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The Kin Premium Incense Collection - Incense Sticks

The Kin Premium Incense collection is a collection of incense exclusively blended and hand-made in small-scale studios using carefully selected natural ingredients. Part of the collection is created in our our studio, and part of the collection hand-selected from other high quality studios. There are no artificial ingredients or enhancements.

This section is for incense sticks from the collection.  


A collection of handmade, all natural incense

The Kin Premium Incense collection is a brand new collection of incense, all exclusively hand-made in small scale studios. Many are blended and made in our own studio, the remainder are created by experienced local Chinese artisans that we know and trust.

Like all of our products, the Premium Incense collection is rooted in traditional Chinese incense culture, dating back thousands of years. Part of the collection closely follow traditional recipes from the archetypal Chinese incense book History of Incense《香乘》, written almost 500 years ago in the Yuan dynasty; these we call the Re-interpreted blends. Part of the collection are our own creations, using ingredients and blends with modern, non-Chinese influences – these we call the Imagined blends. We recently made a new addition to the collection, with a focus on precious single scents like aloeswood (otherwise known as agarwood, oud or jinko) – these we call the Classic single scents.  

All of these incense were selected after months of blending and trialing, products of much sweat and love.

The perfect accompaniment for all your daily rituals

The Kin Premium Incense collection contains no artificial ingredients or enhancements. They are made from all natural ingredients we hand selected, chosen because they were the best quality ingredients we could find whilst keeping final prices reasonable. The binding powder used is Indonesian nanmu powder, a wood-based binder that is the binding agent used in all Chinese incense, and where the Japanese makko or tabu no ki powder derives from.

Due to the superior quality of the raw ingredients, our incense sticks and cones will burn for a longer time than other comparably sized incense sticks. For example, many of the full length (21cm, 8.25 inches) incense sticks will burn for an hour or longer.

All of the Kin Premium Incense are carefully enclosed in Wutong wood boxes painted with traditional Chinese red ink. Wutong is a type of wood popular for storing incense in East Asia, due to its superior anti-mold and anti-moisture properties.

Indulge in a stick of natural incense, gift yourself a moment of calm.

Welcome to Kin
Our home, Your home

What is incense?

The English word “incense” derives from the Latin word for “to burn”, incendēre. So in its most basic sense (no pun intended), incense is just different plant materials (or in a small number of instances, animal matter) that are burnt for their fragrant smells. This includes a variety of woods, resins, seeds, roots, leaves, flowers and some animal materials like Unguis Odoratus (a snail like marine shell). The first recorded use of incense was in China, although it was widely known to be used in many ancient cultures. In those times, incense tended to be burnt in its raw form, eg, pieces of wood, or a mixture of wood, leaves, roots etc.


Today, powders are made from a mixture of the ingredients mentioned above, mixed with a binding agent (we use a natural wood binder called Nanmu, known as Makko or Tabu No Ki in Japanese) and water, and then made into various shapes with the most popular being sticks. The incense stick (or whatever other shape its in) can then be directly lit.

What is incense used for?

Incense was a huge part of life in the ancient and medieval world. In medieval China, incense accompanied every aspect of life for intellectuals, officials, and the imperial family. They would wear incense in pouches on their belts, fan themselves with incense fans, dry their clothes over large incense burners, bathe in incense-infused water and wear incense-infused make up… not to mention have a lit incense burner in every room. Incense not only made life more pleasant through its fragrance, Traditional Chinese Medicine believes it has significant health benefits and helps with focus and relaxation. Today, we know from scientific research that the various ingredients of incense (such as sandalwood) have proven health benefits.


In recent years, incense has been making a “come back” into our daily lives for these reasons. Many people light an incense to accompany meditation, yoga, reading, or some quiet work time. Incense has also retained its use in religious and ancestral ceremonies all around the world, and you might often see them in large temples, shrines, as well as homes of friends who retain a small shrine.

Is incense bad for you? Is incense toxic?

After reviewing the academic research on this topic, our conclusion is that high quality natural incense, when used in moderation in a home setting, poses minimal health risks. We found a succinct and helpful summary posted on the Australian Government Cancer Council website about this precise question, so if you’re looking for a quick answer, we highly recommend it. We also wrote a fairly lengthy article on this specific topic, which includes links to a number of prominent academic studies in this area. If you’ve got the time, we also recommend that you check it out, and follow the links to read some of the studies yourself.


