Catholic incense

Does anybody know what type of insense is burned in mass? I was looking for the name of it if possible.

Every parish purchases its own incense. There are literally dozens of types and brands. Many parishes use more than one brand during the course of the year. You would have to ask the sacristan, MC, or priest at your parish.


The preferred incense is “frankincense.” It’s globs of resin from a tree found in Africa and Yemen. (There are also closely related trees found in India and other countries.)

You are allowed to use other kinds of incense for Mass, but that’s the preferred one because it’s part of what was used in the Temple. It’s also the healthiest kind, because it is very low in irritating particulates when burned in a thurible with natural charcoal. (If the frankincense and charcoal are pure. And if it’s not lit with lighter fluid, which creates particulates.) Frankincense is soothing to throats when breathed, which also makes it a better idea for churchgoers, choirmembers, the priest who’s chanting, etc.

There are various kinds of church incense, though. The Eastern traditions include all sorts of incense, including rose-based ones. I gather that white copal resin, from Mexico, is also pretty popular (and low in particulates).

Incense smoke symbolizes prayer rising before God. It should have a “sweet smell.” Other than that, you’re pretty free. (But if you get one with a lot of sawdust or other fillers, you will get a lot of particulates and nasty gunk. Generally the stuff in hippie shops is just sawdust with perfume poured over it, then formed into sticks – yuck!)

The Temple recipe, from Exodus 30:34-35:

“Take sweet spices, stacte, and onycha, and galbanum, sweet spices with pure frankincense (of each shall there be an equal part), and make an incense blended as by the perfumer, seasoned with salt, pure and holy.”

It depends on where they buy it.

We buy incense that does not have the wood fillers in it from an Orthodox supply company.

Yep, there are some good companies out there. You just have to poke around. (And if you like the incense at Mass somewhere, ask the church staff about it!)


In my limited Incense experience, I find the Eastern Orthodox to have the best incense.

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This is the best I’ve ever used

Give them a ring, someone in the parish office knows. I’m sure the supplier will be glad to ship you out some.

A friend of mine who is now deceased, was a brother cab driver of mine back i the 1990’s, used to burn incense in his cab. He always bought his off of Nation of Islam guys that used to sell it near the garage.

I’m in Canada. We usually order ours from a religious supply store. We get this one

Preferred by whom? That is strictly a matter of opinion. Many priests dislike frankincense. The Church does not state anywhere that frankincense is “preferred,” and frankly, most parishes do not use it.

My wife and myself use to burn incense when we prayed together.

In a small space like a room in a house, we found it to be more irritating to us than beneficial.

We leave it to the Church to use incense.


I only use this one called Three Kings Pontifical blend. I get it here Three Kings Pontifical Incense - Shop St. Jude Church Supplies

Someone in the comments section at the St. Jude shop says that this is the incense used at the Vatican. I’ve never been to the Vatican so I can’t vouch for that, but it does smell like the one my church uses. It is mild and has never given me a headache.

My method is to put layer of salt on top of the charcoal as a buffer and the Three Kings Pontifical has never smelled burnt. (I tried one from a local Catholic shop but it smelled burnt and not as nice, too perfumey)

Thank you guys for your replies, what i ment to say was i needed the peble or granuald stuff that you can stick in a bowl, like the same stuff that the priest use during mass that sit in a cup and burn off when they swing it up and down.

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