Incense or Sage: Which Is the Right Option for You?

When it comes to choosing between incense and sage, the decision can be a difficult one. Both have their own unique benefits and drawbacks, and it can be hard to decide which is the right option for you. Here, we’ll take a look at the pros and cons of each so that you can make an informed decision.

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Incense itself is a spiritual and ceremonial item that’s burned for a wide variety of reasons. These reasons can range from spiritualistic rituals to simply wanting the house to smell better. Unlike sage, incense is often used on a regular basis, ranging from daily usage to a couple of times a month.

Incense Pros

Like sage, incense may be used to cleanse the area of negative energies and offer a reset on how you’re feeling. But incense is a very overarching term and can relate to a wide variety of scents. Other scents offer different benefits, such as:

  • Energy
  • Focusing
  • Protection
  • Relaxation
  • Spiritual connection
  • Romance

It’s also relatively easy to pick up incense at a wide variety of different stores now. While it may not be in every bix box retailer, there’s a good chance you’ll find one at Whole Foods or even possibly a Walmart near you.

You also have the option of incense sticks, cones, or powder to fully customize your incense-burning experience. You’ll place any of the three in a holder and let them burn for anywhere from 30 minutes to 90 minutes.

Incense Cons

Even though you’re not holding incense as you would sage, you’ll still need to keep an eye out for it while it’s burning. Not all incense sticks burn the same and even scents can play a part in how the incense burn. Ensure you keep a cup of water nearby at all times in case you need to dunk the incense or pour water on it.

You will need to buy an incense burner to properly burn incense in the home. When you burn incense, they often leave ash and residue. Without that incense holder, you could be looking at a relatively large pain of a clean-up process.

Incense does typically produce more environmental waste as well. Between the plastic packaging that the majority of them come in as well as the leftover sticks, your environmental impact will go up compared to sage.


Sage, often referred to as sage smudging, is a spiritual practice of cleansing a room or house of negative energies. Thought to have originated in Native American cultures, the act of smudging uses the sage leaves and lets the smoke created waft through the home to cleanse. Though smudging may consist of different types of herbs and plants, this article will only pertain to sage.

Sage Pros

Sage is the single, dried-out ingredient involved in a typical smudging ritual. This cuts down on the number of preservatives and additives that may be added to incense sticks to prolong their life or scents.

Whereas you need to buy an incense holder for incense products, you only need a way to ignite the sage initially. You should still keep a handy way to extinguish any excess flames or if the smoke becomes to abundant throughout the home.

Those who practice smudging with sage often note they have a stronger spiritual connection when cleansing. Unlike incense burning, which tends to have a passive role in the cleansing process, smudging with sage requires hands-on work to complete the ritual.

Sage Cons

Sage produces some of the most amounts of smoke of any spiritual or cleansing ritual. Because of the amount of smoke, people tend to see an increase in lung and eye irritation. It’s best to start with a small smudge stick to ensure you can handle the smoke.

Smudging with sage requires a lot of hands-on activity, which may not be suitable for those who like to use the cleansing time associated with smudging or incense for other activities. If you’re going to burn sage, you’re going to need to follow through as if it were an activity, rather than a passive ritual.

Using sage isn’t necessarily the easiest to grasp for beginners. Even when walking through guides on the internet, it’s not the easiest to understand and can lead to more of a defeated outlook on the act. If possible, get into contact with someone you know who burns sage or start small to get the hang of it before burning larger sage sticks.

Incense vs. Sage: Which Should You Choose?

Everyone will their own preference in the long run on whether to choose incense or sage. But you can use these recommendations below to determine if incense or sage aligns better for you.

Best for Beginners

Ultimately, we believe incense is the best option for beginners who want to try and cleanse the negative energies throughout themselves or throughout the home. The hands-off approach allows users to experience the positive effects of cleansing without needing to be completely present for the entire burning.

Best for Cleansing

For the best cleansing effects though, we do recommend sage smudging. The large quantities of sage burned paired with the ability to move the sage to the exact area you need throughout the home makes it the perfect way to cleanse on a larger scale.

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