If you’re in a hurry and just want to know which sandalwood incense would be the best, then I would recommend,Minorien Fu-in Byakudan Japanese incense sticks, as your best choice.
While not very strong, this scent is very recognizable. If you’ve ever smelled sandalwood, you know that there are few scents comparable to its warm, velvety smoothness. So it can be disappointing to buy new sandalwood incense only to smell something totally different from what you are used to.
In this post, I want to share what I consider to be the best sandalwood incense that you can buy for a reasonable price.
You don’t have to settle for stinky sandalwood incense. Let’s take a look at some of my favorites.
My Top 5 Picks For The Best Sandalwood Incense
Sandalwood can be found in resin form, as incense power, wood chips, or as an incense stick, cone, or coil. My top picks below are all sticks and cones.
As always, you want to light incense in a well-ventilated area on a fire-proof surface using the appropriate burner for the type of incense you have.
1. Subtle, Low Smoke Option: Shoyeido Overtones Sandalwood Incense Sticks
Quantity: 35 sticks
Length: 8.75 inches
Burn time: 50 minutes
Shoyeido is increasingly my favorite incense brand. This particular sandalwood is part of their Overtones series. It produces a soft, earthy, authentic sandalwood essence that hardly produces any smoke and is made with few ingredients.
There aren’t any synthetic oils or fragrances, nor are there any animal byproducts or testing.
I should note that this formula does include benzoin, which is a resin with a sweet vanilla scent. Benzoin shares many of sandalwood’s benefits, like assisting with blood circulation, protecting wounds, reducing stress, and helping with digestion.
Additional spices have been added, so it isn’t solely sandalwood but sandalwood is the dominant scent.
- Made with simple ingredients
- Clean, pure burn
- Long lasting burn
- Pure scent, no bamboo core
- Fewer sticks for the price
2. Cleanest Scent: Nippon Kodo Kayuragi Sandalwood Incense Cones
Quantity: 12 cones
Height: close to 3 inches
Burn time: 9 minutes
*Includes a mini metal incense holder
Incense cones are small but mighty. They’re like a concentrated form of incense sticks because all of their fragrance is condensed into a small mound without a wooden core.
These cones by Nippon Kodo are part of their Kayuragi line. This means they were created to be observed as well as experienced by scent. As you inhale the calming fragrance, smoke slowly unfurls and gently dances around the room.
Unlike most woods, sandalwood does not have a heavy, woody scent. These incense cones are a reflection of the subtleties of sandalwood.
Cones are also an option for days when you want to light incense for a shorter period of time. Instead of having to wait thirty minutes to an hour for it to finish smoldering, a cone goes out in under ten minutes. But although incense cones do not burn as long as sticks, their fragrance is strong and continues to linger long after they’re reduced to ashes.
- Packaged for gifting
- Saturated fragrance
- Easier to clean up
- Made using high quality ingredients
- This set is a little expensive
3. Most Ayurvedic Inspired: Simply Vedic Sandalwood Incense Sticks
Quantity: 135 sticks
Length: about 9 inches
Burn time: 30-45 minutes
*Includes an incense burner
A traditional agarbatti with a bamboo core, Simply Vedic incense sticks are hand rolled with raw materials and natural extracts. These give off a smooth, sweet sandalwood scent, and they burn evenly for a decent amount of time.
If you are interested in Ayurvedic medicine or engage in a dosha-led lifestyle, you might be pleased to know that Ayurvedic practitioners help formulate products created by this company.
Simply Vedic incense is chemical-free and charcoal-free. Since it isn’t tested on animals and doesn’t include any animals byproducts, it’s technically vegan. Also, you won’t find any sulfates, parabens, or other toxins in their products.
- Made with raw materials
- No harmful chemicals
- Decent amount of sticks for the price
- Smooth sandalwood scent
- Some customers feel that the smell is inauthentic
4. Most Authentic Fragrance: Minorien Fu-in Byakudan Japanese Incense Sticks
Quantity: 65 sticks
Length: 5.5 inches
Burn time: 30 minutes
*Includes incense holder
I’ve been told that sticks that burn for thirty minutes are the perfect meditation timer. It’s enough time to fill the space with a pleasant scent and send up prayers through the tranquil smoke.
Minorien’s incense sticks offer the clean, subdued fragrance of pure sandalwood. In keeping with Japanese tradition, there isn’t a bamboo core, but this box of incense includes a stand that is perfectly sized for these extruded sticks, which is really convenient.
Since this company imports their sandalwood from India, it is true sandalwood and Minorien does not dilute it with additives, chemicals, or dyes. It smells like fresh, sweet, moist sandalwood chips when lit. You won’t even smell other spices or raw ingredients, only sandalwood.
One translation for Fu-in, is “wind traces” in the Japanese language, which describes how a person can feel after fully experiencing this incense. Lighting incense and taking a moment to inhale and observe the smoke can potentially be a deeply spiritual encounter.
- Packaged for gifting
- Most authentic sandalwood scent
- All incense, no wooden core
- Perfect burn time for meditation
- More expensive (but high quality brand)
5. Best Value Budget Option: HEM Precious Chandan
Quantity: 120 sticks
Length: 9 inches
Burn time: 30-40 minutes
*Includes and incense burner
If you burn incense regularly, it’s kinda hard to get around trying HEM incense at least once in your life. They are not the purest brand out there, but HEM is a major Indian exporter, so they can’t be ignored altogether, either.
While their formulas are non-toxic, some of their scents are made in fragrance labs. In Sanskrit, sandalwood is called chandanam. The reason I chose their Chandan incense sticks over their regular sandalwood ones is because Chandan is made with Indian sandalwood.
