There are many different types of incense available, and correspondingly, there are many incense burners to accompany the various styles of incense.
I am going to discuss some various types of incense burners and the benefits of each one.
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Abalone shells have been used since olden times to light aromatic herbs and resins. I suppose people were probably drawn to them due to the rainbow of colors they often provide. Abalone shells are best used to burn smudge sticks, but they can burn incense cones and resin if thoroughly insulated with white sand.
The most common, as well as the most basic variety of incense burners is the traditional ash catcher. These can be made of many materials, such as wood, stone, ceramic, or even glass. Their function is basic, in which it is intended to simply catch the ash of the burning incense stick. These are, of course, intended for incense sticks, and usually cannot be used to burn other types of incense.
Box burners are quite similar to ash-catchers in function, but in addition, they have a small box built into the structure where one may store their incense, resins, or small valuables.
Charcoal Resin Burners
Charcoal resin burners are intended to hold burning charcoal and are most often used to burn resin incense, such as frankincense or myrrh. Sometimes you may find these with a fitted screen, secured vertically to better suit your materials.
Coil burners are intended for coiled incense, such as those that were once popular in ancient Asia. This type of incense is not to common anymore, but is still available if you look around hard enough. The coil burner hoists the incense coil into the air, so that air may disperse evenly around it.
Cone burners are intended for incense cones and typically incorporate a small metal tray where one is intended to place their lit incense cones. It is common to see these incense burners made from metal or stone, but wood is also used. White sand can be incorporated into the use of cone burners as well.
Smudge Pots & Bowls
A smudge bowl burner could be just about anything, from a simple ceramic bowl, to an ornate brass bowl, fitted with screens and a lid. Similar in style to the natural abalone shell, just add some natural ash to the bottom of the bowl, and light a charcoal on-top. Be sure that the bowl is capable of withstanding heat from charcoal.