core.
3. Incense Powder
Incense powder is the closest to raw incense. Incense powder is incense before it is made into a sticky, dough-like consistency. Incense powder can be great for those who want to make and experiment with the production of incense sticks in the comfort of their own home.
4. Incense Coils
Incense coils are great for larger spaces because of their shape and how they circulate the smoke.
Essential oils on the other hand appeal to two senses. They appeal to touch and smell. Unlike incense which mainly appeals to smell, essential oils can be perceived, ingested and rubbed. Essential oils are extracted from plants.
They are compounds that are created to capture the essence of the plants hence the name essential oil. Essential oils are produced through distillation or cold pressing. They contain chemical compounds from plants which often appear in oil form.
Use of Essential Oils:
2. Some users add them to food, drink and household cleaning items.
3. Essential oils can be added to cosmetic products they are not like cosmetic products.
They are not pure chemicals rather they are sourced from plants. Essential oils are an integral part of folk medicine. They have been in use since the 12th century according to documents. Essential oils were used as a branch of alternative medicine.
Perhaps you've been able to draw some similarities between essential oils and incense already because they are quite similar. In fact, you can use essential oils to produce incense sticks if you do not have access to incense powder.
Similarities between essential oils and incense:
1. They are both forms of alternative medicine.
2. They are both used in aromatherapy which is a form of therapy that uses aromatic compounds to influence and increase healing.
3. They are both useful for practical as well as spiritual purposes.
4. They both have very similar ingredients involved in production.
5. Both can be released into the air. Incense through burning and essential oils through distillers.
Differences between essential oils and incense:
1. Their method of production is very different. Essential oil favours distillation while incense favours the powdered form of the same ingredients.
2. Essential oils can be ingested while incense should not.
3. Essential oils rarely use artificial scents since the idea is to stay as close as possible to the essence of the plant while incense can use whatever artificial scent is desired.
4. Incense comes in several forms, powder, incense sticks, incense cones and incense coils while essential oils are usually always oils.
Also Read: How incense sticks are made?
Now that we know a few of the differences we can say that essential oils and incense are branches of the same tree. Their similarities are far more significant than their differences. In fact, in a lot of situations, users of incense also use essential oils. For example, in the practice of aromatherapy, they are both used. They both have several benefits you can enjoy.
Essential oils and incense are great forms of alternative medicine however incense holds far less risks. Unfortunately, essential oils have been the focus of a lot of criticism. This doesn't mean essential oils are bad but if you love essential oils but are wary of the criticisms, incense is a wonderful alternative to try.