HEM is one of the most popular global incense brands known for its large variety of fragrance options and is a common household name for incense-aficionados. In the following HEM incense review, I’ll share what I’ve learned about whether or not HEM incense is natural.
While HEM Corporation operates according to high quality assurance and control standards, some of their products are not completely natural. The company combines craftsmanship with machinery to produce high-quality fragrance products with the help of skilled perfumers and a cooperative team of over 500 workers that help customers relax and enjoy daily life.
If you’re interested in learning more about Hem, the quality of its incense, and reviews of my favorite Hem fragrances, be sure to stick around.
All About HEM Corporation
With over 400 fragrance offerings and exportation to over 70 countries worldwide, HEM is a well-loved brand that has continued to grow and develop over the years.
Headquartered in Mumbai, India, HEM Corporation runs two state-of-the-art manufacturing factories there and in Bengaluru. The company operates multiple supply warehouses in the United States, and they also have package and product-specific facilities in other countries.
The History Behind Hem Corporation
Founded by three brothers in 1983, HEM is a customer-driven company that caters its product offerings to consumer demand.
Called agarbatti in Hindi, HEM sells highly fragranced incense sticks, cones, and other fragrance products. What started as a small store has expanded to cater to customer needs and changes in interior fragrance demands. HEM Precious, a signature fragrance line, has helped propel the company forward.
Additional facts about their company climate is that wholistic quality seems to be its driving force. Whether it’s through testing natural raw materials, producing new fragrances, or their seamless production and exportation process, premium quality is at the forefront of all HEM operations.
Of further importance are key points, like:
- 100% recycled packaging (waste reduction)
- Fair hiring practices (no child labor)
- Ethical and integrous business practices
- International Organization for Standardization (ISO) certified company
- International Fragrance Association-approved (IFRA)
Is Hem Incense Natural?
Oftentimes when this question is asked, the assumption is that the answer, “no” means that harmful chemicals were used to create the product. While there is no industry standard for what is considered to be a natural product, products are often categorized as “good” or “bad” based on this one term.
So for the purpose of this article, natural incense is plainly defined as, incense that is made with ingredients that are solely sourced from nature, without incorporating any man-made elements.
In this case, not all HEM incense is 100% natural.
HEM incense incorporates natural ingredients like ground up botanicals, woods, resins, and essential oils into their product line.
While no harmful chemical or waste byproducts find their way into HEM incense, some of their products do contain fragrance oils, which are man-made in their in-house fragrance laboratory. Even so, HEM specifically states that their products are “free of any harmful toxic gasses or emissions.” And they constantly facilitate product tests to ensure that these poisons do not exist in their products.
I would describe HEM incense as mostly natural.
Additionally, they use only sustainable ingredients, none of their products are tested on animals, nor are any animal products used, making them vegan.
Since HEM Corporation is IFRA-approved, I think that customers can more confidently burn HEM incense. IFRA Standards, “ban, limit or set criteria for the use of certain ingredients, based on scientific evidence and consumer insights.”
These standards not only help build company trust, but customers can find relief in knowing that the fragrances they select are unlikely to harm them or other family members.
So while not all HEM fragrances are 100% natural, knowing that they meet such standards means that I can burn their incense without the fear of inhaling nasty toxins.
HEM Corporation Intriguing Fact
An interesting point is that in addition to perfumers, HEM Corporation also has aromachologists on staff. These individuals study the effects certain scents have on the human psyche and how they relate to emotions and the way a person experiences those emotions.
This is one reason why HEM creates such captivating fragrances that connect with their customers.
HEM Product Lines
In addition to incense sticks, dhoops, cones, and masala incense sticks, HEM produces a number of home fragrances that includes:
- Air fresheners
- Aroma oils
- Aroma soaps
- Essential oils
- Fragrance candles
- Fragrance sachets
- Reed diffusers
- Scented wax melts
Incense sticks and cones, essential oils, and backflow incense are their top selling categories.
HEM makes about ten different types of incense sticks. Some vary by length, others by shape or price point. At different stages, most of their products are created using a combination of handmade and machine portions of the process. But their masala incense sticks are solely rolled by hand.
Unique Features of HEM’s Incense Manufacturing Process
With the exception of their dhoop incense sticks and incense cones, HEM incense sticks are built around a bamboo core. This is the light-colored wood that extends beyond the dried incense that is burned for fragrance.
Once the ground up raw materials have been built around their bamboo core, bundled incense sticks are hand-dipped into premium quality fragrance oils before drying and packaging.
Dhoop incense is pressed out of a machine, so it’s made without a wooden core, similar to traditional Japanese incense.
