Burning Incense: Keep It Safe With These Important Tips

Burning incense can brighten your day in a moments time... but if not used with care it can easily put a big damper on any occasion. Here are some basic tips for keeping all your incense burning experiences safe and pleasant. You're probably familiar with most of them -- but who knows, you just might find one or two gems in the bunch.

Caution: This is Hot Stuff!

  • It seems obvious, but it can never "hurt" to mention it. Always use caution -- burning incense is hot stuff.

  • Brushing against the glowing tip of a burning incense can cause a significant burn on the skin or ruin a favorite article of clothing.

  • Always place your burner on a heat-resistant surface, such as a trivet or ceramic tile. Depending on what method you're using the outside of your censer may get very hot.

  • If you're using charcoal tablets to burn non-combustible incense always use a burner that can take the heat. Charcoal can burn at up to 1500 degrees F. -- that's very, very hot! See below.

Can Your Burner Take The Heat?

  • Place your burning incense in or on a stable, non-flammable, heatproof burner. Some incense burners get very hot, especially if they're not insulated. Charcoal tablets burned in a glass container without the use of sand or ash can cause the burner to get extremely hot and even shatter.

  • Make sure your burner is properly insulated so that the surface you place it on is protected from the heat that it could generate. A very hot burner can damage or discolor wooden surfaces and shatter glass table tops!

  • Ash falling outside your incense burner could discolor furniture. It may even be hot enough to cause a fire hazard. Make sure all incense ash falls on a fireproof surface.
Read More about selecting incense burners.

Location, Location, Location

  • Always be conscious of where you burn your incense and what it might come in contact with.

  • Position your incense away from drapes, lampshades, and other flammable objects that could ignite.

  • Keep your burner away from open windows or other drafty areas. Don't put your burner next to anything that could be blown around.

  • Never burn incense inside closets or hang anything above burning incense. Hanging clothing above burning incense is a potential fire hazard. The oily smoke from some synthetic incense may also cause discoloration.

Beware: The Patter Of Little Feet

  • Keep both unlit and burning incense out of reach of children and pets. Innocent curiosity can lead to accidents and injuries.

Fresh Air & Incense

  • Burn incense in a ventilated area. We all need fresh air, so let some fresh air into the space where you're burning your incense.

It's Not Over 'Til It's Extinguished

  • Never leave burning incense unattended. If you have to leave or you're going to sleep and your incense is still burning, put it out!

  • Make sure all your spent incense materials are completely extinguished and cold to the touch, before discarding (i.e. incense, matches, ash, charcoal). Charcoal ash can remain hot for hours after your incense has burned out. Hot incense material can ignite in a wastebasket.

  • For stick incense, break off the glowing tip and discard it in water or just dip the tip in water. If you use a censer, turn the stick upside down and bury the burning end in the sand or ash. The incense stick can then be relit in the future. For coil incense, you can break off the glowing tip and discard it in water. For charcoal, use a pair of tweezers to remove all the burning embers and discard in water.

A Dose of "Healthy" Common Sense

  • If you're asthmatic, suffer from respiratory difficulty, are prone to seizures or have had a stroke, check with your physician before burning incense.

  • If you're pregnant or nursing consult a physician before using incense.

  • Don't burn incense while under the influence of mind-altering substances.

  • Some herbal incense can have mind altering affects. For instance, some people find mugwort to be slightly mind-altering. Burning this herb should be avoided before driving. If you're new to burning herbs its best to read about the specific herbs you'll be using.

  • Do not take internally. Incense, even if labeled herbal, is not for human consumption. It may have other ingredients added that where never meant to be ingested.

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