6 Reasons Why Your Backflow Incense Burner Isn’t Working Properly

Backflow incense burners, sometimes called waterfall incense burners, are a beautiful and aesthetic way to cleanse the home while having a lovely decorative piece. But, they’re also some of the most finicky and hard-to-use incense burners out there thanks to their reliance on proper placement and ventilation (or at least the lack thereof).

Here are a few reasons why you’re struggling to have your backflow incense burner look the same as in the pictures.

1. You’re Not Using the Right Incense Cones

The very first thing you should check is whether or not you’re using the right type of incense cone. For backflow incense burners, you need to use specific incense cones such as these:

If you look at the picture, you’ll notice there’s a little hole at the bottom of the incense cone. This is where the smoke comes out of and falls through the incense burner while in use. If your cones don’t have this hole, then you’re likely using the wrong ones.

2. There’s Too Much Ventilation

Backflow incense burners are heavily reliant on low-ventilation areas, despite what we’ve told you about where to place incense previously. Too much airflow will cause the smoke to dissipate and fail to accumulate on the backflow burner. What tends to happen is the smoke will fall down initially, but fail to stick and spill over, making it look rather lame.

To remedy this, simply move the incense burner to a different location in your home than where you normally burn incense sticks or cones. Hopefully, the lack of airflow will allow for the aesthetically pleasing smoke waterfall to build up properly. Unfortunately, not every space or home is an ideal fit for backflow burners.

3. The Backflow Incense Burner Has a Defect

Look, as much as we love our backflow incense burners, there’s always the chance of a defect in them. For instance, when we bought our first one, there was actually a hole in the ceramic that was causing the smoke to enter and not flow down correctly.

It might take some inspecting, but try to see if there are any cracks, holes, or other damages to the product that may be causing the incense smoke to flow incorrectly. If there are, look into returning and replacing the item. If it’s past the time frame, consider using some clay to seal the area.

4. The Incense Cone is in a Humid Environment

Sometimes, the incense cones themselves are the issue. In humid environments, incense cones may become too damp to burn smoke effectively. This also tends to happen when incense isn’t stored correctly.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a remedy for this issue. If your home has A/C or another way to control humidity, you can try to turn it on and then try burning it again, but there’s no guarantee this will solve anything.

5. The Incense Burner is in Need of a Cleaning

If your backflow incense burner was working previously but has suddenly stopped, then it might be due for a cleaning. The brass plate on top or the hole it’s normally inserted to may have a build-up of resin or other debris from burning incense.

A simple cleaning using a simple dish soap with a soft sponge or cup cleaner will likely do the trick. Try to wash the brass plate first and let it dry completely before use. If it’s still not working correctly after washing the bass plate, move on to the other hole.

For best results, use lukewarm water and light pressure on the actual incense burner. Since most are made of ceramic, they can easily crack when under too hot of water and heavy pressure. Let the incense burner dry upside down to fully let all the water drip out of it.

6. There’s Not Enough Ventilation

In very rare instances, you may be actually dealing with too little ventilation. When this happens, your incense cone isn’t able to burn at a steady enough rate to produce the smoke needed for the backflow incense burner to work correctly. This is mainly due to a lack of oxygen or air supply to fuel the burning process.

In this instance, place the incense burner in a slightly more ventilated area to ensure there is enough fuel for the fire. However, this may be counterintuitive, as again, too much ventilation will blow the smoke away and cause it to not accumulate and flow properly.


Why won’t my backflow incense cones stay lit?

Your backflow incense cones will likely not stay lit due to a lack of “oxygen” in the area. However, it can also not stay lit due to multiple other reasons including:

  • Too much humidity
  • Damaged incense cones
  • Poor-quality incense cones
  • Too much airflow blew out the incense cone

How does a reverse flow incense burner work?

In simple terms, a reverse-flow incense burner works due to the smoke mixing with cold air, causing the smoke mixture to fall down the burner rather than having the smoke rise. With normal incense, the smoke coming off is hotter than the air surrounding it, allowing it to rise.

In more technical terms, backflow incense burners work through a process known as convection. Essentially, as the incense cone heats up, the air inside the pocket heats up and rises to the top of the incense cone. But since it’s inside, it doesn’t have anywhere to go but down. This hot smoke then mixes with the cooler air outside the incense cone, creating a dense mixture of the two.

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