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Types of Incense Burners – A Detailed Guide to Burning Incense

Incense Burner

Last Updated on January 17, 2024 by IncenseJunction

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The burning of incense is among the oldest traditions on our planet. It is something that has been done for many years in very many cultures. There are different reasons why people burn incense including meditation, spiritual purposes, as well as for certain rituals.

Incense burners, also known as censers, are gaining more popularity as time goes by. There are many types of incense burners in the market right now, each with its unique features, size, and design. If you are thinking of buying a burner but do not know where to begin or what to choose, you are in the right place.

This post highlights the different types of incense burners, to give you a grasp of the different types and allow you to find one that is perfect for you. Let’s get started.

What are Incense Burners?

An incense burner is also known as an aroma burner or a pastille burner. It is a small vessel designed to help in the consumption of fragrance or incense in a strong structure. Different types of incense burners have different sizes, materials, and structures, as well as applicable occasions.

You can find some that are made like ceramic dishes, or even those that are made using gold or silver cut in complicated designs. Most incense holder types feature a design that allows for a steady and even distribution and flow of air.

Incense burners are mainly made to allow incense to be burned properly and safely in a house. It prevents any messes from building up and ensures that your house is safe from fires that might arise. Additionally, they are very appealing to look at. They are great decorative additions to your house.

Different Types of Incense Burners

We have selected a list of all the incense holder types out there in the market to help you find the one that would work best for your incense type. Here we go.

Ash Catchers/ Boat Burners

Ash Catchers Boat Burners

Of all types of incense burners, this is the most popular type and is found in most households that burn incense sticks. It is among the types designed to hold incense sticks that have bamboo reeds at their core.

In regards to design, it is quite simple since it is a small wood that is curved on one side. The curved part features one or more holes where you put the bamboo reed. Even though wood is the most common type of material used, it is not the only one. Glass, bone, stone, ceramic, and aluminum ash catchers are also available. In most cases, they are inlaid with some brass and are painted for beauty.

Bowl Shaped Incense Burner

As you can tell from the name, this burner is quite simple and in the shape of a bowl. What you need to know is that this bowl can be a very simple and elegant brass or ceramic bowl with a sort of screen top. It can also be an ornate censer with a lid.

Using this incense burner is very simple because all you would require is to add some ash at the bottom of the bowl and your incense burner is ready to use.

Box/Coffin Burners

This is a versatile ash catcher that might, in most cases, include a storage box under it. On many occasions, this type of burner is made using wood that is hand-carved and decorated to make it more appealing. You will find a range of designs and markings on this type of burner.

Most of the box burners are from India and might feature decorative elements or brass hardware.

Also, read: How to Use Coffin Incense Burner

Tower Incense Burners

Tower incense burners are among the burner types that are mainly made in India. In some cases, the top of this burner features decorative ornamental designs that allow smoke to drift through. The smoke also drifts through the sides.

The bottom of the burner is removed so that you can place incense on it.

Coil Burners

If you leave a coil on a flat and hard surface, chances are, it will go off shortly. That is why you would need a coil burner because it allows air to flow continuously around the coil, allowing continuous burning.

The most common design features some prongs on which the coil is placed. But if you have a coil and do not have a burner, you do not need to worry. Placing it on a bed of ash should work perfectly.

Cone Incense Burners

Cones will burn completely until there is nothing left but ash. For that reason, it is dangerous to burn them on some unprotected wood. Certain wooden burners have metal inserts that will protect the wood. A bowl designed with a wide mouth can have a lid or not and will work perfectly for burning cone incense.

You should have burners that are wide, around 3 inches so that you can place the cone inside without burning your hands. Additionally, the burner should be deep so that ash or sand can be added inside. One inch should be adequate. That allows you to protect it from excess heat and still improve the flow of the air under the lit cone.

In case you are interested in a lid, you can go for a large burner that has proper ventilation and the cone will burn well. You need to clean the chosen lid regularly to ensure that resins and oils do not build up. When the resins and oil are seasoned on the lid, the scent will be produced whenever you heat the lid. It will become part of all fragrances after that.

Electric Incense Burners

Electric burners are a new type of burner that has an amazing way of burning resin and giving you the aroma that you need. They do not require any fire to be lit. All you will be required to do is to place the resin you need to burn in the burner and turn it on.

In most cases, these burners will have adjustable temperatures and other safety features such as automatic shutoff timers. Of all the different types of incense burners, this is the safest and easiest to use.

Backflow Incense Burners

Backflow incense burners have made things very different when it comes to burning incense. You will not only get a chance to enjoy the amazing aroma of the incense but also get visual pleasure from the smoke effect, and different smoke meanings.

Their operation is very straightforward. You simply have to place a cone at the designated spot and when the cone burns, the smoke flows down a set path.

Also, read: Best Backflow Incense Burners For Christmas

Hanging Spiral Burners

Hanging Spiral Burners

The hanging spiral incense burner can suspend a spiral incense in the air as it should be. That way, it will spiral downward because of its weight. These incense holder types are not easy to find. If you do not know if it is easy to find one, make sure to ask.

They have a rod with a sort of hook at its end with a plate under it to hold the ash that falls.

Stone And Clay Incense Burners

There are different shapes, sizes, and colors of stone and clay burners. Some have two holes for two incense sticks. These holes have different sizes for different types of incense. Some of the burners will be able to hold incense cones. Make sure to put the burner on a tile or a surface resistant to heat.