This bundle includes six individual boxes, so you can either store some for later or effortlessly share them with family and friends.
HEM makes charcoal-based incense sticks on a bamboo core that also incorporates floral, resin, and herb powders, and in this case, Chandan bark powder and essential oils. While sandalwood is the strongest scent, additional resins are noticeable along with hints of vanilla.
It’s a really pleasant incense that’s complex without overburdening olfactory senses, it just isn’t solely sandalwood.
- Complex, delightful aroma
- More value for the money
- No harmful chemicals
- Uses Indian sandalwood
- It’s a sandalwood blend
- Stronger scent
The Most Precious Sandalwood
Sandalwood has a far more detailed past, but I will cover a bit of its history below as well as all the benefits it offers us.
A Little History About Sandalwood
This sacred wood from the Santalum genus of trees produces an aromatic fragrance from its heartwood that is smoky, creamy, and floral all at the same time. Its complexity and depth complements many other fragrances, but it stands well on its own in terms of fragrance and benefits.
Primarily grown in India for centuries, sandalwood varietals can also be found in other parts of Asia, Australia, and Hawaii. Sandalwood trees like dry soil and grow slowly, requiring at least fifteen, but closer to thirty years of growth before they can be harvested. Its value increases as the tree ages. If a sandalwood tree is harvested after sixty years, its heartwood oil is immensely more expensive.
Although there are over ten sandalwood species, Santalum album is considered true sandalwood and is primarily grown in India, but this genus has also been planted in Australia in recent years. Santalum spicatum, a lesser quality sandalwood, is harvested most in Australia and is sometimes used in place of true sandalwood.
Indian sandalwood is the source used most for incense and perfumes, and it has historically been used to construct temples, furniture and religious objects.
Because it has been in great demand for so long, Santalum album is endangered in India and efforts have been taken by the Indian government to protect it and regulate its exportation. This is why the species has increasingly been grown in other countries, like Australia and parts of tropical Asia.
Are There Benefits To Sandalwood?
Sandalwood oil is extracted from trees using a steam distillation process. Safe to use both internally and externally, it is extracted as an essential oil, added to other ingredients in paste form, and used as an emulsion.
In the past and present day, sandalwood is added to lotions, cosmetics, hair care products, deodorants and even mouth fresheners due to its antiseptic properties; it’s also a natural astringent.
Still used in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine, sandalwood is known to relieve digestive issues and help regulate blood pressure when taken internally or inhaled as incense. Sandalwood can also reduce fevers and reverse the effects of antibiotics overdose.
Applied as a paste to wounds, skin conditions, and insect bites, sandalwood is anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, and anti-bacterial. Its oil can relax nerves and muscles, reducing spasms.
Sandalwood is a versatile and valuable wood that has helped heal the mind, body, and spirit of humans for centuries. At the same time, you’ll want to consult with a medical professional or Ayurvedic specialist before using sandalwood to treat any medical conditions.
Are There Benefits To Burning Sandalwood Incense?
Burning sandalwood incense can be a calming and enjoyable experience that helps you feel good both inside and out.
Sandalwood is used for direct and indirect incense burning in order to cleanse the air to make a space more sacred in preparation for prayer rituals. When inhaled, it is deeply relaxing and can help pull a person into deeper meditation.
As A Sleep Aid
In India sandalwood incense is burned in preparation for bedtime, unusually about thirty minutes beforehand. It helps calm and soothe a person so much that they might experience better sleep once the stick has finished burning.
Always make sure that the stick is completely done smoldering before going to sleep, though. You might want to keep a small cup of water near the incense stick. Once you are ready to fall asleep, dip the tip of the glowing incense stick into the water to extinguish the fire, then enjoy your rest.
Sandalwood incense burning can also help improve focus and memory. Its soothing fragrance can reduce irritability, balancing the emotions. Warmth generated by sandalwood can help lift a person’s mood.
This grounding fragrance can also simply be used to freshen the air in your space. It’s rich in antioxidants and it’s antibacterial, which when burned as incense, helps to cleanse the air.
Both men and women are intoxicated by the scent of sandalwood, making it a common fragrance choice amongst couples and families.
How to Choose the Best Sandalwood Incense
The best smelling sandalwood incense will come from India’s Santalum album tree. The species of wood used may not always be indicated, but if you see Santalum album on the ingredients list, or a reference to Indian sandalwood, then you will know you are getting the best sandalwood.
If possible, you want to stay away from hand dipped sandalwood incense. In most cases, such sticks are dipped into chemical-based fragrance oils. For the purest, most authentic sandalwood scent, try to select ones that are hand rolled in essential oils.
Or, if they are dipped, aim for companies that dip their sticks into essential oils. It is rare because essential oils are so expensive especially when used in this way, but these sticks result in a cleaner, low smoke burn.
Overall, you want incense that’s made with the fewest number of ingredients and that won’t smell more like smoke than sandalwood.
Minorien Fu-in Byakudan Japanese incense sticks is the clear winner for me. It burns off the most authentic sandalwood fragrance without excessive smoke or other scents. It’s all natural, no chemicals, dipping, additives, or anything but pure Santalum album sandalwood.
My second choice would be Shoyeido Overtones sandalwood incense sticks because they burn a little longer and incorporate some complementary spices; I enjoy the smell of benzoin.
If you look for sandalwood incense that’s made with raw materials and uses Santalum album at least as its foundational scent, then I think you’ll have a wonderful experience.