People burn incense for a variety of reasons: for relaxation, for religious purposes, or simply because they like the scent. It is important that you know how to use them.
Part 1 of 3: Choosing your incense and your incense burner
Step 1. Consider buying incense sticks with a core
These incense sticks consist of a thin wooden stick (usually bamboo) covered with incense material; only the bottom 3 to 5 cm is left uncovered. The incense material can be smooth and fine, or it can be grainy and coarse. The aroma, which is usually quite strong, includes both the scent of the incense and the scent of the burning wood core.
Step 2. Consider buying solid incense sticks
These incense sticks are made of pure incense material and have no wooden core. They have a lighter aroma, which makes them perfect for small spaces such as bedrooms and offices. Because they are solid, their scent is less complex, with no underlying notes of burning wood.
Step 3. Find a suitable incense holder
Incense holders, also known as incense burners, come in many different shapes and sizes. What you use to burn your incense depends on the type of incense you use: core or solid. You can buy a special holder made to hold incense sticks, or you can make your own using materials you have on hand.
- If you have an incense stick with a core, consider using an incense 'boat', which is a long, thin piece of wood, metal or ceramic with a small hole at one end. The incense boat usually has a groove in the center, which is used to collect ashes.
- If you have a solid incense stick, do not use a wooden holder. Solid incense sticks burn up completely, so it is dangerous to use anything made of combustible material. Instead, consider filling a bowl or cup with grain, rice, salt, or sand and inserting the incense stick. If you want to use an incense burner, look for one made of ceramic or stone.
- Consider choosing an incense holder in a particular shape. These incense holders often come in many different shapes, such as elephants, lotus flowers, leaves or bowls. Usually they are made of ceramic (which makes them suitable for both solid and cored incense sticks) and have a small hole on top.
Step 4. Consider making your own incense burner
You can make a simple incense holder using a bowl and something granular, or you can make your own out of clay. Here are a few ideas:
- Make a beautifully shaped incense burner from clay. Take a piece of natural air-drying clay and roll it flat. Cut out a shape you like using a knife or cookie cutter. You can leave it flat, but you can also push up the sides to give it more of a bowl shape. Take your incense stick and make a hole in the clay with it. Remove the stick and let the clay dry before using it as an incense holder.
- Make an incense holder from a bowl or bucket. Choose a container that is wide enough to catch any falling ash from your incense stick. Fill the container with grains, rice, salt or sand.
Part 2 of 3: Using your incense
Step 1. Find a suitable place to burn your incense
Because incense sticks release a lot of smoke, you will need to burn your stick in a well-ventilated room. At the same time, however, you should keep your burning incense stick away from open windows or doors, where there is a lot of draft. Make sure there is nothing flammable near your incense, such as curtains or sheets.
Step 2. Light the end of the incense stick
You can use a match or a lighter. Hold the flame near the stick until the stick starts to burn.
Step 3. Let the flame burn for about 10 seconds
The flame may go out on its own. If he does, look at the tip of the incense stick. If you see a glowing ember, then the incense stick is burning well. If you can't see anything, and the tip looks ashy, you'll need to relight the stick.
Step 4. Blow out the flame gently
You should now see a glowing ember at the tip of your incense stick, and a trail of smoke; you shouldn't see a flame. After about 30 seconds you should be able to smell the incense. This means that your incense burns well. If you can't see anything, and the tip looks ash-like, you've blown the incense completely. Light the stick again. This time, fold your hand into a bowl and hold it behind the flame as you blow it out.
Step 5. Put your incense in the holder
If you are using a cored incense stick, place the wooden end on the holder. If you're using a solid incense stick, it doesn't matter which side you place in the holder. Most incense holders will hold the stick upright or slightly angled. If your incense holder is holding your stick at an angle, make sure the end of your incense stick is still hanging over the incense holder. If the tip extends past the incense holder, cut off a piece of the wooden stick or place the incense holder on a heat resistant plate.
If using a bowl or bucket filled with grains, rice, salt, or sand, gently press the bottom of the stick into the grains, rice, salt, or sand until the stick stands upright. You can leave the stick upright, or place it at an angle. If you choose to angle the stick, make sure the tip is still within the perimeter of the container. This way, when you light the stick, any ashes will fall directly into the container, and not onto your table or floor
Step 6. Let the incense burn until it goes out
Most incense sticks will burn for 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the size and thickness.
Step 7. Make sure it's fireproof
As with all flames, do not leave incense burning 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 placed on a heat resistant surface and out of reach of curtains, sheets, children and pets.
Part 3 of 3: Knowing when to burn incense and when not
Step 1. Use frankincense for meditation
Burning incense in meditation can not only help calm your mind, but it can also give you focus.
Step 2. Use frankincense as an air freshener
Since frankincense produces a lot of fragrant smoke, you can use it as an air freshener. Keep in mind that incense only masks odors, and to get rid of a bad smell completely, you need to remove the cause (whether it's the garbage, dirty dishes, a dirty litter box, or something else).
Step 3. Use incense for aromatherapy
You can use frankincense to help you focus, improve motivation, relieve headaches and reduce depression. Burning frankincense can also help you relax and feel less stressed.
Step 4. Be aware that using frankincense too often can lead to lung disease
Incense fills a room with fragrant smoke, which you can inhale. Studies have shown that inhaling this smoke daily can lead to lung cancer.
Step 5. Know that using frankincense too often can exacerbate indoor air pollution
The smoke from excessive frankincense consumption can worsen the quality of the air in your home, contributing to problems such as asthma, headaches and other respiratory ailments. It can also irritate the eyes, nose, lungs, and throat.
- You can burn as many sticks at once as you like, but usually one is enough to fill a room.
- Incense lasts up to 20 or 30 minutes.
- If you don't plan to burn the entire incense stick, dip the tip of the incense in water to make sure it's really out.
- If you're not sure what kind of incense to buy, ask someone who works in the store what the most popular types are, then choose a selection of several single sticks. Try them one at a time until you find one you like.
- Use good air ventilation. Too much smoke from frankincense can cause headaches.
- Never leave incense burning unattended.
- Keep burning incense away from drafts or places where it can be knocked over.
- Hold the incense holder on a flat, heat-resistant surface. This is to reduce the risk of fire if it is knocked over or ash falls next to the container.