Incense Sticks

Is HEM Incense Natural?

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In the United States, one of the largest brands of incense sticks is HEM Corporation, a company with numerous state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities all over India. HEM exports incense sticks, cones, fragrance candles, potpourri and other aromatic products worldwide. Is HEM incense natural, or is it a more synthetic product?

If you have ever visited India and set foot in a religious sanctuary, you must have noticed a amazing smell in the air. That is the smell of burning incense sticks, or as in India, they like to call it “agarbatti.”  

The use of incense dates back at least to the 5th century, when the ancient Egyptians used it during meditation and religious rituals. Incense was also widely used to keep away or kill insects and pests. Today, incense sticks and cones are used in many different parts of the world, especially in temples, mosques and churches.

In this article, we’ll take a close look at HEM incense, and consider whether it is natural or synthetic incense.

What is HEM Incense?

HEM Incense Set

Incense is an aromatic natural material that releases fragrant smoke when it is burned. Incense sticks and cones manufactured by HEM are made from a paste that is formed around a bamboo stick or molded into a stick or cone shape.

The paste is a combination of essential oils and aromatic plant-based materials. 

Two types of incense are commonly used: direct burning and indirect burning. Like a cigarette, direct burning incense is lit with the help of a fire and then blown out, leaving behind a gleaming ember that releases fragrant smoke. On the other hand, indirect burning incense requires a constant heat source to burn. 

These types of incense are often resin incense, and are heated with charcoal or electricity.

Is HEM Incense Natural?

HEM Lavender Incense

No, HEM incense is not 100% natural. To make things simple for you, let us explain the two types of fragrances:

Natural Fragrance

A natural fragrance contains aromatic ingredients that come entirely from a natural source. These aromatic ingredients are marked natural by the IFRA.

Natural fragrances include essential oils, absolutes and isolates from fruits or flowers. They do not contain any toxins and are considered to be safe. Here are several of our favorite natural incense sticks.

Synthetic Fragrance

A synthetic fragrance contains man-made ingredients. It contains raw materials that have been created chemically using ingredients like phthalates, parabens and petroleum. Full of toxins, synthetic fragrances can be harmful to human health. They can increase hypersensitivity, cause allergic reactions, headaches, disrupt the hormones in our bodies and, cause respiratory issues. 

Fragrances are either entirely natural, entirely synthetic, or made from a mixture of both. Most incenses lie in the “mixture” category, including HEM. The company claims that their incenses are made from “a blend of synthetic perfumes and other natural ingredients.”

This is where the problem arises. The “blend of synthetic perfumes” is sort of a disclaimer by the company that you must think twice before purchasing it.

This is not an uncommon situation, and many incense brands use the same terminology. HEM incense isn’t “bad” due to this, and is no worse than many of its competitors.

Before buying a pack of incense sticks or cones, take a look at HEM incense ingredients to check if they include toxins that might be harmful to your health. Some ingredients common amongst all HEM incense include:

  • Herbs
  • Flower and leaf extracts
  • Essential oils
  • Spices
  • Resin
  • Wood
  • Charcoal
  • Masala

HEM incense, like many incense containing essential oils, will lose its scent over time. Store it properly, and your incense will last longer.

Three Alternative Natural Incense Sticks

If you want to aim for all-natural incense, you could try one of these three options.

Shoyeido Moss Garden Incense Sticks

Shoyeido Moss Garden Incense Sticks

Shoyeido makes wonderful all-natural Japanese incense sticks. These are high-quality incense sticks, and the Moss Garden scent is delightful. The scent of these sticks is often a bit lighter and less pungent than HEM’s sticks. This is not a bad thing or a good thing, simply a difference.

Shoyeido's Moss Garden Incense 250 Sticks - Nokiba
Shoyeido's Moss Garden Incense 250 Sticks - Nokiba
500 sticks, 5.25" long, in a convenient dispenser box; Approximate burn time per stick is 30 minutes.
−$5.96 $15.99 Amazon Prime

Last update on 2024-03-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Natural Choice Sandalwood Incense Sticks

NAtural Choice Sandalwood Incense

Natural Choice Incense has been around since 1978, and has been making incense the traditional way with no chemical dipping and no synthetic oils or perfumes.

Last update on 2024-03-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Raasjee Pure Lemongrass Incense

Raasjee Pure Lemongrass Incense Sticks

Raasjee’s incense is another option for those looking for pure, natural incense in stick form.

Last update on 2024-03-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Related Questions

Q1. How Can HEM Incense Sticks Help in Aromatherapy?

A: Aromatherapy is a treatment during which many essential oils and incense products are used to cure problems like depression, anxiety, frustration, stress and fatigue. HEM incense sticks can trigger neurons in your brain during the procedure. This will provide a calming and relaxing sensation.   

Q2. What Are the Different Types of Indian Incenses?

A: There are two types of Indian incenses: masala incenses and charcoal incenses. Masala incenses are made by combining several scented ingredients into a paste. The paste is then rolled onto a bamboo stick. Charcoal incenses, mostly black in color, are manufactured by dipping a non-perfumed, unscented stick into a mixture of perfumes. 

Q3. How Should I Use a Direct Burning Incense Stick?

A:Using a flame, light the tip of the incense stick. When the tip starts to glow, blow or fan out the flame. Place the incense stick into its holder. Ensure that the holder is placed on a heat-resistant surface.


What started in 1983 by three brothers is one of India’s biggest incense manufacturers and exporters today. HEM incense is a great way to add a pleasant fragrance to your surrounding environment, but you must pay attention to the ingredients contained in it, especially if you (or your dog or your cat) are allergic to certain substances.

HEM incense ingredients are mostly natural, but it wouldn’t hurt to research about the synthetic elements before lighting up the incense in your home.