How to Burn Incense: Best Herbs and Resins to Use

how to burn incense

Whenever you feel energetically stuck, uninspired, just too tired, or in need of a cleanse, you probably think of burning incense. This is a common practice and can be extremely effective if performed right. However, some knowledge about what herbs or resins to burn for each of these purposes is ideal. With proper knowledge and intention, the effects of your incense-burning sessions will be stronger and more lasting.

Do you burn random herbs and hope for the best? Keep reading and make your incense rituals more effective.

How to burn incense properly

Typically, incense consists of ground herbs, woods, and resins. When you burn them, these components release smoke. This smoke will emit vibrations that may vary depending on the specific ingredients.

If you’re wondering how to burn incense cones or how to burn incense sticks, you simply light them in the proper heat proof container and wait until they catch fire. Then blow them out and you should be good to go from here.

loose incense bowl

But, if you’re wondering how to burn loose incense, you will need a piece of charcoal and a heat-proof container, like a small, heat-proof, ceramic, or metallic bowl. The process is quite simple: you just have to light your charcoal and let it burn for a couple of seconds. Once it is gray around the edges, you can sprinkle your incense on it.  At this point, an amount equivalent to a pea is enough. Once it is consumed, you can add more incense. The piece of charcoal will burn for around 20 minutes but will remain hot for hours. You can add new batches of incense from time to time and enjoy it longer.

Take into account that resins will burn longer than herbs. Also, be careful to never manage burning charcoal or the hot container with your bare hands. To light the piece of charcoal, use a wick or do it with the help of pliers, tongs, etc.

You can burn incense to boost your rituals or to set the ambiance for your everyday activities. But did you know that different herbs and resins promote different kinds of energy?

Herbs and resins for every purpose

herbs for incense

Every plant, wood, resin, and herb releases its own kind of vibrations. You can use these vibrations for your benefit if you choose and combine incense components in an informed, yet intuitive way. To help you with that, here are some widely used herbs and resins and their magical properties. 


Cedar is a name given to a series of trees and bushes. Their wood releases wise, protecting and purifying vibrations. Therefore, it is used both for purifying and driving out negative energies and for bringing in positive influences. You can use it to protect places, people, or objects. For example, you can use it to bless a new house. If you are decluttering your space, you can also burn it as a ritual to let go of the lingering energy of old objects. Also, if you like to buy antiques, cedar is recommended to cleanse these items from the energy of their previous owners.


Rosemary is also for protecting and purifying. Additionally, it can lift your spirit and that of others. Therefore, this herb is recommended for fresh starts. If you are about to embark on a new path, exploring a new course of studies, or trying to break an unhealthy habit, try burning rosemary. It will not only help you let go of old, stagnant, energy. It will also help you walk this new way with a light, happy heart.


If anxious thoughts are preventing you from sleeping, mugwort can help! Burning some before sleeping will help you sleep calm nights. But this herb has other properties that relate to sleeping in other ways. If you burn mugwort with intention, it can induce prophetic dreams and visualizations during your sleep.


Burning juniper will make you more comfortable at home. It raises your vibrations and brushes out negative energies, leaving you with a cozy feeling. You can also use it in incense mixes to invigorate your body if you feel especially tired. If, in turn, you use burning juniper during your meditations, it works wonders for the opening of the third-eye chakra. Use it to set intentions and to sharpen your receptivity to Spirit.


Frankincense is the dried resin of Boswellia trees. It has been used for healing and meditation since ancient times. It is especially known for its cleansing and protecting properties for the soul. Thanks to these properties, it has become of high importance in various religions. Nowadays, it can be used not only for cleansing and protection, but also to help calm a racing mind. If you would like to try meditation but it is hard for you yet, burning frankincense will help

resin for incense


Myrrh is the dried resin of a Middle Eastern shrub. It has also been used to a great extent throughout history. Egyptians, for example, used it for healing. Nowadays it is used to achieve enlightenment in meditation. Though this is no easy endeavor, the burning of this resin can help you clear the path to achieve it. You can also use it to promote the energy of happiness, transformation, and stability.


Sandalwood is widely used in incense sticks due to its delicious aroma. But using some sandalwood in your incense mix will generate grounding and centering vibrations and help you clear your mind. As a note, make sure your sandalwood is ethically sourced. While Indian sandalwood is endangered, non-endangered Australian sandalwood can be easily found.


Burning rose petals is an effective way of enhancing romance and attracting love. As opposed to other uses of this plant, burning it retains its love-attracting properties. When used for everyday burnings and ambiance setting, it invites loving and calm energy in. When burned for meditation, rose petals encourage peace of mind and induce the mental state required for meditation.


Dried lavender flowers promote peace and happiness. They are mostly used to encourage restful sleep and a relaxed environment. Lavender can be burned as an alternative supplement for the treatment of depression, grief or anxiety. It is also burned during meditation to aid mind opening.

What to avoid when burning incense

incense to avoid

When preparing an incense mix, it is very easy to fall into cultural appropriation if research is not conducted properly beforehand. For example, burning sweetgrass without knowing its Native American origin and use can be disrespectful and even harmful to this culture. The same is valid for copal in Mexican culture.

Likewise, you can be harming the environment if you buy endangered species for burning. Did you know sage and Palo Santo are endangered as a result of their social media exposure? Just make sure to research properly before buying random herbs or resins to burn, and avoid cultural and environmental damage. Ethically conducted rituals go smoother and will bring the right energy into your life. As for safety, please avoid leaving your incense unattended. If you burn it in fire-safe containers and surfaces, the risk is lower, but never zero. If you burn sleep-inducing herbs, like mugwort or lavender, make sure there is no active heat before you go to bed.

Make sure your charcoal is designed for incense burning and use a wick or a lighter that can be managed from a certain distance to avoid burning your fingers or clothes. Lastly, burn your incense away from papers, plants, or any other flammable elements. This can be dangerous for you and your home.

Do you burn incense regularly? Let us know what herbs or resins you love the most in the comments!

1 comment

  • April

    Thank you so much for your help. Now I know what to buy. I burn rose and lavender I am constantly antagonized and attacked. I am a healer medium empath and white Angel. I need help in how to protect myself. Thank you for all the knowledge I prayed for you and your information. Ty for finding me. Love and light to you

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