To ensure that their incense functions properly, burn tests for each are randomly carried out in keeping with the company’s ISO certification. Their incense formula includes an ingredient that produces a steady, slow burn as the incense consistently releases fragrance.
Top 7 Hem Incense Products Reviewed
The following HEM products are either variety packs or signature fragrances produced by the company. There are many, many more choices as they have hundreds of scents to choose from, but these are the ones that stood out the most to me.
According to HEM’s website, frankincense and myrrh, white sage, and sandalwood are some of their most popular fragrances. Dragon’s blood, patchouli, and frankincense alone are growing in customer interest. So I’ve been sure to include some of these below as well.
1. HEM Assorted Bestseller Incense Sticks
There are six popular fragrances in this assortment, and it includes 20 sticks of each fragrance along with an incense burner. Included fragrances:
This scent is a spicy, rich blend of plants and powdery musk. It’s a relaxing fragrance that can help with stress relief.
An earthy, woodsy, floral combination, this scent really does smell like stepping outside after a fresh rainfall. This one is a softer, relaxing fragrance.
Frankincense & Myrrh
While frankincense is sweeter and smells like soft burning wood, myrrh is earthier with hints of herbs and spices. Together these fragrances help disinfect your space and calm the atmosphere.
From the Precious series, this is a delicately sweet herbaceous fragrance. This traditional floral scent is known to help you relax and even fall asleep.
With its one-of-a-kind grounding scent, brings with its rich scents, joy and optimism.
It’s become popular to burn white sage as a cleansing ritual within the home. If this is your practice, then this incense stick might be an alternative to a white sage smudge stick. If smudging is not your thing, then you might find the clean, soft herbal fragrance to be attractive.
This list covers all the most popular scents except sandalwood and frankincense on its own, so I think that this might be one of the best assortments to start off with if you are new to HEM incense.
Quantity: 120 sticks total
Length: 9 inches
Burn time: 30-35 minutes per stick
- Popular fragrances you’ll likely enjoy
- Comes with a free holder
- High value for the price
- Nice way to test HEM incense
- Great for gifting
- Your incense holder might look different from what’s displayed
- Some scents might be overwhelming when lit in small rooms
2. HEM Celestial Variety Incense Sticks
A little different, this set includes 10 boxes of incense, two of each fragrance, with 20 sticks in each box for a total of 200 incense sticks. In keeping with its celestial theme, these scents are lighter, more aerial, and most are sweeter-smelling than the last assortment.
- Sun – Warm and complex with hints of spices
- Moon – Subdued fresh and sweet floral scent with musk undertones; very delicate
- Star – Delightfully herbal and floral fragrance with subtle musk lingering in the background
- Planet – Probably the most pungent one; smells like spices, old paper, and the woods
- Galaxy – Fruity floral scent
This is a set of balanced scent combinations. All of the sweet blends are countered with earthy scents and vice versa. You won’t get too much of any one fragrance with this assortment.
Quantity: 200 sticks total
Length: 9 inches each
Burn time: 30 minutes each
- Softer scents
- Sweet, but not overwhelmingly so
- Both feminine and masculine scents included
- Lots of value
- Not for those who dislike sweeter fragrances
- Included scents can be hit or miss
3. HEM Incense Sticks Earthy Assorted Variety #22
If you are drawn to earthier scents, this assortment might be for you. It includes frankincense and sandalwood – the other two popular HEM incense scents. The other four fragrances included are: french vanilla, cinnamon, red rose, and palo santo. This set also comes with an incense holder.
Since the scents are pretty straightforward, I’ll share the possible benefits of each scent:
- Cinnamon’s spicy sweetness can stimulate the mind to increase focus and balance emotions
- Frankincense has peaceful and relaxing effects and can help reduce stress
- French vanilla generates warmth and helps create a calming environment
- Palo santo is another scent that is becoming part of the cleansing trend said to reduce stress and clear out negative energy. But this scent had been used by various cultures long before the palo santo trend began.
- Rose scents can create a calming and peaceful atmosphere that can also help fight depression, reduce anger, and help promote sleep.
- Sandalwood reduces irritability and aggressive emotions. Its relaxing, woody fragrance is soothing and uplifting and thought to help reduce anxiety.
Quantity: 120 total
Length: 9 inches each
Burn time: 30 minutes
- Familiar fragrances
- Pretty good value
- Common scents that can burn when company is over
- Warm and grounding fragrances
- Not for those who prefer complex fragrance blends
4. HEM Precious Series Chandan Incense Sticks
Chandan is a type of sandalwood that is native to India. The primary natural ingredient in these incense sticks is Chandan bark extract, which helps purify the air in your home and covers up strong odors. Additional ingredients include wood and flower powder, ground herbs, natural resins, charcoal, and essential oils. Its earthy aroma is calming and is a natural way to freshen up your home.
