how to put out incense

Extinguishing with Ease: How to Safely Put Out Incense


The rich scent of incense has danced through the annals of history, serving as a beacon for meditation, relaxation, and spiritual practice. From the ancient temples of Babylon to the modern meditation spaces of today, incense has kindled human senses and connected souls to the ethereal.

Why are we focusing on the seemingly mundane act of putting out incense? The answer lies in the inherent risks that come with improperly extinguishing it. The sensual trails of aromatic smoke that fill our senses also carry potential hazards when not handled correctly. This guide is designed to illuminate the path for those who seek to understand “how to put out incense” in a manner that’s both safe and respectful to the ancient practice.

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Table of Contents

how to put out incense

The Do’s and Don’ts of Incense Extinguishing

For quick reference, here’s a snapshot of essential points to remember:

  • Do ensure the ember is entirely out before leaving it unattended.
  • Don’t blow directly onto the ember, risking ash scatter.
  • Do use specialized tools for a safer extinguishing experience.
  • Don’t leave burning incense near flammable objects or in reach of children and pets.

Steps to Safely Put Out Incense

1. Using an Incense Holder: Before even lighting your incense, having a reliable holder can be your first step to ensure safety. A well-crafted holder not only presents a stable platform for your incense but also contains the ash and ensures the ember is away from flammable materials.

Recommendations: From minimalist ceramic holders to ornate wooden designs, there’s a world of options. For a curated list of reliable and aesthetic holders, click here.

2. Gently Tapping the Burning End: Once you’ve finished enjoying the aromatic embrace of the incense, you can put it out by gently tapping the burning end against a fire-resistant surface. This method is subtle and allows you to preserve the remaining part of the incense for future use. However, be sure to tap gently to avoid breaking the stick or cone.

3. Smothering the Ember: For those who prefer a hands-off approach, smothering the ember offers a convenient alternative. A small dish filled with sand or ash is perfect for this purpose. Simply invert the incense stick or cone into the sand, ensuring the burning end is fully covered. The lack of oxygen will naturally extinguish the ember.

4. Using a Fire Extinguisher or Water (only in emergencies): In situations where the incense might pose an immediate danger, having a fire extinguisher at hand can be life-saving. However, it’s essential to understand the correct way to use a fire extinguisher. Water can also be used to douse the ember, but it’s not a recommended everyday method as it can create a mess and ruin the incense’s aroma.

Understanding Incense and Its Uses

A Brief History: Long before our modern-day perfumes and air fresheners, ancient civilizations turned to incense as a means of communicating with the divine, marking significant ceremonies, or simply elevating the atmosphere of their dwellings. From the spiritual corridors of Asian temples to the sacred spaces of the Middle East, the enchanting aroma of burning herbs, resins, and woods has been cherished for millennia. If you’re keen on a deeper dive into how different cultures have woven incense into their tapestry of traditions and beliefs, this article on its cultural significance and spiritual practices offers a captivating read.

The most commonly used:

  • Sticks: The most common form, these are slender sticks coated with incense material, perfect for a steady and consistent burn.
  • Cones: Pyramid or cone-shaped incense that often produces a richer, denser smoke.
  • Resin: Often considered the purest form of incense, these are hardened aromatic gums from trees, usually burned on charcoal discs.

Read our blog post, “The Different Types of Incense Explained,” for more information on all the different types of incense out there.

Why It’s Essential to Extinguish Incense Properly

Fire Safety: The tranquil appearance of a softly burning incense stick can be deceptive. Left unattended or improperly extinguished, it can be a potential fire hazard. Every year, there are reports of household fires originating from forgotten incense. By ensuring our incense is safely put out, we can enjoy its benefits without the accompanying risks.

how to put out incense

Health and Air Quality: Beyond the immediate fire risks, there’s also the matter of air quality. When an incense stick or cone burns to completion, it often leaves behind a tiny ember that continues to smolder, producing smoke that, over time, can affect indoor air quality. Properly extinguishing incense ensures that we’re not unknowingly filling our homes with lingering smoke.

Optimizing the Incense Experience: Did you know that correctly putting out your incense can actually enhance its aromatic output? An incense stick or cone that’s allowed to burn completely often loses some of its most delicate scent notes. By controlling its burn time, you can savor its fragrance more fully during each use.

extinguish incense

Mistakes to Avoid When Extinguishing Incense

1. Blowing Directly on the Incense: While it might seem intuitive, blowing directly onto burning incense can scatter ash, creating a mess. Moreover, the force can sometimes intensify the ember instead of extinguishing it.

2. Leaving Incense Unattended: The golden rule of any flame-involved activity: never leave it unattended. Even if you’re stepping out for just a minute, ensure the incense is safely extinguished.

3. Using Flammable Materials as a Base: Avoid placing your incense on or near materials like paper, cloth, or dried plants. The stray ash or a too-close ember can quickly ignite these materials.

4. Ignoring Indoor Air Quality: While incense imparts a delightful aroma, it’s essential to be mindful of indoor air quality. Ensure the room is well-ventilated.

Tools to Aid in Safe Extinguishing

Just as a craftsman is only as good as their tools, the incense aficionado can benefit from specialized accessories designed to optimize and ensure the safety of their aromatic experience.

Incense Extinguishers:
A small bell-shaped tool made usually of brass or metal. Its primary purpose? To snuff out the incense’s ember without scattering ash or causing a mess. Gently placing the extinguisher over the burning end suffocates the flame, ensuring a clean finish. For those frequently enjoying incense, this is a worthy investment.

how to put

Ash Catchers:
A two-fold tool – while primarily designed to catch the ash as your incense burns, many ash catchers are also shaped to help in safely extinguishing your incense. By pressing the burning end into the accumulated ash, you snuff out the ember.

Tips for Cleaning After Extinguishing

A crucial yet often overlooked part of the incense experience is the post-burn cleanup. Keeping your incense space tidy not only shows respect for the ritual but also ensures a fresh start each time you light up.

  • Safe Ash Disposal: Once cooled, ash can be safely disposed of in the trash. For the eco-conscious, consider mixing it into plant soil as a form of compost.
  • Cleaning Burners and Holders: Regular cleaning prevents ash buildup and maintains the purity of each fragrance. A simple wipe with a damp cloth after each session or a more thorough clean with mild soap weekly can keep your burners in top shape.
  • Storing Unused Incense: Preserve the potency of your incense by storing it in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight. Consider using zip-lock bags or dedicated incense boxes to retain freshness.
how to put out


Incense, a tool as ancient as time, resonates with the rhythms of our souls. From spiritual practices to meditation sessions to simply inviting tranquility into our homes, the delicate trails of incense smoke have often been our companions. Yet, like all fires, it demands respect. Understanding how to put out incense is not just about prolonging the fragrance or saving on waste; it’s about honoring the very essence of this tradition and ensuring the safety of our surroundings.

The journey of incense is not a mere burn-and-forget experience. It’s an act of mindfulness from the moment the flame touches its tip to the second it’s safely extinguished. With the insights and tips shared in this guide, we hope to have illuminated the path to a safer, richer, and more aromatic incense experience.

To our readers, whether you’re a seasoned incense practitioner or a curious newbie, we invite you to share your insights, experiences, and any innovative methods you’ve discovered in your incense journey. By collectively sharing knowledge, we can enhance and preserve the beauty and safety of this age-old aromatic tradition.

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The heart and spirit behind "Let’s Talk Spirituality," an explorer, healer, and dreamer who's journeyed through life's intricate pathways. My experiences have shaped a sanctuary where souls can find their harmonious connection with the cosmos.

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