Smudge Bowls and Pots

There are smudge bowls that are created for cradling smudge bundles. Some are great for burning resins or loose herbs on charcoal. But before you decide to use the bowl, you need to ensure that it is completely fireproof.

In case you want to use charcoal tablets, you should ensure that you have added some ash or sand at the bottom so that it is insulated.

Abalone Shells

An abalone shell will make a great vessel for holding sticks and other incense forms. It is a type of incense burner that can be used to hold resins, as well as loose herbs. It is important to add some sand or as at its bottom. Two inches should be adequate.

Brass Incense Burner

Brass burners might feature a screen top that makes it the perfect combination burner. The screen can be used for tiny smudge sticks, rope incense, as well as burn cones.

This type of burner is also great for burning incense using charcoal tablets. It works even better if you burn different types of incense. In case your burner does not have a screen top, try using a metal screen and bend it until a level platform is formed, around one inch above the sand.

Japanese Incense Burner (Koro)

This is simply a traditional incense burner from Japan.

Resin Incense Burners

This is the type of burner that will be used to burn resin, powdered or even loose and granulated incense. It can be anything including a bowl-shaped burner. Make sure to add around two inches of ash or sand at the bottom for the best results.

How to Choose and Use the Correct Incense Burners

If you’re ready to dive into the world of incense, there are two fundamental items you’ll need to get. The first is your preferred incense, and the second is the suitable incense burner.

These items might be lovely additions to your house, but they also serve a crucial function in safely and properly burning incense. As a result, it’s critical that you conduct your research before selecting the right incense burner.

The sort of incense you want to use is the first thing you should think about since this will define the type of incense burner that will work best for you.

Cone Incense

incense cones

If you want to burn incense cones in your house, the ideal burner will most likely be a brass burner with a lid that can resist the heat while still being decorative. Because incense cones will totally burn down, you’ll need to select a container that can store all of the ash and withstand the heat of the burning process.

In this case, a brass pot will suffice, and if properly cared for, it will serve you well for a long time. In this scenario, the most important factor to consider when purchasing an incense burner is the size. It’s ideal to ignite the cone before putting it in the pot, so make sure the opening is big enough for your hand to fit through without getting burned.

A larger pot will also ensure that the incense will not go out when the lid is placed on the top.

Stick Incense

Incense Sticks

Another popular alternative today is stick incense, which requires a different sort of incense burner than cone incense. The most common stick incense burner is a boat, which is essentially a flat piece of wood with one end bent up. This end has a small hole where you can insert the raw end of the incense stick, and the incense burner’s long extension is there to capture the ash as it burns down.

Another popular stick incense burner is a tree, which typically has several holes and may accommodate more than one incense stick at a time. Both of these categories of holders are smart investments. if you’re planning to use a lot of incense sticks.

Loose Incense

Typically, loose incense is smoked over a brass pot that resembles a little charcoal grill. Sand is placed at the bottom of the pot, and a small metal screen is set on top of it. Tiny charcoal bricks are set on the screen and lit, and this is where your incense is burned. Because the burning process might generate carbon monoxide into the air, this type of incense burner should be used with sufficient ventilation.


  • Are backflow incense burners safe? Are incense burners a fire hazard?

Yes, backflow incense burners are safe to use in your home or office if you follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully. You should never leave an open flame unattended, even for a moment. It’s also important that you never leave any flammable materials near an open flame as this may cause a fire hazard.

  • Does Walmart sell incense burners?

Yes, Walmart does sell incense burners. They come in many different styles, colors, and materials.

Walmart sells incense burners in a variety of sizes and prices. Some have intricate designs that may be more expensive than others. All of them are made from different materials such as glass, wood, resin, or metal.

Walmart has some of the best prices on incense burners anywhere online.

  • How do electric incense burners work?

Electric incense burners are convenient, easy to use, and can be used indoors or outdoors. They make it easy to enjoy the soothing aroma of incense without the mess and hassle of traditional incense burners.

Electric incense burners are powered by electricity and include an electric coil that heats up when plugged in, warming a metal plate that sits above the burner’s bowl. The heat from this metal plate causes the fragrance oils in your incense to evaporate quickly, producing a fragrant aroma in your place.

  • How do church incense burners work?

The answer is that it depends on the type of incense burner you’re dealing with. The most basic incense burners are called censors. Censors are just containers for the incense, but they also have a small hole at one end that allows air to flow through the burning material. This helps keep the flames burning evenly while allowing them to be controlled by blowing on them.

Another type of burner is known as a thurible, which is essentially a censer with a swinging chain attached to it so that it can be swung around by hand. Thuribles are used in some Christian churches during services, particularly when incense is used as part of an offering or prayer. For more info read our comparison between Censer vs. Thurible here.

  • What kind of sand do you use for incense burners?

Sand is the most common material used for incense burners. This can be any kind of sand, although some people prefer a certain kind. For example, some people use colored sand that has been dyed with food coloring. Other people use white sand because they like how it reflects light.

You can also use other materials in your incense burner aside from sand. Some people like to use rocks pebbles, or rice instead of sand in their burners. The advantage of using rocks or pebbles is that they are easier to clean than sand.

You can also use dirt or ash instead of sand if you want an earthy look for your burner.

also, read: How to Burn Incense Sticks without a Holder


If you like burning incense in your home, then you would require an incense burner. There are different types of incense burners in the market, all of which are very effective. We recommend that you find one that is not only appealing to the eye but also versatile. Make sure that burning incense does not bring around some hazards such as fire.

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