It is true that the burning of incense – like many other things we burn - releases chemicals into the air. These include Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), Volatile organic compounds (VOCs), particulate matter (PM), among others. But to date, no large scale studies have conclusively shown that moderate incense use at home releases the level of chemicals required to significantly affect a person’s risk of cancer. Our understanding is that all these chemicals exist in the air from many natural and industrial sources, and most of us live with some daily exposure to them in the form of car exhaust, dust from construction, factory emissions, natural fires, etc... Most governments regulate the level of these emissions, and set a level below which they are considered tolerable for general human health.


However, we do believe these chemicals are detrimental to health if they are inhaled at large quantities and for a pro-long period of time. This is especially the case if the incense has synthetic additives. So for temple workers or nearby residents, there can be significant health effects. We do not recommend anyone be exposed to incense on an ongoing basis in this way without protection.


That is not to say we shouldn’t all exercise moderation and take some common sense precautions when burning incense at home. We would suggest using high quality, natural incense as much as possible. And while the incense is burning, keep doors and/or a window open, ventilate the area regularly, and keep the incense some distance away from your face. You can also consider running an air purifier. We do all of these things when we use incense. Additionally, exercise caution to not start a fire, and take precautions to allow your pets to move around if you have any (see more details about pets in the section below).

Is incense bad for dogs? Is incense bad for cats?

There are no studies on the effect of incense smoke on dogs and cats, so we cannot conclusively say either way. What we believe is that whatever considerations we have for humans (the details of these are in our full article: Is Burning Incense Bad For You?) we also apply to our own fur babies, with a couple of distinctions. The first is that they are smaller and weigh less than humans, and the second is that they are much more sensitive to smell than us. Our educated guess is that this means a given amount of incense smoke would have a greater effect on our dogs and cats than on us. So there is a chance that what is perfectly tolerable for an average human is irritating for a small dog or cat.


We believe the sensible thing to do (and this is what we do) is to keep any lit incense some distance away from our pets. For example, I generally light my incense on the window seal, while my dog sits by my foot at my desk, so she is at least 6-8ft, or 2-3m away from the incense. I also keep the door to the room open, so the area has proper ventilation, and if she doesn’t like the incense I’m burning that day, she can freely go out of the room. The same applies to our cat. This arrangement has worked pretty well for our family, and most of the time our dog sits pretty contently by my side.

What benefits do incense provide?

Incense has been used throughout history for spiritual and wellness purposes, and we believe that moderate use of incense has many benefits.Many traditional medicines, including Traditional Chinese Medicine, treated incense as an integral part of their preventative and healing systems, and today, we know from scientific research that the various ingredients of incense (such as sandalwood) have proven health benefits. Below are some ways that we believe incense help with our holistic wellbeing:

  • Aids relaxation, reduces stress and alleviates anxiety
  • Improves quality of sleep
  • Increases focus, which can also improve creativity
  • Many incense ingredients also have antiseptic and insect-repelling properties


With a more relaxed and focused state of mind, we believe that our immune system would likely be stronger, and we are less prone to a whole host of acute and chronic diseases. This is definitely the case from our personal experiences.

Is it safe to burn incense indoors?

We believe burning a moderate amount of high quality incense in a home setting indoors is mostly safe. For a more detailed discussion of safety as it pertains to respiratory diseases, cancer and other negative health effects, please refer to the question above “Is incense bad for you? Is incense toxic?”


For the issue of safety as it pertains to potential fire hazards, we also believe the risk is minimal provided some basic precautions are taken. For example:

  • Please ensure you put the incense on a surface that is heat-resistant, and no flammable items like curtains or books are near where the ashes can drop
  • Please ensure that you do not leave the incense unattended
  • Please place incense out of reach of children or pets
  • Do not touch remnants of the incense right after it has finished burning. Also do not touch metal parts of the incense burner right after burning. Both of these may still be hot. Give them several minutes to cool down

Should I open a window when burning incense?

While we believe that high quality natural incense, when used in moderation in a home setting, poses minimal health risks, we also believe that it is sensible to take some precautions and to keep the area for burning incense well ventilated (for more details, please refer to the question above “Is incense bad for you? Is incense toxic?”) We do sometimes open a window when we burn incense (but not so much that all of the incense smoke flows directly outwards, and we are left with no scent), but this is just one of the ways you can ventilate the area. Other alternatives including keeping the door to other rooms open, or using an air purifier. As long as you are taking some precautions to keep the air to the area flowing, you do not necessarily need to open a window.

How do I know if my incense is good quality?

While most sources on the internet would say good quality = 100% natural, we believe it should go beyond that. It is very simplistic to boil quality down to just this one thing – for example, if we randomly throw together a bunch of herbs and spices from the kitchen cabinet, and heat this mixture up with charcoal, would we consider this good quality incense? It’s certainly 100% natural.


