Backflow Incense Burner

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Introduction: Backflow Incense Burner

Backflow incense burners are beautiful. The incense smoke from the burner cascades downward like water over a fall. Standard incense burners burn their incense, and the smoke escapes upward into the area unimpeded. Backflow burners force the smoke downward (backflow) into an internal chamber where the falling smoke resembles flowing water. Very meditative.

Supplies

Acrylic
Tube 3” OD x 8” long

https://www.amazon.com/FixtureDisplays-Acrylic-Dia...

Funnel from Amazon

https://www.amazon.com/Delove-Plastic-Bottles-Esse...

Backflow Incense

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07F75SBNK

Copper Cap for 3-1/8” OD pipe.

Mcmaster Carr part number 5520K813

Tongue depressors (for vanes)

https://www.amazon.com/Ever-Ready-First-Aid-Depres...

Misc.

4” x 4” x ½” wood (base)

¼” dia x 3” wood dowel (see text)

½” x ¼” x 6” wood

Step 1: Construction

The base of the Backflow burner is a 4” x 4” x ½” piece of wood. I used a hole cutting saw to make a 3” to 3-1/8 groove in the wood that the plastic tube will seat into.

Step 2: Copper Cap

Drill and Polish. A ¼” hole is drilled in the center of the copper cap. The outside of the copper cap can be cleaned with some steel wool to a bright finish.

Step 3: Plastic Funnel

The plastic funnel is hot glued to the inside of the copper cap. The funnel helps shape and direct the incense smoke straight to the internal fixture.

Be sure the funnel opening is directly aligned with the ¼” hole in the copper cap.

Step 4: Internal Fixture

The heart of the Backflow incense burner, both figuratively and literally, is the internal fixture.

I fashioned the internal fixture using a short piece of ¼” diameter wood dowel, a 4.25” x 0.75 x 0.18 thick, and a few tongue depressors.

On the 4.25” long piece of wood, I use a pencil to mark three 45 degree angles. Next, I used a hand saw to cut grooves onto the pencil marks into the piece of wood. The grooves were wide enough to fit the edge of the tongue depressors.

I cut the tongue depressors to about an inch in length, inserted them into the grooves, and hot glued them into place. Next, I hot glued the ¼ dowel rod to the bottom of the wood. The rod secures the fixture to the wood base. Next, I hot glued a ¾” length of a tongue depressor to the top of the wood stick at a 30-degree angle. The landing platform is a large target for the smoke to hit and direct the smoke to the vanes.

I spray-painted the fixture with black paint.

Step 5: Set-Up and Use

The fixture is secured to the wood base.

The plastic tube is placed over the fixture and secured in the round grove made in the wood base. The copper cap is placed on top of the plastic tube. The ¼ hole in the copper cap should align with the landing platform on the internal fixture.

Place the incense on top of the hole on the copper cap and light the incense.

Step 6: Improvements

You can’t build something like this without seeing improvements you could make in the design.

I have seen a few, and the list follows.

I initially decided on a copper cap because the long sides would hide the funnel. This, I feel, was a mistake. The funnel doesn’t need to be hidden. It could be painted black and seen as part of the design. I would choose to make the top of the Backflow burner using the same size wood as the base. I would fit a thick fender washer on top of the wood top to prevent the incense from burning the wood.

I would modify the vanes and make them curved or scoops to direct the smoke better. Also, I could use black construction paper to make the vanes instead of wood (smoke is very light).

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    11 Comments

    0
    GeorgeG151
    GeorgeG151

    Question 4 months ago

    Very nice! Thanks for sharing, I have a question though, how does the smoke escape from the bottom of the unit? You could cut grooves in the top of the wooden base, or better yet drill several 1/32 holes through the sides of the base then have blind holes meet them in the center of the tube and the smoke can escape from the holes. But cool looking and great base project to start and build out from again thanks for sharing 👍

    0
    jiovine
    jiovine

    Answer 4 months ago

    It's not vented. It leaks away. I may try holes to vent in the future. Thank you for your comment.

    0
    vesihiisi9
    vesihiisi9

    Answer 4 months ago

    Not OP, but it's a question I've been trying to solve when dreaming up a similar project. I don't think you really want the smoke to escape. You will smell the incense from the cone burning at the top, but the appeal of backflow incense is its visual effect and it rarely receives high marks for its scent. Further, the smoke residue may stain surfaces, and similar commercial backflow incense designs have basins to collect the smoke.

    0
    GeorgeG151
    GeorgeG151

    Reply 4 months ago

    Ok cool to know, I have never used them but have always wanted one. Thank you for the information.

    0
    jiovine
    jiovine

    Reply 4 months ago

    Thank you for your comment.

    0
    PaulF194
    PaulF194

    Question 4 months ago

    Why does the smoke go into the sealed chamber and why does the smoke fall? The smoke should raise unless it is the same temp or cooler than ambient air. If it is cooler then what cools it. Also if mass (smoke) is going into the chamber where is the air in the chamber going, it can't be pressurizing the chamber?

    0
    jiovine
    jiovine

    Answer 4 months ago

    The smoke goes into the chamber because the smoke is easily dissipated by a breeze ruining the waterfall effect. The acrylic chamber reduces the effect of small breezes on the smoke.

    0
    B1gMattAttack
    B1gMattAttack

    Question 4 months ago

    This is sweet, I've never heard of backflow incense before. Do you find that acrylic gets a film on it or anything like that from the smoke? I wonder if you could find glass funnels and then place the incense directly into it instead of having to line up the hole perfectly. Thank you for the inspiration! I'm definitely going to try this.

    0
    jiovine
    jiovine

    Answer 4 months ago

    Yes, the acrylic and inside of the incense burner do develop a film from the smoke. I would not use a glass funnel because if it is dropped it might shatter and break. That is an interesting idea. The backflow burners "may" use incense, whose smoke is a little bit heavier than air, allowing it to flow downward. I am not sure if standard incense smoke has the same property. It would need to be tested.

    0
    askjerry
    askjerry

    Tip 4 months ago

    Make another one with a wooden base and a wooden top. Then, make the hole just large enough to contain this:
    https://www.amazon.com/Milisten-Backflow-Incense-H...
    Easily removed for cleaning. You could use a large hole, enough to let the holder sit 75% into the piece, then the holder would be nearly flush with the surface. Use a fostner bit to make the hole... insert your fender washer... and no worries about heat transfer.

    0
    jiovine
    jiovine

    Reply 4 months ago

    Yes I am thinking about that. Possibly using round pieces of wood for top and bottom.