Why Does Incense Smoke Fall? What Is Back Flow Incense?

There are few aromas more enticing and spiritual than incense. The thick smoke is completely haunting and wonderful and brings up memories of religious ceremonies, exotic places and even spiritual shops and stores. One of the questions that have always bugged me is the smoke. If you’ve ever seen a cool incense Bruner that sends the smoke flooding down, you may wonder why that works. So why does incense smoke fall?

The incense smoke that falls is actually back flow incense. It works via a cool chemical trick, smoke from combustion that creates hot air has less density than cool air. The back flow incense burner will have a small hole allowing the incense smoke to fall down the hole.

Why Does Incense Smoke Fall? 

Cone incense will be the main focus of this article because they create a downward smoke effect. GrandaWood did a little experiment to show the smoke falling. The experiment went like this:

  1. First, they showed the differences for both incenses. Stick incense is equally balanced in sense compared to cone incense, which shuts off midway through the burning process (more about this later). Both incense also has different weights: stick incense weight depends on the size, but for their example, it is 0.14 per stick. Cone incense weighs 1.97, 14 times more weight than the sticks. But the real question is why does cone incense stop midway? That will be explained throughout the rest of the explanation.
  2. In the explanation, they divided the cone up into four parts. The trick is that the first part of the cone incense should be burned first before putting out the flame. The incense will burn itself without the need for flames.
  3. Once they get the flame going on the incense, they made sure that the incense has an intense flame. They waited five to ten seconds before putting the flame out.
  4. From there, they show you the photos of their observations. It shows the perfect tip of the cone incense then underneath that picture they show the incense burnt halfway down. You will notice in the photos the smoke is falling. If the incense is set up correctly, it will burn completely. They also show in the article that the cone incense has a hole.

In conclusion, incense smoke falls because smoke from combustion that creates hot air has less density than cool air. This is further explained in the article which shows the smoke in a bottle. From the flame, the smoke does rise, however, when it is in the bottle, the smoke goes down. That’s because there is no hot air in the bottle.

How Does Backflow Incense Work?

Both stick and cone incense are different. Stick incense smoke goes up and typically leaves ashes everywhere unlike cone incense, which doesn’t leave a mess of ashes. Cone incense also has smoke going down. As we mentioned previously in the last section, cone incense has a hole at the bottom.

This hole is significant for why smoke falls rather than rising. Unlike stick incense, cone incense needs a special tool to work known as the backflow incense burners. The reason for the hole at the bottom of the base of the cone is so it can create an effect when it is in the backflow incense burner.

This is what creates the incense. The backflow incense burners are used for mediation and stress reduction. That is how backflow incense works. Compared to stick incense, backflow incense is better for a few reasons:

  • Backflow incense doesn’t make a mess compared to stick incense
  • It gives your house an aesthetic feeling
  • Like we mentioned above, backflow incense is good if you ever do mediation or need something to release stress

Now that we answered these two questions on how and why backflow incense happens and works, let us now go over how to use backflow incense.

How To Use Backflow Incense:

Do you want to use a backflow incense burner? Don’t worry, here you will find a step-by-step guide on how to use a backflow incense burner and cone incense.

  1. The first thing to do is to buy a backflow incense burner. Burners come in different designs: waterfalls and dragons are two examples of incense burners you can buy. Once you get an incense burner, you need to put it in an appropriate place. It needs to be indoors that is free from drafts and cross-wind. Both can disturb the smoke. Close any windows and place them away from any air conditioners. That way, the smoke will create a perfect cascade.
  2. When you find the perfect place for your backflow incense burner, it is time to light a cone! Hold the cone in one hand while your other hand lights the flame. Hold the cone with a firm grip keeping your fingers away from the flame. From there, tilt the cone to a 45-degree angle. Hold the cone at that angle until the flame is on the cone. That way, it will be easier to light the cone and will make the tip burn off completely. 
  3. Now that you got the cone burning, wait until the top third of it is completely burned off before blowing out the flame. This will ensure that the cone will burn evenly and will create clouds. While the cone is burning, you could also rotate the cone, but do it carefully. 
  4. Now to position the cone incense into the burner, make sure that the hole that is at the bottom of the base is perfectly lined with the hole in the burner. This will make the smoke come down from the incense burner. 

And there you have it! This is how you use a backflow incense burner and cone. It is easy to set up and to do. On the other hand, there are some safety measures to take when using cones and a backflow incense burner that we are going to talk about in the next section. 

Is Backflow Incense Dangerous?: 

Some incense cones have dangerous chemicals. To ensure that you don’t buy a product that is not dangerous to your health, always buy high-quality backflow cones that will keep you safe from dangerous chemicals. 

Why do my candles sink in the middl... x
Why do my candles sink in the middle?

The best way to avoid dangerous incense cones is to do some research into some of the ingredients. That will tell you if the product is safe to use. Besides the cones, you also should be careful with the burners. Here are three safety tips to take when using your burner.

  • Put the backflow incense burner on a hard surface that is stable enough to hold your incense burner. The surface shouldn’t tip over or be knocked over into a high traffic area
  • Always burn the incense in a place where kids and pets won’t reach it. Both kids and pets will be interested in the incense and it will cause harm to your child or animal’s nostrils. So put it in a high place. 
  • Keep flammable fabrics and materials away from the incense burner as this will create a fire. 

These are the safety tips you need to know when using a backflow incense burner. 

Other Questions About Backflow Incense: 

Can I Reuse Incense Cones?:

Like other incense, cones can only be used once. The good thing with cones, however, is that they take 20 minutes to burn completely, giving you enough time to meditate. Please ensure to store you cones properly so that they retain their aroma.

Why Does My Cone Don’t Stay Lit: 

There are two reasons why this happens: the cone incense doesn’t get enough oxygen to keep it burning or the cones are not dry enough to keep the flame going. While it is true that you need to keep your incense away from air, fire does need oxygen to keep it burning, so make sure it is in an area that has enough fresh air. 

As for the cones, you need to keep them in a dry, cool place. Your cone might’ve picked up too much moisture that it won’t keep the flame on it. To undo the moisture, leave them out in the sun for a few minutes. 

The Smoke Effect Is Not Happening: 

If you are not getting the smoke effect, there are three reasons why the smoke is not going down: 

  • The Holes Are Not Lined Up: Make sure that both the hole in the bottom of the cone and the hole in the burner are perfectly lined up. Otherwise, it won’t create the downward smoke effect! 
  • The Flame Didn’t Go Down Enough In The Channel Hole: The cone should be burned a third the way down from the tip before you blow out the flame. Do it too early will not create the smoke effect. 
  • You Put The Burner In A Drafty Area: Windows or air conditioner invites air to the burner. While fire needs oxygen to keep it going, too much will prevent the smoke effect from happening. 


Backflow incense is caused by the density of air. Hot air has less density than cool air, therefore, hot air would rise smoke from the flame but cool air would go down due to having less density. It also happens because of the hole that is in the cone. The hole is used to connect with the burner that is used for creating the incense.  You can try making your own incense of you feel confident enough, check here to find out how.

Backflow incense burners and cones are better than sticks in some instances. For example, they make less of a mess of ashes compared to sticks. Using a burner is easy, but make sure that you follow the step-by-step guide mentioned here to ensure that it works. We hope this article helped you understand how to use backflow incense!

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