Incense sticks vary in length and width, which impacts their burn time. If you’re in a pinch and need to cut short the burn time, you might wonder, ‘can you reuse incense sticks?’
It’s possible to reuse incense sticks in more ways than one. You can put them out and relight them again, or you can repurpose or recycle them. How you reuse incense sticks depends on your goals and preferences.
I share several solutions for safely reusing or repurposing your incense sticks; keep reading for the correct guidelines.
Can Incense Sticks be Reused?
My first response to this question is for those who want to prematurely snuff out the incense stick in order to use it again in the future.
There are a lot of creative solutions and there’s one quick and easy solution that I think is best, which I’ll make my last point.
How Do You Put Out Incense?
There are a number of reasons why you might need to put out incense before it reaches the end.
The fragrance might be too overwhelming or displeasing. You may need to leave the house before your incense stick completely burns to the end. Or, you might live in a small space and only need for the incense to burn for a short period of time.
Whatever the situation, there are several ways that you can safely extinguish your incense stick in a way that preserves it for future use. Here are some ideas.
Method 1: Metal Coil
For those who are crafty, you might have on hand metal wire used for arts and crafts or flower arrangements. If so, you can wind the wire around the place on your incense stick where you want it to stop burning.
Make sure it’s made of metal and doesn’t have any flammable materials on it, like floral tape.
After wrapping the wire around the incense stick, you’ll notice that the glow will slowly fade. The wire interrupts its access to oxygen by cooling the stick down.
Method 2: Aluminum Foil
If you read my candle snuffer article, then this next method might sound familiar to you.
Take a small piece of aluminum foil and size it down to fit over the tip of your lit incense stick. Fold the foil a few times and then wrap it around the glowing incense.
Over time, the aluminum foil will begin to absorb the heat from the ember. But this method also disrupts the flow of oxygen. Without oxygen, the glow will eventually die out.
Since the foil is going to absorb much of the heat, make sure not to touch the tip until the foil has completely cooled down.
Method 3: Press it Out
A quicker method, this one is easy to execute, but you must be more vigilant in order to safely carry out the task.
Here you’re going to press out the ember just as you would the tip of a cigarette. But you have to make sure you’re doing this on a non-flammable, heat-resistant surface.
So think metal, concrete, or something similar. Carefully lift the incense stick out of its holder, and then press the glowing tip into the flat surface until it’s no longer glowing.
In some cases, the tip may continue to glow on the surface, but the combustion will end soon. Before leaving the house, confirm that you no longer see the tip of your incense stick glowing.
You might also press the tip into a container of sand to get the same results.
Method 4: Snip the End
Others suggest that you simply clip the lit end of the incense stick. While this will work, I think there’s more thought that needs to go into the process in order to make it less hazardous.
If you simply cut the fired end off with scissors, then the tip can pop off and land anywhere. Worst case scenario, it lands on fabric or some other flammable surface and either burns a hole in the fibers or starts a small fire. This outcome is not ideal.
To avoid this, you might want to use angled scissors, like those found on tools like a wick trimmer. If you light incense, it’s probable that you also light candles. So, if you have a wick trimmer on hand, then you can snip off the glowing tip of your incense stick in a more controlled manner.
You would still have to ensure that you can locate and secure the part of the incense that’s still smoldering, but it’s easier to do when using a wick trimmer.
Wick trimmer blades are wider and can catch the smoldering tip before it falls. The trimmer is also adequately sharp so that it can more effectively cut through the incense stick.
I will suggest that this approach is best used for coreless incense sticks. Coreless incense breaks off more easily. Masala sticks have a wood core and it would likely be more difficult to cut through them – possibly creating more of a hazard.
Method 5: Extinguish with Water
Now this is my go-to method for putting out burning incense sticks. Some incense users shun this method because they feel that the water weakens the fragrance, but I have not found this to be true.
You don’t need to use much water at all with this method. And I feel that it’s most effective because you can see and hear the fire extinguish.
When I want to put out my incense stick with water, I do it in one of two ways: using a faucet, or in a jar of water.
If I’m using a faucet, I am sure to carefully secure the incense stick in my hand so as not to drop it. After walking over to the faucet, I turn the water on, and then position the very tip of the incense stick underneath the water.
Almost immediately, I can hear it sizzle and the glow is doused out. You don’t need to leave the incense stick under running water for an extended period of time. In just a matter of seconds, the glow is extinguished.
In the second method, I gently dip the tip of the incense stick into standing water. Again, you don’t have to dip half the stick into water, nor do you have to hold the stick underwater for an extended period of time. A quick dip and lift is sufficient.
Can You Put Out an Incense Stick and Relight It?
Considering the last method, you might wonder whether or not you’d be able to relight your incense stick once it’s wet.
You will need to allow the incense stick to completely dry before attempting to relight it. And you’ll know whether or not it’s fully dry because it simply won’t light if it’s still wet. Even if it’s damp, it might light for a short time and then fizzle out.
The amount of time that your incense stick will take to fully dry depends on the amount of water used to douse out the tip, whether it’s a coreless incense stick or one with a wooden core, and also the thickness of the incense stick.
If you follow my suggestions above and use very little water when extinguishing the incense stick, then it shouldn’t take that long to dry.
When using any of the other methods for putting out your incense stick, it will be ready to relight whenever you choose to reignite the stick.
Can You Reuse Unwanted Incense Sticks?
This next interpretation of the question, ‘can you reuse incense sticks?’ is for those who are uninterested in ever lighting up their incense sticks again.
Have you come across an old box of incense sticks that you know you won’t use again, but you still enjoy the fragrance? Maybe you now have pets or children in the home and would prefer not to light incense around them.
In any case, you can get some use of these sticks even if done unconventionally.
Repurposing Incense Sticks
One way to repurpose your incense sticks is to use them to freshen up your drawers or closets as if they’re sachets.
I would suggest either leaving them in their original packaging or placing them in muslin or some other fabric in order to protect your clothes or carpet. Essential oils are used as a fragrancing ingredient in them, so you want to avoid transferring those oils onto any of your personal items.
Whether you place them in a drawer or leave them in the corner of your closet, you’ll get good use out of them without having to light them individually.
You can definitely reuse incense sticks!
We covered several ways that you can temporarily put them out in order to relight them later. You never want to leave the house with an incense stick burning. So it helps to know that you can reuse them if you ever need to prematurely put them out.