How To Use Incense Sticks

How to Use Incense Sticks

Incense has been used for centuries in countries all around the world. Incense isn’t only useful for making your home smell amazing, it is also brilliant for encouraging the mind to be calm.

There are many people who like to light incense whilst meditating, doing yoga, or just relaxing at the end of the day.

How to Use Incense Sticks

Most commonly today, you can find incense in the form of incense sticks, or stick incense. You can find stick incense in two different forms. One form has a core in the center and the other does not.

So, how do you use incense burners and incense sticks? In this guide we will take you through the steps you need to light and put out incense for sticks that don’t have a core.

To light and put out incense with and without a core is a very similar process, so you will be able to follow this guide for both.

How Long Does Incense Burn?

The most common question that people ask when it comes to incense is how long it actually lasts.

Generally, you can expect incense to burn for around 20 to 40 minutes. However, this is dependent on the thickness, quality, and length of the incense.

If you have a full length incense stick, then you are probably looking at a burn time of around 40 minutes. These sticks do not have a core and are usually around 21cm in length and 1.5mm in thickness.

Traditional Japanese incense sticks are usually shorter than this at around 15cm in length, however, they are typically thicker. Japanese incense sticks tend to burn for around 20 to 30 minutes.

How To Light Incense Sticks

Here, we will go through the detailed steps for lighting an incense stick.

  1. Start by holding the end of the incense stick or by placing it onto an incense burner stand. Make sure to keep it angled upwards.
  1. Next, light the other end of the incense stick using a lighter or a match, similar to how you would light a candle. The incense will need to remain immersed within the flame to catch. When a small flame is visible then you can remove the lighter.
  1. Leave the flame to burn for a couple of seconds and then lightly blow it out.
  1. Then, check the tip of the incense stick to see if there’s a slight glowing ember as well as a stream of smoke coming out of the tip. This is how you know the incense is lit correctly.

    If you’re unsure whether the incense is lit correctly or not, then just leave the incense for a moment to allow it to catch. If you can smell the scent, then you can be sure that it is lit correctly.

    If the embers have gone out then repeat step 1-3 to light it again.
  1. If you were lighting the incense stick whilst holding it in your hand then you can now place it onto an incense holder. Make sure that the tip of the incense stick is sitting above the holder so that the ash will fall onto the plate.
  1. Lastly, sit back, relax, and enjoy the calming scent of your incense stick.
How to Use Incense Sticks

Putting Out The Incense Stick

Some people don’t want to burn their entire stick of incense at once and for this you will need to know how to put out an incense stick so that it can be burned again later.

Whether you’re wanting to only burn it for 15 minutes to read a book or 10 minutes for some meditation, only burning your incense stick for a short while is perfectly possible.

You can put out your incense using two main methods, these are applicable to incense sticks.

Some other instructions tend to state that you can submerge the stick in water to put it out, but we don’t recommend using this method as it can stop the incense from being able to be burned again.

We will take you through the main ways to put out incense sticks below.

Method One – Press The Tip Off

  1. Using your hand, remove the incense from the burner.
  2. Tilt the incense stick down and press the tip on the burner stand until the part that was burning breaks off the end. You can either use the incense burner or you can use another heat-resistant surface such as a ceramic or glass dish.
  3. Ensure that you don’t use a flammable surface such as wood, cardboard, or paper (see also ‘How to Make Japanese Paper Lanterns’). Keep the stick on this surface until the flame has been completely extinguished.

Method Two – Cut Off The Tip

  1. You will need to use a pair of metal scissors for this. Take the scissors and cut off the end of the incense stick. The piece you cut off must include the part of the stick that has the ember.
  2. Make sure the ember lands on the heat-resistant surface of the incense burner or other safe surface. The ember must be completely extinguished before it is cleaned up.

Safety Warnings

When using flammable materials there are always things that you should consider so that you can remain safe when using them. Make sure that you keep the incense in a proper incense burner or on a heat-resistant surface.

Don’t keep the incense near any flammable materials such as curtains and books. Incense burners are perfect for this as they are designed to be as safe as possible.

You should also make sure that the incense that you are using is attended to at all times.

The incense should always be kept out of reach from any children or pets. Lastly, do not touch the incense stick whilst it’s burning to avoid any burns.


We hope that this article has helped you understand how to use incense so that you can enjoy its relaxing and calming benefits. Use incense to aid you in meditation or just to have on day to day to keep you in a positive mindset.


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