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We sell only quality incense that has been soaked in quality oils for a pleasing fragrance and quality burn.

Lighting Incense

To light stick, cone, or cylinder incense, hold a lit match or, better yet, a butane lighter, to the tapered or coated end of the incense (or either end of a spaghetti stick or cylinder). Hold the flame there for ten seconds (more for some) then take the flame away. If everything is perfect, the incense will continue to flame for a second or two and then the flame will go out and the end will continue to glow and slowly burn. Some incense will not go out on its own. If it flames for more than twenty seconds, blow the flame out.

The smell you get just after the flame goes out is not necessarily the way the incense really smells. Incense is made up of materials that will burn at different rates while flaming, so all you smell in that first few seconds are the materials that didn't vanish in the flame. Give it twenty or thirty seconds, then the true scent will start to come through.

When it comes to dipped incense (as most commercial incense is), you might even notice that long after the incense is lit there are long wisps of black smoke in the air. If you reach up and touch one you'll discover that it's not smoke at all. It is actually a long chain of oil molecules. They use such high quantities of synthetic oil that it doesn't all burn so these chains of oil are also spewed into the air. One of the most popular brands of incense in the United States is notorious for doing this. That's one of the reasons I recommend sticking with natural incense instead of that synthetic stuff. Remember, your incense should give off a pale white smoke, that's the sign of good combustion. If your incense gives off black smoke, that means that it's not burning completely and needs to be reformulated (reducing the amount of oil in a recipe usually helps). As you make incense, you might roll cones (or other shapes) that won't burn. This is also a problem with commercial cones, both rolled and dipped. Although I will discuss this in-depth in chapter 9,1 wanted to mention a clever little trick when you encounter this problem. Try burning the cone upside down. Try it—it really works. Read chapter 9 for other ideas.


There are a number of factors you need to keep in mind when it comes to safety. First is fire safety. Since incense must be burned you should always be conscious of where it is and what it might come into contact with. Here are some important fire safety guidelines.

1. Make certain that no part of burning incense comes into contact with wood or other flammable materials.

2. Never burn incense inside cupboards or with anything hanging above the burning incense. The rising heat from the incense (along with the smoke) can cause discolorations and is potentially a fire hazard. If you want to use incense smoke to scent clothing, hang it at least eighteen inches above the burning incense.

3. Incense burners can heat up. Even soapstone burners get hot. Always be careful where you place the burner. A hot burner can damage or discolor wooden surfaces. They can also burn you if you try to move them while they are in use unless they have a chain or a handle.

4. Never leave burning incense unattended. If you have to leave while your incense is still burning, put it out. If you have to, you can put it out under water. A better method, if you use a censer, is to turn the incense upside down and bury the burning end in the sand or ash. That will put it out but still allow you to relight it at some future time. To put out a coil of incense you can break off the glowing tip and discard it in water.

5. Although this seems obvious to say, burning incense is hot. Just grazing the glowing tip of burning incense can cause a significant burn on skin and clothing. It really smarts!

6. Watch burning incense and make certain the ash is dropping where it should. If the ash is falling outside its container you might need to reposition it or use a different burner. It's a very good idea to contain the ash. It can discolor furniture and might even be hot enough to be a fire hazard itself.

7. Remember that the sign of Fire is powerful and deserves your reverence. Do not be careless with burning incense or charcoal out of respect for the power of Fire. Another important consideration with incense and safety is the material that you burn. Burning loose incense over charcoal may pose a hazard according to some experts. I personally have never noticed a problem, but some have suggested that burning charcoal in a well-insulated, poorly ventilated, or enclosed environment may cause dangerous levels of carbon monoxide to collect. This is especially true when you are using the "self-lighting" type of charcoal or incense that contains saltpeter, but even the finest charcoal might have this effect. As I said, I've never encountered a problem myself but it's best to be careful.

You can buy one very good incense burner and it will last your entire life. Or, if you prefer, you can collect them and own hundreds. Just keep in mind which type of incense can be used in which type of burners and where to place them for safety. If used with care, incense is quite safe and amazingly pleasant.