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A step-by-step guide to light and put out backflow incense cones

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Incense has a long history in almost all regions of the world. Over time, the form of incense we use has evolved from dried wood and resin pieces, to ground powder that is mixed and dried into different shapes. There are several types of incense in use today, and we have previously shared a guide on how to use stick incense, the most popular form.

As many of you know, here at Kin we also have quite a collection of backflow incense burners. We have always enjoyed the downward flowing plumes of backflow incense, and the way they can be guided and directed to form rather mesmerizing scenery. However, as they are not widely used, today we will be sharing a step-by-step guide for lighting backflow incense cones.

What are backflow incense cones and how do they work?

Backflow incense cones are exactly as the name suggests – cone shaped incense where the incense smoke (or plume) flows in the opposite direction as “normal” incense, that is, downwards instead of upwards. This is because the incense cone has a small, hollow tunnel through the center, ending in a hole at the bottom center.

This is how we think backflow incense works: incense smoke is actually more dense than normal air at room temperature because it contains tiny smoke particles. But when a normal incense is lit, smoke flows upwards because hot air is lighter than room-temperature air. In the case of a backflow incense cone, smoke enters the hollow center tunnel, where it cools as it follows the along the path. When smoke cools, it becomes denser, so when it exits the incense cone at the bottom, it flows gently downwards.

Below you’ll see a video of the backflow incense cone in action:

Lighting backflow incense cones

Despite its unusual form, lighting a backflow incense is actually very similar to lighting a stick incense. Below you'll see a video demonstration, and a set of written instructions underneath.

* This video uses the Kin Valley of Fog backflow incense burner

Detailed instructions:

  1. Hold the incense cone with one hand or with some tweezers
  1. Light pointy end of the incense cone with a match or lighter as you would a candle wick. Ensure that the incense is immersed in the flame until it ignites with a small flame (note the flame may not say lit as it might on a stick incense)
  1. Gently fan or blow out the flame or remnants of the flame
  1. Check the incense tip where the flame was. If you see a small glowing ember, and smoke starts coming out of the bottom, then the incense has been correctly lit. If you're unsure, leave the incense for a minute or so, then check again. If you do not see a glowing ember, and there is no smoke coming out of the bottom, you have completely extinguished the incense by accident, and will need to repeat steps 1-3 above
  1. Place it into the incense holder. Be sure that the hole at the bottom of the incense aligns with the hole on the seat of the incense holder, or the incense plume will be blocked

Putting out backflow incense cones

Once lit, it is difficult to put out a backflow incense cone and keep it for use at a later time (as we often do with our stick incense).

While we do not recommend the use of water for putting out stick incense, we do recommend it for backflow incense. The best way to put out a cone that has not been fully burnt is to immerse it into a cup of water. Just note though that once you do this, you will have to discard the cone, it cannot be used again.

A few words of caution

As with all things flammable, we do want to remind you that you should take care in using incense. There are a few things you should be aware of:

  • Please ensure you put the incense on surface that is heat-resistant, and no flammable items like curtains or books are near where the ashes can drop 
  • Please ensure that you do not leave the incense unattended
  • Please place incense out of reach of children or pets
  • Do not touch remnants of the incense right after it has finished burning. Also do not touch metal parts of the incense burner right after burning. Both of these may still be hot. Give them several minutes to cool down

Of course, if you have any other questions about how to use stick incense, please feel free to leave us a note in comments.

Otherwise, enjoy!



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