All natural should absolutely be the foundations of a good quality incense, and you should check this carefully. However, there are other important elements to consider:

  • The aroma of the incense – this is the most important element (although somewhat subjective), an incense cannot be considered good quality unless it has a smell you enjoy
  • How quickly the aroma spreads and how long it lasts for
  • Related to the above two elements, are the quality of each natural ingredient – for example, various grades of aloeswood (based on its oil content and formation location) can have a significant impact on the final aroma and its ability to penetrate and linger, and therefore the quality of the incense


It can be tricky to truly know the quality of an incense stick, as the judgement of smell also comes from experience. As you are still acquiring this experience and knowledge, there are a couple of simple signs you can check for:

  • Whether it has a center stick, and what the stick is made of – if all other ingredients are of equal quality, I would opt for an incense without a center bamboo stick. The stick releases a smell that disrupts the blend of aromas from the other ingredients, and has no significant benefits that I’m aware of. On rare occasions, the center stick is made from sandalwood, in which case it would be a high quality incense
  • The burn time of the incense – incense with higher quality ingredients will burn longer than lower quality incense of the same length/size
  • For Handmade incense, the smoothness of the stick – incense burns better and releases a better blend of aromas if all the ingredients are processed into a fine powder before blending. If the incense shows clumps, this is a sign that the scent will be uneven, and the incense may not even stay lit

What type of incense lasts the longest?

All else (shape, length, thickness) being equal, an incense with higher quality ingredients will burn for longer. This became extremely noticeable when we started making our own handmade incense. A handmade full length (21cm) incense stick (with ingredients that we select) burns for up to 50% longer than regular store-bought incense of the same length and thickness.


Of course, if you are wondering about burn time related to the shape of the incense, that’s a different matter. Coil incense burns by far the longest as it is also literally the longest incense due to the circular coils. Length is a pretty reliable indicator of burn time but thickness is not, as the entire cross-section is burning at any one time and it may not necessarily take longer to burn through the thicker stick.

How do you light an incense?

You light the tip of the incense with a flame until it catches fire, allow it to burn for a few seconds, then gently fan out the flame, ensuring that a glowing ember remains. This may need to be repeated several times if the first time doesn’t work. For more details, we have a thorough, step-by-step article to guide you. Once properly lit, place the incense onto the incense holder. Keep the incense and burner on a surface away from wind or sudden air movements (windows, fans, AC, etc).

How do you respectfully put out incense?

There are typically two situations where incense need to be put out. First, when an incense stick is first lit and has an open flame. This open flame needs to be put out, leaving a burning ember in order for the incense to continue burning. In traditional Chinese and Japanese culture, you should not blow on the flame with your mouth to put it out. This is because the mouth is considered impure, and incense is an offering to the heavens. You can wave your hand around the flame, or move the entire incense stick from side to side to put out the flame.


The second instance is when you need the incense stick to stop burning, ie, put out the ember. Typically, in traditional Chinese culture, incense sticks are allowed to burn their full length once lit, and it is rare to stop an incense stick half way. However, if for a particular reason this needs to be done, you can cut off the tip with the ember with metal scissors, allowing it drop onto a fire-proof surface, or pinch out the ember with large metal tweezers. Alternatively, some long term users of incense simply pinch the tip with their fingers and put out the ember this way. (They say it's not hot!) In general, we would recommend breaking or cutting your incense beforehand into smaller pieces if you do not intend to burn through the full stick. This way, you can allow each piece of the incense to burn continuously in its entirety without needing to put it out halfway.

Why do Chinese burn 3 incense sticks?

There are actually a variety of different explanations for this, and some of the most well known are listed below. I think we can see though that regardless of religion or explanation, the practice of using three incense sticks is entrenched in Chinese culture, and considered a show of respect, whether it be to deities, the heavens, or to certain practices regarded as sacred.


In Daoism, a classic line from The Book of The Way《道德经》states: “One births two, two birth three, three gives birth to all” (一生二,二生三,三生万物). So the number three actually symbolizes “all” in Daoism, and an offering of three incense to the deities is therefore considered an abundant offering.


In Buddhism, the three incense represent the thee pillars of Sila, Dhyana and Prajna, (meaning right conduct, meditation/concentration, wisdom; in Chinese: 戒、定、慧 ). The first incense for Sila is placed in the center, followed by Dhyana on the right, and Prajna on the left.


The third explanation is unrelated to religion. The three incense sticks are considered offerings to the heavens, the earth, and the people, (天、地、人) in this order.

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