Will Incense Set Off A Smoke Detector? (Here Are the Details)

Will Incense Set Off a Smoke Detector

We’ve all been there before: cooking or burning a candle when suddenly the fire alarm starts to beep loudly. Thankfully, technology has developed to a point where smoke alarms manufactured these days tend to not be quite so sensitive.

Incense will not set off your smoke detector as long as you have a more modern system. The modern smoke and fire alarms do not have the same issue with common household candles and incense as the older models do. The older smoke alarms are more sensitive to smoke and easy to set off.

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So, Will Incense Set Off the Smoke Detector?

Really, there is no solid answer because each home likely has a different smoke alarm. Some of the newer units aren’t quite as sensitive to certain types of smoke as the others but that doesn’t mean that they are impervious to being set off.

Incense sticks use fire, so that means that they create smoke. And when it comes to smoke, there isn’t really any telling what kind of smoke will set of which type of alarm. The only way to be truly certain that your smoke detector won’t go off is to not set anything ablaze.

Moreover, some incense sticks create quite a bit more smoke than others. It’s a pretty good idea to do a test burn outside of the house before doing so inside. It could save you the annoyance of having to get up high enough to turn the detector off, or worse, result in pulling out the batteries.

Don’t Take Out the Batteries

The most common solution for a smoke detector that won’t stop shrieking is to pull the batteries out. It should be noted that this is definitely not recommended because it can compromise the safety of your home.

The last thing that you want is to take the batteries out of your smoke detector only for it to miss actual smoke from an unknown source. Generally speaking, there are reset buttons on these smoke detectors that can be used to turn the unit off. Even if you do pull the batteries to get the shrieking to stop, make sure that you put them right back in before finishing up.

How Can You Burn Incense in Your Home?

Now that we know that there is a chance that the smoke detector will go off if you burn incense in the home, that leaves the question of just how to do so without the alarm going off. And the only real solution is to pre-emptively remove the batteries.

Before you light your incense, climb up and remove the batteries from the smoke detector. It is important that you only leave the batteries out long enough for the smoke to thin out. When the smoke has thinned out enough, you can confidently place the batteries back into the smoke detector.

Why Burn Incense?

There is a misconception that people burn incense as a way to keep mosquitos and other annoying bugs away from the home. But the simple fact of the matter is that no incense is known to keep bugs away from your home. There are plenty of other solutions to keep those pests from bombarding your home.

So, why do people burn incense? There are actually several reasons why it is still a popular household accessory.


The biggest reason that people burn incense in their homes is that they are trying to relax. Stress plays a major role in our adult lives and we need to find any tool that we can to combat the impacts of that stress on our bodies and minds.

Burning incense, along with having a cup of tea or relaxing music, can provide a relaxing atmosphere. The fragrances are generally pretty soft, allowing you to feel an overall relaxing feeling that will help the stress melt away.

Increase is also a way to combat anxiety. When we get anxious, our heart rate and breathing can become elevated. Burning incense can encourage your mind to calm and, by proxy, steady your heart and breathing as well.


Aside from trying to relax, the biggest reason that people burn incense in their homes is due to spirituality and mediation. As a matter of fact, incense has been used in religious ceremonies for thousands of years now. Buddhist, Hindu, Christian; all of these religions have made burning incense a tradition.

Moreover, the relaxing qualities of burning incense is something that many feel gives them the ability to mediated and focus on their faith. Traditionally speaking, burning incense was used to denote the passing of time.

It is believed that burning incense can be a great way to calm the body and mind, taking to where you want to go spiritually without heavily impacting the senses.

Can Burning Incense be Harmful?

As is the case with anything that produces smoke, there have been questions about whether or not burning incense can be harmful. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, there is particulate matter that is present in the incense smoke. This particulate matter has been linked to lung inflammation, asthma, and even cancer.

It has also been shown that long-term exposure to the smoke from incense can be related to an increased risk for certain kinds of upper respiratory cancers and even squamous cell lung cancer. If you enjoy burning incense, it is a good idea to open doors and windows so that the air can safely circulate out of the room and to limit the amount of times per week that you do so.

Why Does Incense Burn So Fast?

There are times where you may have seemingly just lit a stick of incense only to find that it is already nearly burned out. Understanding the science behind it can give you not only a better idea of why it burns so quickly, but what to do about it.

Incense burns fast because of the hot smoke that rises. When the stick is completely upright, the heat at the end that is lit, as well as the smoke, can rise quickly without much contact to the unburnt area below. For prolonged results, try angling your incense so that the smoke can drift off without touching the lit end of the stick.

Does Incense Clean the Air?

There have been studies that show that burning incense for an hour on an aerial bacterial population wound up reducing up to 94$ of those bacterial counts. It also improved the ability of the smoke to disinfect or purify the air, making the environment cleaner for up to 24 hours.

Remember, this only works for one-hour treatments and should not be done on a daily basis. Doing so daily can lead to the respiratory issues outlined above. Try burning the incense for an hour or so once per week and it should work to reduce bacterial counts in the air.

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How to Burn Thick Incense?

To burn thick incense, just hold the stick in the flame a little longer than normal. The good thing about thick incense is that it will burn for a lot longer than the thin ones; generally at least an hour or so. With the thick ones, you can burn them for as long or little as you so desire.

Ryan Womeldorf

Ryan Womeldorf has more than a decade of experience writing. He loves to blog about construction, plumbing, and other home topics. Ryan also loves hockey and a lifelong Buffalo sports fan.

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