What Can I Use For Incense Holders?

Incense has been used for thousands of years in religious ceremonies, aromatherapy, and simple enjoyment of pleasant fragrances. The burning of incense releases aromatic smoke that many find calming and meditative. Incense comes in various forms like sticks, cones, coils, or loose powder. To fully experience the fragrance and optimize smoldering, incense is typically burned within a container known as an incense holder or burner. With the rising popularity of incense, there are now many options for incense holders made from various materials.

This article will provide an overview of the most common materials used for incense holders, discussing the advantages and considerations of each. From classic materials like clay and wood to more unique choices like seashells and glass, there are diverse incense holder options to match any style and space. With some guidance on selecting and caring for your incense holder, you can find the perfect vessel to elevate your incense experience.


Clay or ceramic is a popular material for incense holders because it absorbs scent well and slowly releases the aroma over time. The porous nature of fired clay soaks up the incense oils and smoke, allowing the fragrance to linger long after the incense has finished burning. Ceramic also comes in a vast array of decorative shapes, styles, and glazes to match any décor. From simple unglazed terra cotta pots to intricate hand-painted porcelain vases, ceramic incense holders add beauty while functionally holding incense sticks or cones.

High-fired ceramic holders stand up well to repeated use without cracking. Their hard, non-flammable surface won’t burn from incense ash and allows for easy cleaning. With proper care, a quality ceramic holder can last for many years of incense enjoyment.


Wood is a natural material that beautifully complements incense. Its earthy texture and natural aromas pair nicely with the scents of incense. Wood also helps absorb and contain the smoke. Cedar and sandalwood are popular choices for wooden incense holders due to their lovely natural scents that enhance many incense varieties without overpowering them.

Wooden incense holders come in many forms including boxes, bowls, and trays. Carved wood holders featuring cutouts or lattice work allow the incense smoke to waft through freely. Simple wooden trays can hold incense sticks, cones, or resins. Wooden boxes with sliding lids or doors provide convenient storage and prevent ashes from scattering.

Unfinished, untreated wood is best when using wood for incense holding. Avoid wood finished with stains, paints, and varnishes that could release fumes. Make sure any glues used are non-toxic when working with wood. Sanding wood lightly can help bring out its natural aroma.

Wood absorbs scent over time, so avoid overpowering woods like pine or strong rosewoods. Cedar’s clean, fresh aroma pairs with most incenses. Sandalwood’s distinctive sweet, woody fragrance also works well. Look for sustainably harvested woods when possible.


Crystals can make excellent incense holders due to their inherent energetic properties. Certain crystals like quartz are known to amplify energies, which can enhance the effects of incense. You’ll want to match the properties of your chosen crystal with the intention of the incense.

For example, rose quartz promotes self-love and emotional healing, so would pair nicely with incense intended to cultivate compassion. Clear quartz boosts energy, so can help anchor and disperse stimulating incense blends. Black tourmaline is protective, making it ideal for purifying and cleansing incense.

The crystal structure also naturally retains scent, allowing the incense aromas to linger. Plus, the aesthetic beauty of crystals complements the ritualistic and spiritual nature of incense.


Seashells like conch shells naturally hold and distribute scent beautifully. Their elegant spiral shape allows smoke and fragrance to gently swirl up and out. Seashells come in various sizes from small clam shells to large conch shells, working well for different types of incense and spaces.

Many believe that because shells derive from the sea, they possess cleansing and purifying properties. Shells can amplify intentions set through burning incense. Their ocean origin also activates energy associated with water elements like flow, calm, and serenity.

Look for intact shells free of cracks or damage. Gently wipe the inside and outside with a soft cloth to remove sand or debris before use. Set your incense sticks, cones, or resins inside the opening and enjoy the scent as it emanates. Pair shell holders with natural incense materials like wood, flowers, and resins to accentuate their oceanic appeal.


Metal makes for a great material option when selecting an incense burner or holder. Materials like brass, copper, and silver conduct heat very well, which helps to keep the incense burning at an ideal temperature. Additionally, metal holders allow the scent to disseminate nicely.

