How to Burn Incense

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Incense is used around the world during religious and spiritual ceremonies, especially in Buddhism. According to the International Buddhist Society, lighting incense is a sign of respect for the Buddha and assists in focusing the mind for meditation. Incense is also used regularly in Roman Catholicism and paganism. Incense is most commonly sold in stick or cone form, and it is very easy to burn.

Things You'll Need

  • Stick or cone incense
  • Incense holder or tray
  • Matches
  • Place the wooden end of the incense stick into the small hole on an incense holder.

  • Light the top of the incense stick with a match until the flame catches hold on the incense--about 10 or 15 seconds.

  • Extinguish the flame by lightly blowing or fanning the incense. The stick will smolder and glow where it is lit, and start smoking lightly. This is normal.

  • Do not leave the incense unattended while it is burning. Most incense sticks can burn up to 1 hour, depending on the quality of the incense.

  • Remove the incense from the holder when it has burned down to the wooden end. Clean the ash from the tray, but only after it has cooled completely. Place a new incense stick into the holder when you are ready to burn more incense.

Tips & Warnings

  • Incense is also sold in cone form, which is even easier to burn than stick incense. Stand the cone upright in a heatproof tray. Hold a flame to the narrow tip of the cone, let it burn for 10 to 15 seconds, and then gently extinguish the flame. The cone will smolder and release its fragrance for up to 30 minutes. Throw away the ashes after they have cooled completely.
  • Burn incense in moderation. A study conducted by the National University of Singapore found that daily exposure to incense over several decades increased the risk of cancer in study participants.

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