Type of Incense used at Mass?

Hi everyone,

My brother is in Iraq for a visit (he’s working in a near-by country), and he found a market where they are selling incense. Does anyone know the exact type of incense used in Catholic Masses?

Any help would be appreciated.

Frankincense is one that is used. Damascus Rose is used I believe in some Eastern Rites. There are variety of incense that are used.

Thanks for the info. He said there are like 6 different kinds of frankincense.

That makes cense. :wink:

Honestly, the Catholic stores like Leaflet Missal sell it, whatever it was, it smelled different in Church. leafletonline.com/catalog/Home/HomePage.aspx? and their variety leafletonline.com/catalog/ProductSearch/QBasicSearchResults.aspx?SearchType=_QUICK_SEARCH&Keyword=incense& .

But the person who answered you obviously is knowledgeable on this.

The Incense used at Mass will look like little beads. It is placed on a burning charcoal. It is not the powder, cones or sticks that most of us see in stores.


Here is a set for home use:


Most incenses are made of resins from trees, like frankincense. The brighter and clearer the color is, the better the fragrance. (I once bought some that smelled like all the camels of Ethiopia had visited it…)

Rose incenses and such are still made with a frankincense base, but essential oils are added.

When I was in Rome I visited a clergy goods shop. I had wanted to buy “church” incense to bring home its such spiritual aroma.

The shopkeeper recommended me to buy “Pontifical Incense” from “Three Kings”. He told me it was the exact same incense burned at the Vatican in St. Peter’s Basilica (and the other basilicas in Rome). When I first burned it at home I instantly recognized the same aroma of what they burn in Rome.

I have been burning it for about a year now once a week, and I never get tired of the aroma. You can buy it online here: stjudeshop.com/product/pontifical-incense/

1 Like

Three Kings–a blend of different natural resins, including frankincense–is a very good one for home use. A little goes a long way.

I agree. I bought a box with 500 grams, and I’ve barely used a fifth of its contents. It will easily last me a few years before I move on to my next box.

Yes, Three Kings is one of the best commercially available blends, and not only for home use. It works quite nicely in church too. :wink: I far prefer it to the Pontifical Blend, which I find has a tendency to produce an acrid smoke.

BTW, if one is feeling adventurous, it’s not all that difficult to make a private blend: try 2 parts frankincense to 1 part myrrh, (personally I like myrrh and use more) and add a small measure of rose or gardenia or another floral. The hard part is crushing it, (the resins can come in rather large pieces). Best to put it in a ziplock bag, and freeze for a day or longer. Then take a hammer and pound it a bit to crush into usable beads.

Well Three Kings is a brand name. They actually have different labels or blends: “Pontifical”, and “Vatican” and one more whose name I can’t recall.

The one I use is “Pontifical”, which is what they mainly use in Rome.

I know it’s a brand name, but I thought it was also a blend. I have an old box of it somewhere, and if I can ever find it (doubtful, but who knows?) I’ll have a look at the label. What I do know is that the beads are multi-colored, and it produces a rich, pleasant smoke. The Pontifical blend that I’ve experienced has, as I said, a tendency to be a bit acrid. But normally I use my own “house blend” anyway. :slight_smile:

The box for Three Kings’ Pontifical blend is golden colored: stjudeshop.com/product/pontifical-incense/
It says “Pontifical” to the side but you can’t see it on the link’s photo.
The resins themselves are 2/3 black and the other 1/3 are golden colored, which are my favorite.

Here’s another Three Kings: the “Cathedral” blend:
It comes in a red box, and the resins are multi-colored, unlike the “Pontifical” ones.

The Three Kings’ “Vatican” blend (not shown in website) is also multi-colored, if I’m not mistaken.

Thanks … that’s it. I remember now that the box said “Cathedral.” So I guess that’s the one I like :slight_smile:

I’m looking to buy this “Pontifical Blend” from Three Kings, but I do not know how to…ignite it. Must I buy the charcoal as well or is there a way to get it smoldering by other means. Please help. Much thanks.

I didn’t notice at first that this thread is 3.5 years old! :eek: I don’t normally comment in a resurrected thread, but I will this time.

Unless you want to have lunch with the local fire warden, the charcoal would be a good idea. If there’s a Greek, Indian, or Middle Eastern shop around, they’re likely to have charcoal at what would likely be a lower cost. It usually comes in small, foil-wrapped sleeves of 4-6 coals, and will also likely be smaller in diameter. (The large coals – usually boxed and often with a 5-pointed star design – are much too big for home use and would have to be broken, which takes a bit of a practiced hand.) But beware: there are several kinds of charcoal, some of which light easily and some of which are nearly impossible to ignite without burning your fingers. Always look for the words “self starting” or something similar. If it doesn’t say it, it won’t do it.

I love when incense is used during the Mass. It is ancient and it symbolizes the prayers rising to Heaven. Incense is also meant to keep demons and bad spirits away. The spreading of the scent is also meant to provide a purification to the church.
Types in incense:

One of the main reasons the Catholic Church uses frankincense is because it was one of the three gifts given to Jesus at his birth by the Magi. Frankincense symbolizes Christ’s divinity.

Myrrh was the third gift given to Jesus at his birth by the Magi. Myrrh was also offered to Christ on the cross, and was used to anoint him after his death. Myrrh symbolizes Christ’s passion and death.


Combination Incenses
The Catholic Church may also use a specific combination of incense. In Exodus 30, God gives Moses instructions to burn incense and what to use.