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What Kind of Incense do Orthodox Churches Use?

Orthodox church

For many years incense has been part of religious practices and rituals. It has different multiple meanings in different places of worship and is burned in different ways. Have you visited an Orthodox church before?

Well, in Orthodox churches, incense is burned in metal vessels. This is a vessel hanged on three chains. In some cases, this vessel will have a cover that helps in regulating the charcoal burning inside it. It is only normal to wonder, what kind of incense do Orthodox churches use?

This post discusses the different incense types that the Orthodox Church uses, why they use incense, and the main source of quality incense that the Orthodox Church uses. Let’s get started.

Why does the Orthodox Church use Incense?

As stated above, in Orthodox churches, incense is burned in a thurible or a censer – a metallic vessel hanging on chains.

It is not clear when churches introduced the use of incense in services. However, it is known that it is a practice that has been around for a long time.

So, why is it burned in Orthodox Churches? First, the incense is a symbol of prayer, as noted in Psalms 141:2. Incense smoke rising is a symbol of the prayer going up to God.

Secondly, it is a way of worshiping God and finally, it represents the Holy Spirit’s Grace, poured on us, just like the fragrance of incense fills the Church.

What Kind of Incense do Orthodox Churches use?

In most cases, three main types of scents are preferred for use in the Orthodox Church. These are Myrrh, Rose, and Frankincense.


Rose has different meanings in Church. First, it symbolizes sanctity. It is a sacred scent that shows spiritual holiness is present. There have been reports of people smelling rose fragrance after prayers to saints.


Frankincense has been used for a long time. It is most popular because it was offered as a gift – together with myrrh and gold – to baby Jesus by the wise men. It is a sign of cleanliness and purity. It was used, even in the Old Testament, together with other spices and herbs for cleansing.


Myrrh is quite similar to frankincense in properties. However, Myrrh is also used for attraction and healing. It was among the herbs used in the burial preparation of Christ’s body.

What is Orthodox incense made of?

The incense used in the Orthodox Church is made using fir or frankincense resin, and some essential oils. The fir or frankincense resins are first turned to powder after which they are mixed with essential oils.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Where to buy Orthodox incense?

In most cases, you can get the incense, together with the charcoal from suppliers specializing in incense for worship. Churches will also get them from nuns or monks in monasteries.

  1. What is Greek Incense called?

Greek incense is called Livani.

Also, read: Types of Incense Does the Catholic Church Use


Incense in Church has been used for a long time. It is, however, possible to find incense that does not contain the three only. There are some other forms of fragrances that are added to make the scent even more pleasant and strong.

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