How To Use an Incense Burner

incense burners

Although incense has been around since ancient times due to it’s many benefits, it is still not prevalent all throughout the world. Therefor, many people don’t know how to use an incense burner.

There are also many different types of incense burners and it is easy to get confused as to which type you should buy.

In this article, I am going to discuss how to use various types of incense burners.

Most Incense Burners

Using most incense burners is relatively straight forward. Typically, there should be a small hole somewhere in the unit in which you can place your incense stick. It’s important to place it in the correct spot, and keep in mind that some incense burners support the use of different types of incense. So, just because you found a hole, it doesn’t that there isn’t a different size one somewhere else. Examples of this would be different sized holes intended for Japanese or Tibetan incense, or a metal disc for burning incense cones.

Traditional Ashcatcher

A traditional ashcatcher is much like your usual incense burner, except that they catch the ash when it falls. This is a common variety to find for sale.

Coffin Incense Burner

Coffin burners are actually just like ashcatchers, except that they usually have a pull out storage tray to hold your incense sticks.

indian incense sticks resting on a holder

Backflow Incense Burners

Backflow incense burners are a newer type of incense. There hasn’t been much innovation in the incense category in ages, so, these new incense burners are a much welcomed change. They really are beautiful to watch, as once you light them, the smoke falls down throughout a pattern, leaving a trail smoke in it’s path. The trick actually isn’t within the incense burner, but in the incense cone itself. The incense cone has a hole drilled into the bottom of it, and since smoke is heavier then air, when the incense cone burns, the smoke falls into the pattern of the burner.

Smudge Pot Burner

Smudge pot burners are meant for smudge sticks such as white sage or palo santo. You may find these made of all kinds of materials, such as ceramic, metal, or other varieties. To use a smudge pot burner, simply light your smudge stick and place it in the burner. Some varieties, such as some ceramic versions may require the use of sand to insulate it from the heat, to insure safety and long-term durability.

Abalone Shell

Abalone shells are a natural form of incense burner often used to burn smudge sticks, such as white sage or palo santo, and sometimes resins such as frankincense, copal, or myrrh. To use an abalone shell, put a thick layer of sand in the abalone shell, and then place your smudge stick or lit charcoal and resin on top of the sand. Make sure to use sand in your abalone shell or the heat from the charcoal may crack it and potentially cause a dangerous situation.


I think this article should cover the use of most styles of incense burners, but if you’re wondering how to use a specific type, or have any questions, feel free to leave me a comment.

Keep in mind, although incense burners are always recommended because they make burning incense much safer, if you don’t have one, there are ways to burn incense without using a holder. Just be sure to keep an eye on it!

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