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Stick Incense Burners & Holders

A collection of modern stick incense holders (otherwise known as incense burners). Simple, elegant, balanced.


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Incense Sticks

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What is an incense burner or incense holder?

Most of the incense we use today are in the form of sticks, cones, or spirals, and we use them by lighting up one end and waiting for it to burn, which releases the fragrance. However in ancient times, incense was used in its original form – so leaves, wood, resins and animal products (like musk) were burnt directly, or heated with burning charcoal. So the container used for holding the burning incense or charcoal and incense was naturally named an incense burner. This name is still in use today for the objects designed to hold any type of incense while it is burning.

An incense holder is probably a more appropriate name for how we use incense today, and we use both names interchangeably. So an incense burner and an incense holder means the same thing, and it is an object that holds an incense, mostly for the purpose of the incense being burnt.

What is the purpose of an incense burner?

As mentioned above, in ancient times, the incense burner contained burning incense or burning charcoal and incense, so its purpose was to allow the incense to be burnt without damaging things around it, or causing a fire.

These days, the incense burner or holder is used mostly for the purpose of holding an incense upright while it is burning. They are designed to hold the incense so it can be fully burnt without being disturbed along the way (so for example, a stick incense is held on one end only). It of course also serves the same basic purpose of separating the burning incense from any surfaces or materials that might be damaged by the incense, or cause a fire.

What are incense holders called?

Traditionally an incense holder or incense burner is called a censer. However this name is not commonly in use today, and even when it is used, it mostly refers to thuribles – the metal incense holder carried with chains used by Catholics for worshipping purposes.  

What kind of incense burner is best?

The best incense burner is one that suits your home and your lifestyle best. And along these lines, we think the most important factors to consider are:

            1. The aesthetics of the piece and how it fits with the style of your home
      1. The types of incense the holder can accommodate, and whether this is suitable for your preferred incense
      2. How easy the incense burner is to care for and to clean
      3. Our incense stick holders have a minimal style, and are easy to care for. They are made mostly to accommodate Japanese and Chinese styles of incense – ie, the type without a bamboo core in the center.

How to choose the right shape for an incense stick holder?

If you want an incense holder that is sure to catch the ash of your incense sticks, we’d suggest that you choose a longer shaped incense holder which holds the incense at an angle. This will make cleaning up easier after burning incense sticks.

However, not all types of incense can be held up by these types of holders. If your preferred incense is particularly long or thick, you may need to go for a holder that stands the incense up. Some incense burners of this type can also catch the falling ash, but it is less predictable as it depends on the length of your incense.  

And of course, choosing the right shape also depends on what aesthetics you like and what fits with your home. If you like an upright incense burner, by all means go for it. You can simplify cleaning up in other ways – put down some paper under the incense burner before lighting up an incense, or invest in a little brush to brush away the falling ash.

Can you use incense sticks without a holder?

In our experience it is quite tricky to use incense sticks without a holder designed especially for this purpose, especially on a regular basis. We’ve seen DIY holders made from clips, foil and others, and used some ourselves when we’ve been caught out – at a friend’s place, one just broke, or couldn’t be bothered walking to get one from the other room… (you know the drill). But in our experience they never quite worked – you have to prop up the incense in a different way half way through because it’s tilting to the side, or it dropped the ash everywhere, or the incense was extinguished halfway through because something got in the way… one thing or another always goes wrong. So, we would whole-heartedly recommend investing in an incense burner, they are not only functional but can also look great on the table or shelf.

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We have created these instructional videos and step-by-step guides for lighting and putting out stick incense for all types of incense users to follow along. Whether you're brand new to incense, or have used incense before but are troubleshooting, we believe there will be something here to help you...


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The first recorded use of incense in human history was in ancient China, and for significant periods of Chinese history, incense was a treasured as an integral part of a person’s spiritual and physical life. It was drug, spice, perfume, and connector to otherworldly forces all in one. Here we provide an overview of incense use through Chinese history...

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This comprehensive incense introductory guide explains incense history, incense types, how incense is made, and its uses. Incense was used by ancient civilizations across the world. Today, incense sticks are the most popular form, although cones, coils and backflow cones are also readily available....


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