In the age of room fresheners and perfumed candles, nothing ever matches the nostalgic emotions kindled by the incense sticks. The familiar smoky scents evoke memories of earnest prayer. Majority of the incense sticks in the market are manufactured with wood powder, saw dust, charcoal powder, fragrance, adhesive and bamboo stick. Ironically, burning bamboo is frowned upon in many cultures. And it is done so for good reason. Bamboo has accumulated heavy metals like lead, cadmium and mercury and burning could lead to the production of their harmful oxides.
Besides, burning these bamboo-based incense releases many chemical carcinogens like formaldehyde, benzene, Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH). A toxicology study shows that burning regular incense indoors without proper ventilation, could cause chronic respiratory illnesses and neoplasm. The fumes could inflame the bronchial tubes, which carry air to the lungs. This can cause chronic obstructive lung disease (COPD). Excessive levels of these fumes have been linked to neurological issues like migraines, headaches, and amnesia.
The truth may be a bitter pill to swallow. Incense sticks have been a part of our daily life for years and decades. Even as we were devoted to the use of regular incense sticks, we dismissed all the side effects caused by their fumes as minor inconveniences. With the already degrading air quality, it is in our best interest to be cautious about burning bamboo-based incense. Today, humanity is at its technological best. Therefore, while still adhering to our traditions, we should work to innovate better incense sticks without the wood or bamboo based raw material for safer aromatic experiences.