Burning of Incense
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Burning of Incense – An Age-Old Tradition

Incense burn two different ways – direct burning and indirect burning

There are different ways of burning incense, depending on the type of incense used. There are two main types of incense – indirect burning and direct burning incense.

Indirect burning or non-combustible incense cannot burn on its own, requiring a separate heat source to burn. Non-combustible comes in the following forms:

  • Whole incense
  • Powder incense
  • Paste

Direct burning of combustible incense is lit using a flame and then blown out to leave a glowing ember that continues to smolder while releasing its smoky fragrance. Combustible burning incense is the most common type and comes in the following forms:

  • Cored stick (which is common)
  • Solid stick form or dhoop, which is best used for offering in temples
  • Cone
  • Coil
  • Powder
  • Paper
  • Rope

This blog will focus on the most common incense – the combustible stick form.


Table of content:


How to burn incense stick?

Burning an incense stick is not hard. However, if not done correctly, could end in a disaster. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how you can burn an incense stick safely:

  1. Prepare your incense holder. You cannot burn an incense stick without a holder. Use a fireproof holder. Some holders are not applicable for solid stick incense.  
  2. You can use any ceramic or metal bowl (or jar). If you have a jar filled with accumulated old incense ash, well and good. If it is your first, then you can fill it with clean, fine sand. Some incense stores also sell boat-type incense-burner or ash-catcher. However, note that this type of incense burner is best only for cored stick incense.
  3. You can hold the end of the stick or place it on the incense burner to light it up but keep the incense stick angled upwards and steady.
  4. Light the stick using a match or a lighter the way you would light a candle. Keep the incense stick immersed in the flame until it ignites with a small flame at the end.
  5. Let the stick burn with the flame for 10 to 15 seconds, then, gently fan the flame out. You can also blow out the flame but in some cultures, blowing out is like spitting on the incense, which they consider disrespectful.
  6. Check the end of the stick to check if it has a glowing ember. Wait a minute or two for the scent to waft. This indicates if you lit the incense stick correctly. If you do not find any of these indicators, then repeat steps to light it once more. Remember, you are just fanning out the flame and not extinguishing it.
  7. Once properly lit, place the incense stick on your incense burner or holder. Make sure the incense stick is within the boundaries of your burner or holder so that it can collect all the ash from your burnt stick.
  8. You can now sit back, relax and enjoy the scent from your burning incense.
  9. The last step is putting out the incense stick. This step is something that most people often forget because many incense sticks often burn down into ashes. However, if our incense stick is not burnt down into ashes, you can press the tip of the glowing ember on a fireproof surface until it dies down and break. You can also cut or snip the end-tip that is still glowing. Make sure the ember has died down to avoid the danger of starting a fire.
How to burn incense stick

How many incense sticks to burn a day?

Feng shui origins are associated with Taoism, but many feng shui schools are rooted in Tibetan Buddhism. According to feng shui rules, incense sticks to burn should be in odd numbers – one, three, five, and seven. This is because odd numbers are positive numbers, while even numbers are negative numbers. Positive numbers bring goodwill and luck.

The average length of an incense stick is 21 centimeters and burns down up to an hour. The scent emitted by the incense lasts for 24 hours. If you are burning the incense stick for relaxation and no specific purpose, one incense stick a day is ideal. This is if you are burning the incense stick inside your room. The bigger your room is, the more incense you need. A house would need two incense sticks, and a large studio (like a yoga studio) would require 3 incense sticks.

However, do not confuse this with the odd numbers rule. You are still lighting one incense stick but just placing them in various areas of your house. The odd numbers rule applies to one bunch of incense sticks that you offer in one area or on an altar. Each number represents a symbolic value.

Another consideration is the strength of its scent. If you are using a strong fragrance, it is advisable to place the incense sticks scattered around your house or studio. Do not mix different scents simultaneously. If you want to switch to a new smell, clear the place of the old scent first for at least a week before introducing a different incense scent.

Burning one incense stick represents unity – the entirety or the whole. A fusion of principles from both man and woman. In Buddhism, lighting one incense stick means releasing the incense of the heart.

In feng shui, burning three sticks represent the three realms – human, earth, and heaven. In Buddhism, it translates to equilibrium, stability, and infinity.

The five incense sticks represent the five elements – earth, metal, wood, fire, water. In Buddhism, it is used to worship spirits and deities.

Burning seven incense sticks is used to worship the Hindu god Brahma.

Burning nine sticks is used to worship a rishi or preacher.

How many incense sticks to burn a day

How many incense sticks to burn for good luck?

Life can get tough sometimes, and you get overwhelmed. When you are overwhelmed, you become discouraged, depressed, and ready to give up. This creates negative energy within and around you. Nothing seems to be going right for you, and you blame it on bad luck.

There is no good or bad luck. Luck is a game of chance, which means you can control it. It is negative energy disrupting your balance. Negative energy affects you, and you can push it out by bringing in positive energy.

You can turn this around. Light three incense sticks in one bunch to attract positive energy to change your luck.

