7 Ways To Distinguish Natural And Chemical Incense

The market is flooded with all kinds of incenses, and every merchant insists that their products are absolutely natural, but the truth is, it is flooded with chemical incenses.

Along with the continuous improvement of times, the quality of life is improving day by day, and incense has become popular in many cities. Culture of incense is like a dusted pearl, gradually returning to people’s sight. People’s use of incense is no longer limited to religious items, but more of a living goods.

Natural incense sterilizes, purifies the air, refreshes the mind and brain, and incense’s presence can be said to be ubiquitous… So, since the use of incense is closely related to our lives, then choosing a purely natural incense that is beneficial and harmless to the body becomes the top priority.

I will sort them out today and teach you how to distinguish between natural and chemical incense.

1. Raw Smell

Pick up and smell a Natural Incense before it is burn, and you can hardly smell anything. There will only be a touch of wood scent at most. The real natural incense is made of natural wood such as: Sandalwood, Agarwood, and Chinese medicinal materials. Natural plants will only emit a faint scent when not burning at high temperature. For example, fresh roses will only emit a faint, slight scent; while the rose essence of laundry detergent emits an unchanging strong scent.

Chemical Incense emits a strong scent before it is burn. Due to the addition of artificial essence in chemical incense, it already emits a strong scent without burning at high temperature. For example, shower gel, shampoo, etc.

2. Scent after burn

The scent of Natural Incense is fresh, has a mellow taste, and emits natural scent. You won’t feel dizzy or mouth parched and tongue scorched after long-hours of smelling. On the contrary, because it is made from various natural herbs, sandalwood or agarwood, its medicinal properties enter the human body as the scent volatilizes in the air, and effectively achieving a certain health preservation effect.

Natural Incense produce a faint scent
Natural Incense produce a faint scent

Chemicall Incense is strong, single, monotonous, and emits a strong scent. It might cause headaches, dizziness, and dried throat after long-hours of smelling. There are many cancer-causingcheap essences in the market that contains strong carcinogenic substances such as formaldehyde, benzene, benzopyrene and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Long-hours of smelling such incense products might have the chance of getting cancer.

Chemical Incense contains various chemicals
Chemical Incense contains various chemicals

3. Hand Feeling

Natural Incense is made of natural wood and ground herbs. Plants contain fibre, so the body of the incense made will be rougher, and feels grainy to touch. Especially for the compound incense made from a variety of raw materials, it is more obvious that the incense body has many different colour components.

Natural Incense feels rough
Natural Incense feels rough

Chemical Incense uses a single raw material such as cheap wood chips, plus artificial essence and chemical glue, therefore the incense body is very smooth and clean.

Chemical Incense looks smooth and clean
Chemical Incense looks smooth and clean

4. Colour

Natural Incense is made of natural plants or wood, therefore the finished incense has a natural wood colour, such as dark brown or original wood colour.

Natural Incense woody colour
Natural Incense woody colour

Chemical Incense can use various colouring agents to formulate various beautiful colours. This is kind of similar to the principle of differentiating mushrooms, i.e. the brightly coloured ones are poisonous.

Chemical Incense is colourful
Chemical Incense is colourful

5. Lasting of Scent

The scent of Natural Incense can last for a long time, especially the relatively high-end agarwood oil, which can even last for 2-3 days in a relatively small confined space, and this is not an overstatement. In some spaces, due to all year round of burning agarwood incenses, the scent will stay on the wall for a long time, to the extent that you can smell the scent even when no incense is burn.

Chemical Incense is generally added with artificial essence, and the scent disappears as the incense went out.

6. Layering

Natural Incense is constantly changing, especially the scent of agarwood is full of charm, rich in layers, and even a variety of different scents such as flowers and fruits scent can be found. The scent of high-grade agarwood will change differently at different distances.

The scent of Chemical Incense is stereotyped and single, the scent is monotony, and it keeps emitting a relatively strong scent.

7. Pricing

Natural Incense is made of Sandalwood, Agarwood, and Chinese medicinal materials, therefore the price is usually slightly higher. Looking at the price is the easiest and direct way of identifying.

Chemical Incenseis generally made of cheap wood chips, chemical glue, and artificial essence, therefore the price is relatively low.

8. By Looking At The Incense Ash

The ash of Natural Incense is smaller than the incense body. The incense made of natural raw material will shrink significantly after burning at high temperature.

The ash of Chemical Incense does not shrink significantly after burning. Basically, it can be concluded that this incense added things that are not supposed to be added, such as mountain flour, soil, sodium silicate, chemical glue, etc.

Natural Incense ash breaks easily while Chemical Incense not
Natural Incense ash breaks easily while Chemical Incense not

9. Temperature of Incense Ash

Natural Incense does not contain gunpowder or lime, therefore the burned incense ash will not be hot, at most only slightly hot, but it will not scald, caused blister, and that it will quickly go out when it drops on other objects.

The production of Chemical Incenseusually adds lime and gunpowder, therefore the incense ash dropped on the back of the hand will cause a tingling burning sensation, and that when the burned incense tip touches other objects, it will not be put out easily. The incense ash colour is uneven and dull.


How to distinguish between natural and chemical incenses? To put it bluntly, you need to smell and read more. Rather than mere paper talk, it is better to see the real thing and compare different incense shops’ products with general cheap incenses. Only through learning, experiencing the real natural incense, accumulating experience, and do more comparison that you will slowly know how to distinguish them…

Burning Chemical Incense over the long time is not good for body. By just following the 9 ways above, you can distinguish between Natural Incense and Chemical Incense, discover the incense that suits you. Happy Incense Burning!

Want to understand more about Incense? You might want to check out our Incense articles below.

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