You can find intricately designed metal holders that add beauty wherever they are placed. Metal holders are often engraved or worked into ornate shapes with cut out designs that allow fragrance to escape. Simple metal bowls can also work well for holding incense materials. The shine and luster of polished metal contributes to an appealing holder.

Look for metal holders made of quality materials for longevity. Brass, copper, and silver will resist rust and maintain their brilliance. Wrought iron holders with metal wire shaping can provide interesting forms. Metal stands with cut out motifs are also common.

Metal conducts heat beautifully to keep incense burning at the right temperature. A metal holder allows scent to diffuse from the incense. You can find ornately shaped metal holders for an elegant look. Quality materials like brass, copper, and silver make durable and attractive holders.


Glass can make an excellent material for incense holders due to its neutrality. Glass absorbs very little of the fragrance from incense, allowing the scent to waft freely without altering it. This makes glass a versatile option that won’t interfere with any incense variety.

Glass also allows you to complement the incense visually. Colored glass holders in deep hues of red, blue, green or purple can provide a beautiful accent to match the mood you want to create. The transparency of glass also lets the colors and shapes of the incense itself shine through. Consider glass holders with colored designs for a more dynamic look.

Just be careful with very thin, delicate glass that could crack from the heat of burning incense. Thicker, sturdier glass is best. Also avoid material like crystal that can contain lead and release toxic fumes when heated. As long as you choose glass holders carefully, they make an excellent incense display.

Natural Materials

Using things found in nature can make for beautiful and earthy incense holders. Here are some ideas:

Wood slices – Cut cross sections of tree branches or logs can make rustic yet elegant holders for incense sticks or cones. Different wood types like cedar, sandalwood, or oak will add their own natural scents.

Stones – Rocks, geodes, crystals, and gemstones often have indentations perfect for holding incense. Granite, malachite, quartz, or amethyst can bring natural vibes.

Dried flowers and plants – Things like pinecones, seed pods, dried roses, lavender bundles, star anise, and bamboo shoots can hold incense in their crevices or hollows. Their fragrances mingle beautifully.

With natural incense holders, avoid materials that could burn or be damaged by heat. And be sure whatever you use has space to safely catch falling ash.

Upcycled Containers

One creative option for incense holders is to upcycle containers you already have at home. This is a great way to reduce waste and give new life to old jars, pots, tins, and other vessels.

Glass and metal containers tend to work very well for holding incense sticks or cones. You can repurpose glass jars from food, candles, or other products. Look for ones with interesting shapes, colors, or designs. The same goes for tins – tea tins, mint tins, and cookie tins can make visually appealing incense holders.

Before using an upcycled vessel, make sure it is thoroughly cleaned. You may want to decorate or paint it as well to give it a new look and purpose. Make sure the container is fire safe. And if necessary, add pebbles or sand to the bottom to keep incense sticks upright.

Upcycling is a creative way to make one-of-a-kind incense holders with character. It also gives unused items new life instead of tossing them in the trash. With a little imagination, you can turn all sorts of containers into functional and beautiful incense holders.

Concerns and Care

When using incense holders, proper care and handling are important for safety and to keep your holders in good condition. Here are some tips:

Proper Handling of Heated Incense

Incense holders will get hot when burning incense. Use caution and make sure to:

  • Use holders made of heat-safe materials like metal, stone, or ceramic.
  • Allow holders to fully cool before handling.
  • Set holders on heat-proof surfaces.
  • Keep away from flammable materials.
  • Supervise burning incense and never leave unattended.

Cleaning Residue Off Holders

Incense ash and resin can build up on holders over time. To clean:

  • Use a soft cloth to gently wipe off powdery ash.
  • For sticky resin, dip a cotton swab in rubbing alcohol and scrub residue away.
  • Avoid using soap and water or harsh chemicals on more delicate materials like wood or crystal.
  • Completely dry holders before reuse to prevent mold or mildew.

With proper care, you can keep your incense holders looking great and prevent damage from heat or cleaning chemicals.

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