How to use an Incense Burner – Modern and Traditional Backflow Burner Guide

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If you’re looking to buy an incense burner, or you’ve received one as a gift, and you’re not sure how to use it, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. We’ll show you how to use one, and help you decide which kind of the best incense burner is for you. But before we do, let’s first take a look at what an incense burner is and what it’s used for.

What Is an Incense Burner?

Essentially, an incense burner is a tool used in aromatherapy, meditation, rituals, and religious practices. It’s exactly what it says on the tin. It’s a burner for incense and aromas.

Traditionally, there are two types of incense burning, indirect and direct burning.

With indirect incense burning, you’d need a constant heat source, to burn the incense, which typically comes in powder form or ash form. Burners used in indirect burning tend to need constant care because you’ll need to keep an eye on the heat source and make sure they don’t cause a fire.

Direct incense burning tends to be a little safer, since usually an incense stick is burned for 5 – 10 seconds, before being blown out. Once it’s blown out, the stick, cone, or coil, continues to burn, releasing the aromas within, in the form of fragrant smoke.

The Modern Incense Burner

Modern incense burners are mostly direct burners and are popular amongst users, because of the mystical qualities they have. What that means is these burners create mystical illusions, because of the backflow of smoke they produce.

Essentially, when an incense cone is burned, instead of flowing upwards, as smoke usually does, the cone shape, and the hole at the bottom forces the smoke to flow downwards. And depending on the look and shape of the burner, the smoke will look like waterfalls and gather in pools at the bottom of the burner, before dissipating.

So, How Do You Use an Incense Burner?

Depending on the incense burner you’re using, there are different techniques.

Modern Backflow Burners and Incense Sticks

  1. First, you’ll need a safe place to stand the burner and a place where there isn’t any wind or airflow. The reason why is so that the smoke from the backflow doesn’t dissipate so quickly. Any airflow, breezes, or wind will cause the smoke to quickly fade. So, your best bet is to use your incense burner indoors.
  2. Next, light your incense cone. Remember to use tweezers to hold your cone, otherwise, you’ll burn your fingers. Hold the cone against a lighter or lit match for about 5 – 10 seconds, before blowing out the fire that remains on the cone. Once blown out, the cone should start producing smoke. If not, try the process again, until it does.
  3. Once it starts smoking from the hole in the bottom, place the cone carefully into its slot, on your incense burner, and watch the magic happen. Smoke should start flowing from the top and settle at the bottom. And that’s it! Enjoy the illusion from your incense burner.

Now, if you’re using incense sticks, you’re going to need a clay plate or stand, something to keep your incense stick standing. In the same way, incense cones are lit, so too are your incense sticks.

All you need to do is light it for around 5 – 10 seconds, blow out the flames on your stick, stand it on your plate or stand, and let the stick slowly release its fragrance.

Traditional Incense Burners

If you’re using traditional incense burners, you’ll need to be careful, as you’re going to be handling something hot, and you’ll need to keep an eye on it, so it doesn’t burn down your house.

Now, before you start using the burner, you’ll need charcoal tablets. They resemble bottle caps or cubes, and since they’re small, they’ll fit in any small incense burner.

  1. First, you’ll need to fill the bottom with sand or ash, to insulate the charcoal you’re going to use. Fill at least 2 inches of the bottom, that way the bottom of your incense burner is protected, and the heat from the ignited charcoal doesn’t escape from the bottom.
  2. Next, light your charcoal table. If you’re new to using a traditional incense burner, use a pair of tongs to hold the charcoal. You don’t want to burn your fingers when you light it. Make sure you cast a steady flame on the charcoal and cover the entire piece. It’ll start to crackle and pop, but that’s normal. Just make sure you keep it away from your face and body. Once it starts to glow red, you’ll know that the charcoal’s been activated, and you can start using it.
  3. When it’s burning steadily, without the aid of a flame, you can place it directly in the middle of the sand in your incense burner. If your charcoal tablet has an indentation, make sure it’s facing up, that way you can easily place your incense within the table, so it can burn completely.
  4. As the charcoal starts to turn pale, you can start placing your incense on top. You’ll know it’s working because it’ll start to smoke, and release the scent of the incense. And you’re done!

Remember to keep an eye on your incense burner, and top up the incense, when it’s burnt complete. Just remember to always use your tongs or a scraper to push away the used-up incense. Never touch the coal with your fingers.

When the charcoal is completely burnt up you can either mix it in with the sand or ash at the bottom, or you can throw it away. It’s completely up to you.

So, there you have it. Now, it’s up to you to decide which type of incense burner you use. Are you using it for decorative and aromatherapy purposes? Then the best incense burner for you would be the backflow burners or the incense sticks. They’re safer to use and easier to clean up after. However, if you’re using it for rituals or religious purposes, then traditional burners are your best bet.

About the author

olivia

Olivia spends her time writing about topics such as meditation, aromatherapy, yoga, astrology and natural healing. Olivia's blog is a place to find love for oneself through the practice of self-care.

She also enjoys spending time camping with her two kids while cooking up delicious meals at home. It doesn't get much better than that!