How come you use charcoal in your natural incense sticks? It’s that bad for the health and the environment?

The use of charcoal in incense has been often advertised as polluting and bad for health by manufacturer of natural incense. Yet, the use of pure charcoal produces a much cleaner burn than that of wood dust or other organic material as it has already passed the phase of pyrolysis (carbonization). Charcoal is thus used in toothpaste or even as an antidote for poisoning. Wood dust has yet to pass carbonization which causes it to produce volatile gases, tars and acidic liquids while being burned. The burning of wood dust will thus dilute or change the characteristic of the fragrant substances contained in the incense. Some incense manufacturers use charcoal and mix it with chemical burning enhancers containing sulfur or nitrogen which probably gave charcoal it’s bad name, yet for people who use incense indoors and are concerned about the effect of incense smoke on their health, pure charcoal is the best choice. It reflects the fragrance of the essential oils, resins and herbs in the most authentic way.


How come my sambrani stick sometimes stops burning?

If you light the incense, it is important that you make sure the sambrani stick catches fire. Once a flame engulfs one side of the stick, let it burn for 10 to 15 seconds to build up the heat that is needed to burn the high proportion of tree resin in some of the incense varieties. If it is well lit, after extinguishing the flame, a growing circle should appear on the lit end of the sambrani.


Can incense have therapeutic value?

Yes, both the smoke and the fragrance have to be taken in account. Ambient smoke of certain herbs is believed to purify the air which indirectly relates to a good health. Additionally, aromas or fragrances are known to have an effect on the body and mind. That is because there is a direct connection between the smell sense organs (olfactory bulb) and the limbic lobe of the brain. Of the five senses, only our sense of smell is linked directly to the limbic lobe, our emotional control center. Fear, anxiety, depression, anger and joy all emanate from this region of the brain and have an indirect influence on heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, stress levels, hormone balance and memory. A particular scent or fragrance can evoke memories and emotions before we are even consciously aware of them. Our senses of touch, taste, hearing, and sight, are all routed through the thalamus, which serves as a switchboard for the brain, passing stimuli onto the cerebral cortex and to other parts of the brain.

Yet, because of the low cost and the strong smell, manufacturers and costumers are driven to still produce and use synthetic incense. We recommend reading the section: Why natural?


Why was PremaNature started?

PremaNature is a small-scale business, which treasures good human values on the work floor and traditional and natural manufacturing processes. We aim, for example, to create a work environment in which employees feel happy and free to express new ideas. Our employees feel enthusiastic to work as a team and help the organisation in any way possible. We also make sure that we know the origin of our raw material and try wherever possible to produce it ourselves, such as our cow dung powder (in the pooja sambrani series) and neem leaf powder (in the anti-mosquito sambrani).  All our research efforts are focussed on creating natural products with uplifting effects on the human body and mind.


What is wrong with burning chemical incense?

We refer to the section ‘Why natural?’. We can also recommend watching the 2015 documentary called ‘Stink!’ which deals in depth with the detrimental effects of harmful chemicals in the many products we use daily.


What is incense burning good for?

The original concept of burning incense is found in the ancient Vedic scriptures and has more an energetical aspect rather than an emphasis on fragrance. The energy release by burning certain herbs, oils and resins creates an ambience which purifies the atmosphere and uplifts the body as well as the mind. Therefore, PremaNature’s incense is created to do just that. Of course, a pleasant fragrance is also important but with regard to burning incense, the energetical aspect is the basic principle. . To create pleasant fragrances many other tools are available on the market.


Is incense burning healthy?

Health is twofold: physical and mental. Regarding the effect on the physical health, one needs to take into account the different ways of producing incense and the variety of forms and shapes. Although it has been proven that some types of incense could be harmful for the body, it should be concluded that more in depth research is needed as there are still too many variables to give a conclusive answer. In our vision one should distinguish between the amount of smoke produced as well as the origin of the ingredients used. Other variables not covered in the majority of these studies are, frequency of burning, amount of ventilation and distance to the smoke. It is well-established that essential oils do not produce the same toxic effect on the body as certain synthetic aroma oils. The mental health is also influenced by burning incense. Fragrances have a very distinct effect on the mental state as there is a direct connection from the sense organs to the brain cortex.  Fragrance can alter moods, mental states or even activate old memories. Therefore, the beneficial effects on the mental health can be manifold. There is also an argument from the Vedic tradition, the first texts which describe incense, that there are energetical benefits of burning incense that cannot always be measured with present day equipment. Finally, there are arguments that it can reduce the amount of bacteria in the air and thus purify it in a natural way.


Is incense worse than cigarettes?

To answer this question, one needs to consider many parameters. It is far too simplistic to draw conclusions from badly conducted research experiments that come up first in a Google search result. If a study concludes that inhalation of incense is more carcinogenic than smoking cigarettes, one needs to ask the questions: is it a realistic scenario to state that people inhale incense smoke in the same way as they smoke cigarettes? Also, which type and form of incense was used for the study? It is also advisable to check the background of the researchers and who funded the research to eliminate any possible bias.


What are the benefits of using incense?

The reported benefits are numerous and  often in connection to the type of fragrance and incense used. The following effects were collected from customer’s feedback:

  • Enhanced concentration with incense containing lemongrass essential oil
  • Stress reduction with incense containing lavender and chamomile essential oil
  • Improved sleep with incense containing honey and lavender essential oil
  • Reduction of headaches with incense containing peppermint essential oil
  • Deepened spiritual practice with incense containing different types of resins, cinnamon, patchouli, sandalwood, agarwood and frankincense essential oil
  • Productivity boost with incense containing vetiver and sandalwood essential oils
  • Increased mental wellness with incense containing ylang ylang essential oil and others
  • Elevated creativity with incense containing benzoin resin, vanilla and lavender essential oil
  • Purified surroundings with incense containing ghee, cow dung, camphor and benzoin resin


Are incense sticks good for you?

It all comes down to preference. In our opinion, health risks should not be considered as a deciding factor here as the research done so far still has too many grey areas and was often influenced by corporate interests. The origin of incense can be found in the Vedic texts, which are composed of ancient knowledge given by Hindu saints. In The bible and other religious texts also speak highly of the use of incense. Aside from spiritual benefits, incense is also used in everyday life to promote sleep, reduce stress or just to create a nice fragrance with a magical atmosphere.


What is the purpose behind burning incense sticks?

Incense sticks are burned to enhance concentration, reduce stress, promote sleep, reduce headaches, deepen spiritual practices, boost productivity, increase mental wellness by stimulating the production of serotonin, elevate creativity and purify the atmosphere.


How often should you burn incense?

The answer depends on the purpose of why you burn incense. As the effect of incense lingers on also after the incense has been burned, one type of incense per activity session (e.g. studying, painting, meditating, sleeping) is sufficient. However, in Vedic culture it is considered energetically auspicious for a family to burn incense every day at dusk and at dawn.


How many incense should I burn?

In the Vedic tradition pieces of incense should always be burned in an uneven number (1, 3, 5…) as  this signifies the infinite aspect of the universal energy or the soul.


Does incense clean the air?

Smoke has been proven to have a purifying function. For example, a herbal mixture known as ‘Havan Samagri’, disseminated in the air for one hour, effected a 94% reduction of the bacterial count for a duration of 24 hours.  Incense that contains this mixture of herbs or elements of it, such as camphor, sandalwood, clove, benzoin resin, ghee or honey, also has these air purifying properties.


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