Incense Magick: Art & Ritual of Incense

Incense fanatic Carl Neal walks you through the joys, wonders, and science of making and using natural incense. From making your first basic cone to creation and use of elaborate incense rituals, Incense Magick is your guide to the sometimes secretive world of incense and incense making. Every article explores different facets of incense, incense making, ingredients, rituals, tools, or techniques.

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The Simple Trick To Making Backflow Incense Cones

As an incense maker I get all sorts of questions from incense users and makers all around the world.  The question I’ve been asked the most over the last 2 years has been “how do you make backflow incense cones?”  The “backflow” or “down flow” incense cone is something reasonably new in the marketplace.  Unlike a traditional cone, a backflow cone not only sends a stream of smoke into the air but it also sends a stream of smoke downwards.  When used with a special burner the smoke flows downward like fog or water.  There are backflow burners that look like a pot pouring tea, a dragon breathing smoke, a castle wrapped in fog, and many others.  All of those very clever burners require the use of a special backflow incense cone.


The problem is that the only backflow cones widely available are cheap synthetic incense that smells like discount motel soap.  You know as soon as you see the bright, almost fluorescent, colors that they have to be synthetic.  Light one and it removes any doubt.  I really couldn’t endorse the use of such poor quality incense to anyone.

The good news is that making backflow cones is simple.  You can use any of your favorite natural incense recipes and make backflow cones that smell wonderful and contain only natural ingredient.  There is only one simple trick that you need to know.  After rolling an incense cone as you normally would, flatten the base of the cone and then use a nail or wooden skewer to poke a hole through the center of the bottom.  Push the nail or skewer up through the center of the cone until it is about 2/3 of the way inside.  Then let the cones dry like normal.  Take care not to push the nail all the way through the top point of the cone.  The tip of the cone must remain intact for the backflow to work.

Yep, that’s all there is to it.  The larger the diameter and depth of the hole, the more backflow smoke the cone will produce.  If you want to see the process in action you can check out this You Tube video:

There are lots of amazing backflow cone burners available online, so the next time you make a batch of cones, be sure to make some of them as backflow cones.  If you use one in a typical incense burner it will function like a normal cone.  The smoke will only backflow in a special burner.  Actually there is a way to get backflow in a normal censer if you make an additional hole in the side of the cone right at the base.  That process is also shown in the video I mentioned above.

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  Carl Neal has walked a Pagan path for 30 years. He is a self-avowed incense fanatic and has published 2 books through Llewellyn Worldwide on the topic. For many years (and even occasionally these days) he was a vendor of altar tools and supplies which led him to write The Magick Toolbox for Red Wheel/Weiser  


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