How Do Backflow Incense Burners Work?

Roots of Being is reader supported. When you buy through our links, we may get a commission.

Many consumers of aromatherapy products find themselves asking: how do backflow incense burners work

The answer, of course, is magic. Or maybe it’s technology.

Either way, backflow incense burners are amazing.

These products can be very easy to use and enjoyable when operated skilfully. They are often artfully crafted and create backflow incense smoke by burning incense cones with holes drilled down their centers. 

The smoke from the burning incense travels down the small hollow core of the vertically aligned cone and is ‘pushed down’ by the smoke behind it, creating viscous, waterfall-like effects. 

So while incense sticks are convenient and smell great, backflow burners are more a permanent, decorative type of incense-burning product. 

This how-to article will go over the basic steps of operating this form of incense burner, as well as how they work and common questions about them. 

These products are overall fairly simple and easy to use, so any consumer should find using them easy after reading this guide. 

Incense Sticks vs. Backflow Burners

The main alternative way to burn incense other than with backflow burners is by burning incense sticks

These are very easy to use, but do not always burn as long as the cones in backflow burners, and do not create the visual effects with the smoke that the burners do either. 

Many backflow burners have ornate designs made to resemble waterfalls or other geographical attractions, since the smoke flowing downward from the cone resembles naturally flowing liquid or gas. 

Moreover, incense sticks drop loose ash while usually, backflow burners have chambers that catch the ash.

At the same time, there are simple stands and holders available for incense sticks that will catch the ash, which can easily make a mess on carpets or furniture. 

How Do Backflow Incense Burners Work? The Main Steps

Below is a list, in order, of the steps necessary for operating a backflow incense burner. The procedure involves installing the incense cone in the burner and lighting it. 

  1. Place the burner in an area with weak air flow. This will maximize the visual effect of the smoke running down the burner. If there is a draft or high air flow where the smoke is released, it is more likely to dissipate or blow away before creating the effect of flowing water.
  2. Align the incense cone’s hole with the small hole in the top of the backflow burner. This will result in the cone having a vertical orientation.
  3. Light the cone and enjoy! Incense cones offer all the great aromatherapy benefits that the sticks do while, when installed in backflow burners, create relaxing visual effects. 

Product Information 

People asking ‘how do backflow incense burners work?’ might also be wondering what products they will need to use successfully. The list of things needed to use this type of product is fairly short.

Below are the necessary items:

  • An backflow-designed incense cone 
  • A flat surface to place the burner when lit 
  • Something to light the cone with (like a lighter)
  • A backflow burner. There are many available on amazon, such as this decorative mountain waterfall style burner: 
Mountain Waterfall Glaze Backflow Incense Burner Incense Holder Censer Home Decor with 10 Free Cones...
  • 【ELEGANT DESIGN】: Made of Resin,...
  • 【AT HOME】: Lit a incense , warm and...
  • 【IN OFFICE】: Lit a incense, clean...
  • 【EXTRA 10pcs INCENSE】: This backflow...
  • 【CUSTOMER SERVICE】: Any questions or...

Last update on 2024-05-09 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Although the list of items needed to use them is short and simple, it’s important to keep in mind that backflow burners don’t always come with their own incense cones. 

However these cones are sold widely on their own, and it is even possible to make them at home. Amazon sells backflow incense cones from Omme , for instance.

And incense cones for backflow burners make a great small gift, too, whether homemade or store-bought. 

Related Questions

Many incense users have asked some of the same questions about backflow incense burners. These questions, and their answers, are below. 

Are backflow incense burners any good? 

There are many positive reviews of backflow burners, though the quality of the incense cones themselves vary. Some have been negatively received for bad smell or fast burn, but high-quality incense can definitely be found in cone form. 

And overall, it is not any more likely to encounter poor quality incense cones for backflow burners than it is to come across poor quality, synthetic incense sticks. Generally, it is better to seek out incense made from natural ingredients rather than synthetic aromas.

Can you turn regular incense cones into backflow?

Yes, it is possible to make your own backflow cones from solid cones. This can be done by drilling a hole in the centre of the cone. The other option is to grind incense powder and shape it into a cone while leaving a hole in the middle by inserting a nail while it is drying. 

Why does backflow incense smell bad?

Since the smoke travels down the same surface of a backflow burner repeatedly, it can eventually leave a residue that produces an unpleasant smell. For this reason, it’s important to clean backflow burners regularly.

Some common incense cones also use cheap synthetic scents, which might just not smell good due to their poor quality. 


Backflow incense burners are an upgrade over incense sticks in terms of visual appeal and burn duration. 

This type of incense-burning product, by pushing smoke downward, often guides smoke down artful sculptures resembling waterfalls or other geographical formations. This method of releasing the incense smoke produces a soothing visual effect that is unique to the product. 

And while it creates such an effect, this type of incense burner is fairly easy to use. All the user has to do is align the cone the correct way on the burner and light it. Moreover, the only supplies needed are an incense cone and a lighter. 

The cones can be made at home or bought online or in stores. The backflow burners themselves are also widely available in-store and online. 

Overall backflow incense burners are surprisingly simple, and after reading this article, consumers of incense products should have a good idea of what to expect from them.