You also need to consider the incense scent you will use when choosing your incense sticks. Certain incense scents can attract additional positive energy. Incense sticks with sweet scents are associated with good luck.

  • Frankincense is a favorite choice for many, although some find it a bit overpowering.
  • You can choose a variety of incense scents. Scents like rosemary and sandalwood have cleansing properties that help get rid of negative energy.
  • Chamomile has healing and relaxing properties that can help get rid of toxic, negative energy. Simply light three incense sticks in chamomile scent to enjoy its benefits.
  • Cinnamon attracts good emotional well-being. It helps combat your depressive state caused by the presence of negative energy. The sweet cinnamon scent will not be too overpowering when you light three incense sticks in this fragrance.
  • White sage is known for its cleansing and purifying properties. Native Americans have been burning white sage to drive away negative energy. If you light three white sage-scented incense sticks, you will lose all the negative energy surrounding you.
  • Frangipani is another incense scent that brings in good luck. Lighting three frangipani scented incense sticks can bring calm, balance, and good cheer. It can also help balance and relax your body, mind, and spirit.
How many incense sticks to burn for good luck

How many incense sticks to burn for the dead?

The practice is lighting one incense stick to honor the dead, but lighting three incense sticks is more appropriate during funeral ceremonies. The smoke coming from the incense is believed to send an emotional message to heaven when you burn incense sticks. This shows reverence and respect for the departed ones.

Traditionally, Frankincense and myrrh are the usual incense scents used during funerals. The Catholic Church considers these incense scents as both sanctifying and purifying. The incense is used during the final blessing of the coffin. The Catholic Church usually uses powder incense instead of sticks.

In Buddhist funerals, burning incense sticks has two functions – to purify the surrounding areas and the funeral attendees and to calm the spirit of the person who died. Attendees are encouraged to light incense sticks.

  • Most Buddhist funerals have the scent of sandalwood. Lighting incense sticks with sandalwood scents can help calm your mind while keeping it alert. Buddha was cremated in sandalwood. This is probably why Buddhists prefer using sandalwood during funerals.
  • Another popular incense scent is copal. Copal has a sweet, piney, citrusy, crisp scent. Traditionally, copal incense help in spiritual cleansing; to purify, protect, and help clear the negative energy. Lighting copal incense helps create a connection to the spiritual realm. Lighting one incense stick with a copal scent during the day of the dead is an ancient tradition in Mesoamerica that is still in practice now.
  • Marigold flowers are also called flowers of the dead. It is believed that the scent of marigolds helps attract the souls of the dead to your altar. To honor the dead, you can light one incense stick with a marigold scent and place it on your altar offering.
  • Other scents like lavender, cedar, peppermint, and thyme are also popular scents associated with incense sticks. The Egyptian mummification process used oils in these scents to preserve the dead.
How many incense sticks to burn for the dead

How many incense sticks to burn for money?

Prosperity is everyone’s desire and having a lot of money is one of the best signs of wealth and prosperity. However, money does not come from good luck but from having positive energy around you.

Surrounding yourself with positive energy will attract positive vibes and thus giving you a good life. A good life includes prosperity and money. To attract positive energy, you need to light three incense sticks. The smoke coming from the incense sticks will attract positive energy that can translate into money.

Certain incense scents can help you attract money even more.

  • Clove incense scent helps remove your abundance blocks. It helps release your fears about money or the fear of losing money. Lighting three incense sticks of this scent will help make you feel that the universe is behind you.
  • Cinnamon is one of the most favorite incense scents because of its sweet fragrance. It attunes your consciousness to the frequency of abundance and plenty. Lighting three incense sticks with a cinnamon scent will remind you that you are deserving of the great things in life, including money.
  • Another scent that can attract money is patchouli. Light three incense sticks in patchouli scent to ground yourself and align you with all of the earth’s richness. Patchouli will remove all blocks to allow all blessings to flow continuously.
  • Vanilla is another sweet scent that helps align you with the positive energy of money. Light three vanilla-scented incense sticks to make you feel at home and safe in the power of the universe.
  • Light three pine-scented incense sticks to awaken your intuitive nature so that you instinctively know what to do to increase the flow of your wealth. Pine scent provides an infusion of luck and lasting affluence.
  • Vetiver is a perennial grass plant whose root contains the oil used in perfume. Vetiver scented incense helps long-standing blocks related to abundance and money. Past traumas can make you feel disconnected. Burn three incense sticks in vetiver scent to help bring back your feeling of being grounded. You can change your past and help you get over the cycle of deprivation, self-sabotage, and struggle that keeps you from tapping your prosperous flow.
How many incense sticks to burn for money?

Incense is typically made of plant-based materials that include a variety of barks, resins, flowers, seeds, and roots.

Burning incense is an age-old tradition that many belief connects them to the universe and beyond. The number of incense sticks to burn varies, depending on the purpose and traditional beliefs of each religion and culture. One thing is clear, the smoke emitted by the incense stick is a silent message sent to heaven.

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