How to burn an incense stick

People choose to burn incense for many reasons, whether you burn incense sticks to relax, for religious purposes or simply because you like the smell, it is important that you know how to use them properly.

We will therefore see in this article how to choose your incense stick, how to turn it on and off and in what condition to use it.


Choose your incense and your censer




Start by buying an incense stick

Incense sticks are thin sticks of wood (usually bamboo) covered with incense. However the bottom end, about 2-3 cm is left uncovered so that it can be grasped and positioned in the incense holders.

The incense can be smooth and fine, or granular and thick. The aroma, which is often strong, includes both the scent of the incense and that of the burning heartwood.

Think about buying a solid incense stick

These incense sticks are made from pure incense material and do not have a wooden stick inside. They have a lighter aroma, making them perfect for small spaces such as bedrooms and offices. Since they do not have a wooden stick, their smell is simpler, with no underlying notes of burnt wood. You can also try White Sage or Palo Santo.



Find a suitable incense holder

Incense holders, also known as censers, incense burners or incense burners, come in many different shapes and sizes.

What you use to hold your incense depends on the type of incense you are using: wooden stick incense or solid incense. You can buy a special incense holder designed to hold incense sticks, or you can make it yourself with the supplies you have on hand.

• If you have an incense stick with a wooden core, consider using an incense "boat", which is a long, thin piece of wood, metal or ceramic that has a tiny hole at one end. The incense stick usually has a groove in the middle, which is used to catch any pieces of ashes that fall out.

• If you have a solid incense stick, do not use a wooden holder. Solid incense sticks burn along their entire length, so it is dangerous to use anything made of flammable material as an incense burner. Instead, fill a bowl or cup with grain, rice, salt or sand, and stick the incense stick inside. If you want to use a censer, look for a ceramic or stone censer.

• Consider buying a shaped censer. These incense holders often come in different shapes, such as elephants, lotus flowers, leaves or bowls. They are usually made of ceramic (which makes them suitable for wooden incense sticks and solid incense sticks) and have a tiny hole in the top.




Make your own censer

You can make a simple incense holder using a bowl and something granular, or you can make your own clay incense holder. Here are some ideas:

• Make a shaped censer using clay. Take a piece of natural, air-dried clay and roll it flat. Cut it into the shape you like using a craft knife or a cookie cutter. You can either leave it flat or turn the edges towards you to give it the shape of a bowl. Take your incense stick and drill a hole in the clay. Take the stick out and let the clay dry before using it as an incense burner.

• Make an incense holder using a bowl or bucket. Choose a container wide enough to collect the ashes from your incense stick. Fill the container with grain, rice, salt or sand.




Tutorial to use your incense stick


Find an appropriate place to burn your incense stick

Since incense sticks give off a lot of smoke, you should burn them in a well-ventilated room. But at the same time, keep your incense away from open windows or doors where there is a lot of draught so that it doesn't fall out.

Make sure there is nothing flammable near your incense, such as curtains or wall hangings.

Light the end of the incense stick

You can use a match or a lighter. Hold the flame on the stick until it ignites.

Wait about 10 seconds for the flame to burn well

The flame can extinguish itself. If it does, look at the end of the incense stick and if there is a glowing ember, the incense stick is burning properly. If you don't see anything, and the tip looks ashy, then you will need to relight the stick.

Blow with delicacy on the incense flame

You should be able to see a glowing ember at the end of your incense stick and a slight smoke, you should not see a flame.

After about 30 seconds, you should be able to smell the incense, which means your incense is burning properly. If you can't see anything and the tip looks ashy, you have completely extinguished the incense.

Light the stick again. This time, take your hand and hold it behind the flame as you extinguish it.




Place your incense in the holder

If using a wooden incense stick, place the wooden end in the holder.

If you are using a solid incense stick, it does not matter which end you place in the holder.

Most incense sticks are held vertically or at a slight angle. If your censer holds your stick at a slight angle, make sure the end of your incense stick is always above the censer. If the tip protrudes beyond the censer, cut the incense stick downwards or place the censer on a heat-resistant place.

If using a bowl or bucket filled with grains, rice, salt or sand, gently push the bottom of the stick into the grains, rice, salt or sand until the stick can stand on its own. You can hold the stick straight or tilt it slightly. If you decide to tilt it, make sure the end of the stick is still within the perimeter of the container. This way, once you light the stick, the ashes will fall directly into the container, not onto your table or floor.

Let the incense burn until it is extinguished

Most incense sticks burn for 20 to 30 minutes, depending on their size and thickness.

Beware of fire safety rules

As with all flames, do not let the incense burn unattended. If you must leave the room, extinguish the incense by dipping the tip in water or pressing it against a heat-resistant surface.

Make sure the incense holder is on a heat-resistant surface and out of reach of curtains, drapes, children and pets.




When to use incense and when not to use it


Use incense for meditation

Burning incense during meditation can not only help you relax your mind, but also make you feel focused.

Use incense to perfume a room

As incense produces a lot of fragrant smoke, it can be used as an air freshener. Keep in mind, however, that incense only masks odours and that to completely eliminate a bad smell, you will need to get rid of the source (whether it is garbage, dirty dishes, dirty litter, etc.).

Light Incense for Aromatherapy

You can use incense to help you concentrate, increase motivation, alleviate headaches and reduce depression. Burning incense can also help you relax and feel less stressed.

Excessive use of incense can lead to lung disease

Indeed incense fills a room with fragrant smoke, which you breathe. Studies have shown that breathing this smoke daily and in large quantities can lead to lung cancer.

Be aware that the use of incense too often increases indoor air pollution

Flavoured smoke from heavy use of incense sticks can deteriorate the air quality in your home and contribute to problems such as asthma, headaches and other respiratory problems. It can also irritate the eyes, nose, lungs and throat.



Tips for using incense sticks

- You can light as many incense sticks as you like at a time, but one is usually enough to fill a room.

- Incense can usually burn for 20 to 30 minutes.

- If you don't plan to burn the whole stick, as a safety precaution, soak the tip of the incense in water to make sure it is properly extinguished.

- If you don't know what type of incense to buy, try a small selection of different individual sticks to find the one you like best.

- To avoid adverse effects on your health, try using natural incense and limit the amount you use.

Warnings for burning an incense stick

- Use proper ventilation as too much incense smoke can cause headaches.

- Position the incense holder in a draught-free area to prevent it from being knocked over.

- Keep the incense burner on a flat, heat-resistant surface. This reduces the risk of fire in case it is spilled or if ashes miss the incense burner when it falls.

- Never leave incense burning unattended.