Does Incense Expire?

person lighting incense stick

Something I am commonly asked is ‘does incense expire’?

The truth is that incense does not soil or become rancid. It does not expire in the same way, say a piece of fresh fruit would. However, heavily oil-laden incense sticks may dry out a bit and become a little less fragrant.

Cheaper incense varieties may become noticeably weaker after a couple years or so, but higher quality incense may last quite a while longer, or even improve with age.

It’s also very important to store your incense correctly, as it will ensure your incense does not lose it’s delicate fragrance.

How To Store Your Incense

If you store your incense correctly, then your incense should remain aromatic for quite a long while.

The most important things you have to keep in mind is to keep your incense away from any harsh elements, such as heat, light, and moisture. We really love using paulownia wood boxes because the wood swells and creates a seal when there is moisture in the atmosphere. Another good place to keep your incense sticks is a dark drawer in a dry location.

It’s also best to keep your incense sticks separate from each other, because if the fragrances become entangled, they may start to smell a bit strange and you may mistake the incense sticks for being old.

Some Ingredients Improve With Age

Some resin-heavy incense formulations such as those containing agarwood may even improve a bit as they age. This is because sometimes these woods smell a bit acrid when they are first harvested. Allowing acrid smelling agarwood to age a little bit helps to mellow the scent out. The same thing can happen with some other aromatic ingredients as well. So, you’ll have to decide for yourself whether this is something you would want to attempt.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here is a list of questions we are frequently asked about the information in this article.

How Long Can Incense Be Stored?

It would depend on the type of incense, but cheaper incense could be stored for at least two or three years before losing much noticeable quality. Higher grade incense, such as agarwood or frankincense resin, may be able to be stored for many, many years.

Can You Use Old Incense?

As long as there isn’t any mold or noticeable degradation of quality then it should be safe to use old incense, but the fragrance may not be as strong as it used to be. However, it would depend on what incense you actually have.

Can Incense Grow Mold?

This doesn’t normally happen, but if there were quality control issues with the incense, or if they were made with extremely hygroscopic ingredients, then it could be possible.

Main photo by Herry Sutanto on Unsplash.

This article was updated on 07/31/2020.

2 thoughts on “Does Incense Expire?

  1. Avatar
    WeAreZilla says:

    When I was a teenager in the 1970s, Kmart sold an incense that I really loved. It was called Russian Musk from a company called Mother Nature’s Incense. Now, forty years on, I’m being nostalgic and longing for that smell.

    You wouldn’t believe it but someone recently offered an old stash of incense, including the one I liked so much, tucked away over 40 years, available on ebay. There were like 15 different packets from 3 different companies, all from the 1970s, and even though I just needed one packet, you know I just had to get the lot. How did that work out for me? Well, after 40 years of storage, apparently in a dank musty basement, there was absolutely none of the original scent from any of the incenses. But it is perfect for those times I want my house to smell like a dank musty basement. 😎

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