Will Incense Set Off a Smoke Detector?

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We all know what it is like when you’re we’re cooking something on the stove and suddenly the smoke alarm starts beeping loudly out of nowhere. Of course, that causes a frenzy around the house, and if you’ve got kids and pets, it is much harder to control the situation. Thankfully, smoke alarms are not as sensitive as they once used to be; however, you might still want to be extra careful around them, especially if you are fond of burning candles and incense.

If you are a fan of incense, you might be wondering, “will incense set off a smoke detector?” Well, in short, old-style ionic smoke alarms will set off immediately when incense is burned. However, that may not be the case with newer, photoelectric alarms. 

To learn more about incense, whether it can set off your smoke alarm or not and how to avoid that from happening, keep reading. 

An Introduction to Incense and Its Types

Incense is an aromatic plant material made up of grains of resins that create a fragrant aroma through combustion when it is burned. It comes in a variety of different fragrances, ranging from sandalwood to frankincense to jasmine and more.

Incense was discovered thousands of years and has been used as far back as ancient Egypt or before.

Our ancestors used them worldwide with a variety of meanings, in religious processions and sacrificial ceremonies. Now, they are more popularly used around houses to help people relax and unwind. There are many popular brands available, and natural incense is becoming more and more common.

There are many different types of incense available, but the three most popular ones are:

  1. Stick Incense

Incense sticks are the most popular type of incense available and is typically used for religious ceremonies. Because of the stick’s thick and long shape, the incense evenly releases fragrance throughout a room. Usually it is burned in a tray, but here are several other ways to burn incense sticks.

  1. Cone Incense 

While the stick incense distributes fragrance in a uniform manner, the cone incense scent tends to get stronger with time as it burns. For that reason, this type of incense is suitable for adding a scent to a large room in a short span of time. 

Backflow incense burners create mesmerizing visuals.

  1. Resin Incense 

Resin Incense is made up of raw resin, sap, and sometimes seeds or parts of plants. This format is often the purest form of incense but sometimes needs charcoal briquettes to burn. Nowadays, these incenses are often burned in censers or in electric resin burners.

  1. Coil Incense 

Coil incense, also known as spiral incense, is basically incense material shaped in a coil. They are the same as stick incense, except that it is shaped differently.

They are great because they burn for longer compared to other types of incense. 

Will Incense Set off My Smoke Alarm?

Since incense expels smoke, there is a slight chance that it may set off your smoke alarm. Usually, that doesn’t happen. But that also means it will happen at the worst time

Because each house has a different type of smoke alarm installed on a different date, with different amounts of dust, there is no sure way of knowing whether incense will set it off or not.

Moreover, different types of incense leave different amounts of smoke. Some can release a lot of smoke, which can potentially set off your alarm, while others would not. Incense in a poorly ventilated room can cause headaches and bother cats and dogs.

It can stain walls and ceilings if you burn enough of it, and it can even damage electronics and get rid of fruit flies.

Incense can also stick to your smoke detector, and gradually make it go off more frequently, even if you’re not burning incense at that moment.

An excellent way to know if your smoke alarm would set off by burning incense is to know how old your alarm is, and what the type of alarm is.

If it says “Ionic” on it, you have an “old style” smoke detector that is more likely to go off due to burning incense. If it says photoelectric, you have a newer-style smoke detector that probably won’t go off due to direct incense smoke. But if you let too much gunk build up in there, it can go off at random times, even if you’re not burning anything.

Just to put things simply, the two instances when smoke alarms can be set off by incense is when: 

  • You are burning large amounts of incense in a relatively small room
  • You have an old and ultra-sensitive smoke alarm

How Do You Light Your Incense When There is a Smoke Detector in Your House? 

Though you normally don’t need to do anything to your smoke detector when burning incense because it usually does not set off that easily, if your smoke detector is ultra-sensitive, then you need to improve your ventilation.

Open a window or door, and turn on a fan when you’re burning incense. This will allow fresh air to enter the room and counter the smoke from the incense. Unfortunately it will also mean the scent diffuses more, but that’s the price you pay.

Why You Must Burn Incense

  1. Reduces stress and anxiety: The soft fragrances, like that of lavender, from incense, have the potential of slowing your heart rate and breathing, thus producing a calming effect on your body. According to some studies, burning incense also reduces your stress and anxious thoughts.  As a result, it helps your body to unwind and relax. 
  2. Helps to Increase Focus: According to research, lighting incense when studying or working can potentially enhance your focus as the scents increase cognition and connectivity. 
  3. Helps start a new activity or routine: When you’re starting a new activity such as yoga or a new project, lighting incense can help set the right tone. It streamlines things and helps you start off new activities with positive energy.
  4. Increases sexual desire: By lighting up incense with natural aphrodisiac, scents might just help set the right tone for a romantic evening. Scents like vanilla, jasmine, and cinnamon have proven to enhance sexual desire, especially when burned in the form of incense.
  5. Helps with yoga and meditation: If you are fond of yoga and meditation, you can take your yoga and meditation practices to the next level by lighting up incense. Scents like peppermint and lemon can increase concentration and help you focus better on your breathing and movements. 
  6. Aids in sleep: Burning incense with lavender and chamomile scents right before you go to bed can help with insomnia and sleep problems. They have the natural tendency of improving sleep and are safer to light than candles. 

Can Incense Set Off a Fire Sprinkler?

Unlike smoke alarms, fire sprinklers are typically set off by heat instead of smoke, which means that they are less likely to go off when you burn incense. However, if you burn incense very close to or right in front of the fire sprinklers, you will have a problem.

Does Incense Set Off Carbon Monoxide Detectors?

When burning incense, it does tend to release certain pollutants, which include carbon monoxide. In fact, studies show that the amount of carbon monoxide used in incense can potentially adversely impact an individual’s health. Hence, it is possible that a carbon monoxide detector can go off due to incense.

Are There Any Side Effects of Burning Incense? 

As mentioned earlier, incense releases carbon monoxide. A study shows that besides that, burning incense also releases sulfur dioxide and nitrous oxide. Since incense is normally burned in enclosed spaces, such as rooms, this may lead to increased amounts of pollutants being released, which can be harmful to health. 

The Bottom Line

To sum everything up, the answer to ‘will incense set off  my smoke alarm?’ entirely depends on your smoke alarm’s sensitivity, the type of alarm it is, and how far away the incense is from your smoke alarm.

For the most part, incense is pretty much safe to use and will likely not set off your smoke alarm. However, when lighting your incense, don’t forget to do it safely in a secure environment to avoid any fire hazards!

Some safety tips you can follow include:

  • Burn it in a ventilated area 
  • Keep incense out of reach of animals and pets 
  • Avoid burning incense or being around it if you have asthma or other respiratory problems 
  • Place your incense burner on a fire-resistant surface
  • Don’t leave your burning incense unattended 
  • Always gently ignite your incense stick