June 14, 2021

How To Burn Incense Sticks Safely

by Stephen

Incense is a great option for bringing different and natural scents to your home. It is made with natural materials, by hand and one of the cheapest options. Incense is an all star. However, you need to be careful and burn incense safely.

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How to burn incense safely

I utterly love incense. Sandalwood and Patchouli are my top two scents. I burn incense so much that I sometimes forget the potential dangers.

Incense burns red-hot and requires a flame to get started. These things come with risks and it is good to remind yourself of them every now and then.

Today, I am going to walk you through the risks of burning incense. But I am going to help you take steps to make your experience safe and relaxing.

In a rush? Check out the Cheat Sheet down below.

Why You want to burn incense

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When incense burns there is a different texture to the scent. This texture comes from the natural materials that make up incense resin. This is what you see in that thin trail of vapour.

This vapour and the scent that comes with it are what makes incense. You can track the scent trail as it motions in the air. It turns a simple home fragrance item into a personal journey.

The range of scents is also gigantic. There are over 100 different scents around and new ones are still being developed.

When you burn incense sticks they last for about 30 minutes on average. This shorter burn time comes with a powerful scent profile. These short bursts are a perfect fit for meditation or yoga sessions.

People have used incense in religions and traditional festivals going back thousands of years. They are cheap, abundant, natural, and support local business. All together, this is why you would want to burn incense.

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why you need to burn incense safely

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If you are ready to burn incense then you must think about safety. To burn an incense stick, you obviously need to light it with an open flame. Using fire is dangerous and you should never let the flame get close to anything else.

While the incense is lit it should have no flame. But, it is still burning hot and can cause damage to anything it comes in contact with. Never let a burning incense make contact with any surface or flammable object.

As the incense burns it also releases tiny amounts of chemicals into the air. This smoke is similar to that of burning wood.

However it can also contain chemicals used to produce the fragrances or colouring. Studies have shown that inhaling incense smoke often can be harmful.

Read Molekule Science's article on the dangers of incense smoke.

Now you see why it is important to burn incense safely. Not doing so can cause fire or personal harm to yourself or those around you.

Before you burn incense

To ensure your incense experience is safe and fun there are steps to take. First you need to find a clear spot to burn the incense. It should be off the floor and at least 10-15cm away from another object. It is important that no animals or children can each the spot.

You will need something to hold the incense. Ideally with a small round hole to slot the incense. It should also be fire resistant and able to withstand something scorching.

Thankfully there are specially designed Incense Ash Catchers you can buy. They are available in a range of designs and prices. From simple wooden slats, to beautifully crafted stone or clay.

Next, you want to open any windows and let air flow. It is dangerous to burn incense in enclosed spaces, so avoid small rooms. Opening the windows will allow air to circulate and remove some of the air pollution.

Burning incense can be safe and fun if you do it right!!

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Deciding What Incense to Burn

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There are many types of incense available to buy. Sticks, Cones, Backflow, Powders, and Resin are just some of them. For this article, I am focusing on Incense Sticks, so let us look at what options you have here.

Learn more about Backflow Incense.

Incense sticks have two main varieties that make up the bulk of all incense sold. Agarbatti Incense Sticks and Charcoal incense sticks. Agarbatti incense sticks are wooden sticks, usually bamboo, that are rolled in a dry resin.

The resin is made up of natural fragrance producing materials. Charcoal incense sticks are rolled in an odourless charcoal based resin. They are then dipped into a fragrance oil and dried.

The difference you will notice between the two is this: Agarbatti is dry and powdery, it can be many colours and will hold fragrance for a long time.

Charcoal incense is black and solid, it can hold any manufactured fragrance but the scent lasts for a shorter time.

If you want an authentic natural fragrance - go for Agarbatti. If you love modern refined scents, go for Charcoal.

Burn Incense The First Time

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Now you are ready to get into the action. Place the thinner, wooden core, end of the incense stick into the Ash Catcher.

There should be a small hole that you can slot the stick in. If the hole is too small, try to wiggle the stick and add a little force.

When the stick stands freely on the Ash Catcher, you are ready to light it. Take a lighter or a match and ignite the flame.

Position the flame so that it envelopes the resin end of the stick. Hold it here for a few seconds, until the resin catches the flame.

Move the lighter/match away from the incense stick. If the stick is on fire, extinguish the lighter/match safely (if you used a match run it under some cold water or place in an ash tray).

Allow the flame on the incense stick to remain for a few seconds. You want to ensure that the tip of the incense is burning red-hot before you gently blow out the flame.

Once the flame is out, look at the tip of the incense stick for a few more seconds. Check that a small steady stream of vapour is being released and there are no more flames anywhere.

Your incense stick is now safely lit and you can sit back and relax. Check in on the incense stick every 5-10 minutes to make sure the ash is falling safely and the incense is being held securely.

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When the incense burns no more

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The average incense stick should burn for around 30 minutes. This is how long it takes to burn off all the resin.

When the resin is finished, the incense stick will be much shorter and there will be no vapour trail.

You can replace this used incense stick with a fresh one, and repeat the process. With the old stick you have two options, discard it or reuse it.

To discard the incense stick, run it under some cold water and then place in a bin or recycling.

Check out IncenseSticks guide for more on how to burn incense

Used incense sticks are the best candle lighters. Especially when you are half-way through a candle and your finding it really hard to light.

Take the used incense stick, light the tip until it catches fire. Then use this extended fire lighter to light the wick in your candle.

If you want to stop an incense mid-burn then carefully remove it from the Ash Catcher. Keeping your fingers as far from the hot end as possible.

Walk over to the nearest sink and run the burning hot resin end under some cold water. There will be a slight hiss and some smoke and when both stop, the incense is extinguished.

Allow the stick to fully dry before trying to light it again. Not all incense sticks will re-light when extinguished this way.

Your turn

Now that you know how to burn Incense safely, its your turn to try it. Follow the instructions and you will be enjoying all the magic incense has to offer.

I said at the start that I love incense so please share your images with me on Instagram or Facebook.

If you have any questions, ask them in the comments below.

Cheat Sheet

  1. 1
    Grab an Ash Catcher and some Incense Sticks,
  2. 2
    Place the Ash Catcher in a safe space, with 10cm clear space around it.
  3. 3
    Insert the wooden end of the Stick into the round slot on the Ash Catcher.
  4. 4
    Use a lighter or match and place the flame at the resin end of the incense stick.
  5. 5
    When the stick is alight and burning orange/red, blow out the flames.
  6. 6
    Sit back and enjoy as your Incense vapour trail works its magic.

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