Quantity: 120 sticks total
Length: 9 inches each
Burn time: 30-40 minutes
- An authentic, traditional Indian fragrance
- All natural ingredients
- Freshens and purifies the home
- Warm, sweet, earthy scent
- This has a stronger fragrance that some may not like
- Not for those who dislike woodsy scents
- If you dislike it, there will be many sticks remaining
5. HEM Popular Gourmand Incense Sticks Variety #15
This is one of HEM’s themed sets that I thought was a bit different from other brands that I’ve encountered. Each fragrance is food-related: honey rose, chocolate, coffee, ginger, and honey. Twenty sticks of each fragrance and an incense burner are included.
I personally can’t tolerate burning chocolate or coffee incense, but if foodie scents are your thing, then you might enjoy these. The floral and gently sweet honey rose combination is my favorite.
Quantity: 100 sticks total
Length: 9 inches each
Burn time: 30-45 minutes
- Unique set of fragrances
- Perfect gift for a foodie
- Good number of sticks; nice variety
- Perfect if you simply want to try something new
- A little more expensive than the other sets
- Very specific fragrance palette
6. HEM Champa Masala Incense Sticks
Champa Masala has a floral, sweet, spicy, and earthy scent. If you’ve wanted to try HEM’s all natural hand-rolled incense sticks, champa would be a premium choice. It has a familiar fragrance if you have spent any time near a temple or in a yoga studio.
This is the perfect choice if you are seeking both a traditional scent and traditional Indian handcrafted incense.
Quantity: 120 sticks total
Length: 8 inches each
Burn time: 30-45 minutes
- Scent lingers for hours after stick is done burning
- Fragrance isn’t overpowering
- Great value if you enjoy this scent
- Hand-rolled craftsmanship
- All natural ingredients
- There’s only one scent to try
7. HEM Precious Series Incense Cone Variety
There are two boxes each of six different scents from the Precious series: rose, patchouli, musk, chandan, lavender, and jasmine. It’s a gratifying mix of floral and earthy fragrances.
HEM’s incense cones are considered dhoop fragrances because there isn’t a wood core, only molded fragrance.
They should always be lit inside of a non-flammable incense cone burner. A basic one is included in this set, but it needs to be placed on a heat-resistant surface to prevent damages.
Quantity: 120 cones total
Height: 1.5 inch
Burn time: 20 minutes
- Packaged for gifting
- Great variety of fragrances
- Healthy number of cones to use
- Definitely won’t smell burnt wood; just pure incense
- 100% natural ingredients and oils
- Lavender doesn’t smell authentic to some
- Customer Opinions About Hem Incense
Customer Opinions About Hem Incense
HEM Corporation didn’t become one of the top incense exporters without a lot of positive customer interest in their product. Most customers really enjoy the product; here’s their feedback:
What Customers Liked
- You can hardly smell smoke when burning HEM incense.
- Their fragrances are strong without being overwhelming.
- They seem to put a lot of thought into scent concepts and series.
- Scents continue to linger long after the incense has burned.
- The Chandan fragrance is truly relaxing and helps deepen meditative practice.
- HEM incense offers wonderful value for the price and the fragrances are as delightful as more expensive brands.
- Many customers prefer HEM’s Champa Masala sticks more than nag champa incense created by other brands. To them, HEM’s version has a purer fragrance.
- HEM incense sticks burn evenly and last longer than expected.
- When purchasing the variety packs, you can play around with scent combinations by burning more than one at a time to create a custom fragrance of your own.
What Customers Disliked
- While many customers find HEM scents to be true to their description, others do not. Some strongly dislike the fragrance blends and find them to be overpowering or simply not what they were expecting.
- Some people feel that HEM incense is toxic and too smoky.
- Another complaint involved variance in the width of each stick’s bamboo core. Personally I have found this to be true of various brands, and I’ve used incense for decades. It can be annoying when the stick doesn’t fit into your holder, but it’s also possible to get creative and safely burn the sticks anyway.
Final Thoughts About Hem Incense
While HEM incense doesn’t seem to be 100% natural, it’s definitely not toxic, either. Based on my research, the only unnatural ingredient that is used in some of their incense sticks is fragrance oil. But even their fragrance oils are nature-based.
If you are new to HEM incense, I would strongly suggest trying out one of their variety packs. This way, you can get a sense of how their product is made, test out a number of fragrances, and determine whether they burn to your liking.
This assortment includes four of the six most popular HEM incense fragrances, or for an earthier assortment, this variety could work.
Overall, HEM incense is inexpensive in comparison to other brands, so trying a few assortments or individual fragrances won’t set you back all that much financially. You can try what you think would work for you without feeling pressured to find the “right” scent.