When building up an incense collection, a question that commonly arises is, ‘can incense expire?”
The ingredients used to make incense do not expire, but it is possible for low to moderate quality incense to lose some of their fragrance over time. Higher quality incense can actually age like wine; the fragrance is enhanced over time.
Let’s get into why this is and how you can best preserve your incense for long-term storage.
How Long Will Your Incense Last?
You can continue to use incense even if its scent has faded. Incense doesn’t degrade over time. You don’t have to worry that lighting older incense might make you ill; it won’t.
Incense doesn’t toxify over time, it simply may not smell as strong as when you first purchased it. But even if the scent fades, it takes years for this to happen.
Dipped incense and purely artificial incense might begin to lose their scent within a couple years. But it would take three years or more for most incense, like Satya, Baieido, or Shoyeido, to even begin to lose their fragrance as long as they’re stored properly.
More expensive brands and traditionally made incense will actually smell better over time. Pure resin incense, the kind that is warmed by a heat source, not burned, will last even longer.
Can Incense Grow Mold?
Drying is an essential phase of the incense-making process. If your incense is made well, there won’t be any harmful moisture in it. So long as there isn’t any moisture, your incense shouldn’t develop mold spores.
If you purchase incense from a handmade shop owner, just be sure to understand and ask questions about the drying process. They should be able to explain how they make their incense and for how long they allow it to dry before packaging it.
Once you’ve purchased incense, then it’s up to you to make sure it remains dry. More on that in the next section.
If you make your own incense then it’s important not to rush the process. Ample drying time depends on the type and size of incense you’re making. Thicker incense sticks and incense cones take longer to dry – upwards of days.
How to Properly Store Incense Sticks
Whether you purchase incense sticks, cones, or coils, they are going to be packaged in a way that helps prolong their use. So you can always allow your incense to remain in its original packaging for the best preservation.
In addition to that, you want to keep your incense in a cool, dry place. Store them away from heat, direct sunlight, and definitely moisture.
Storing them in a drawer or wooden case keeps them ready to be used for years.
One thing to avoid, though, is storing multiple scents in the same container. It would be better for there to be some sort of divider between different fragrances because it’s possible for one pack of incense to begin to take on the fragrance of another.
Can You Burn Old Incense?
Although most incense is made using natural ingredients, it won’t degrade over time like most other natural products. You wouldn’t expect fresh flowers, natural oils, or fresh fruits to last for years, unless they’re dehydrated or freeze-dried.
And this is why you don’t have to worry about your incense expiring. Although it’s usually natural, it isn’t fresh and moist, it’s aged and dehydrated; therefore, it doesn’t expire.
As long as it’s kept away from heat and moisture, in a cool, dry place, then you can use the same incense for years.
Feel free to use and enjoy your older incense.