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Author Topic: Home censer lighting?  (Read 3021 times) Average Rating: 0
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knotquiteawake
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« on: December 07, 2007, 03:34:05 AM »

Discussion of incense at home aside I was wondering if I could get some help from those that use censers at home

I have a small metal censer, self-lighting coals, and incense from a nearby monastery.  I cannot for the life of me seem to get the coal to stay lit and burning.  It seems to burn a little longer if i don't close the top of the censer but when I close the lid it goes out very quickly.

Any tips or tricks to using censers at home?

thanks!

I bought these items because before i was using incense sticks from walmart and friend brought up the idea that it might seem kind of pagan.  I don't have an issue with the sticks but wanted to use incense made prayerfully and support any monasteries I could.
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« Reply #1 on: December 07, 2007, 04:01:25 AM »

The censer lid is closed only when you want to extinguish the coal. It is always left open while burning incense.

1) Light your charcoal outside or under a strong exhaust range hood.
2) wait until it all glows red before placing the incense on it.
3) Use only 1 or 2 pelets of incense at a time, too much will extinguish the coal.
4) Keep the lid open while incensing the icons and the house.
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knotquiteawake
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« Reply #2 on: December 07, 2007, 03:37:40 PM »

this helped a lot, thanks!
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« Reply #3 on: December 07, 2007, 03:49:43 PM »

God bless you that you have the heart to burn real incense in lieu of the sticks which are mostly chemicals and are a profit center for non-believers.

The advice you have been given is good.

God keep you and strenghten you.

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« Reply #4 on: December 11, 2007, 06:59:47 AM »

I don't think I can stress enough to just be careful period.  The saying goes "things happen."
One spark from lighting could end badly, light it outside.  Make sure you wait until it stops sparking/lighting the self light "stuff."  Be very careful.  You can control how much the lid stays open, but I wouldn't walk around with the lid on the hand censer totally open.  Trust me, you don't want to loose a piece of lit charcoal in your house. 
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« Reply #5 on: December 11, 2007, 09:12:25 AM »

In lieu of lighting outside I hold the coal inside our large kitchen sink (big enough to wash pots) about 2-3 inches from the drain hole.
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« Reply #6 on: December 11, 2007, 03:40:37 PM »

Thanks for the sink idea.

I use only about 1/4, 1/6 or 1/8 coal at a time, long enough to last through layman's Vespers, and hold it with tongs to light it with a cigarette lighter as I do the lampada.

There's only enough space on top of the coal piece for one or two pellets at a time, at the beginning and topped up at Psalm 140/141.

It works.
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« Reply #7 on: December 11, 2007, 04:47:29 PM »

A litte off topic, but before the prayer offices begin or before the liturgy, the priest always says a prayer when he censes the church.  Is there a particular prayer one can use when he censes his home and his icons?  I know psalm 50 is used during the liturgy during the singing of the Cherubimic Hymn.
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« Reply #8 on: December 11, 2007, 05:20:01 PM »

A litte off topic, but before the prayer offices begin or before the liturgy, the priest always says a prayer when he censes the church.  Is there a particular prayer one can use when he censes his home and his icons?  I know psalm 50 is used during the liturgy during the singing of the Cherubimic Hymn. 

The only prayer I am aware of is the 50th Psalm for the censing of the Church at the Cherubic hymn.  At the other times, if he is praying during the censing, then (a) it is his own prayer, or (b) he's saying/singing the hymns that are being chanted, or (c) he's reading a prayer that should come earlier/later in the service.
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« Reply #9 on: December 17, 2007, 05:56:30 PM »

Thanks for the sink idea.

I use only about 1/4, 1/6 or 1/8 coal at a time, long enough to last through layman's Vespers, and hold it with tongs to light it with a cigarette lighter as I do the lampada.

There's only enough space on top of the coal piece for one or two pellets at a time, at the beginning and topped up at Psalm 140/141.

It works.

I kind of do the same.  But I have a very small censer and very small "rounds" of coal.  So i use about 1/2 a coal at a time.

The issue i seem to be having (assuming it is an issue and not normal) is that once i place the incense on the hot coal it starts to smoke a lot very briefly and then tapers off to almost nothing in less than 4-5min.

Any tips for making the pellets last longer?  Do different types burning faster/slower than others?

The two incenses I have at the moment is a "pine" (little powdery white pellets with brown inside [i've cut them open]_ and "Mt. Athos Blend" (a powdery pink-ish pellet).

thanks
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« Reply #10 on: December 17, 2007, 08:33:39 PM »

Wut is the purpose of walking around the home with the censer? We've done it on our own home but I've never fully understood the meaning. I mean in church its a blessing because the priest is blessing us and remembering us @ the altar...but at home its just us...I can see the incense as a symbol of rising prayer and as a method to make a prayerful atmosphere but is there any other reason?
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« Reply #11 on: December 17, 2007, 08:40:35 PM »

I can see the incense as a symbol of rising prayer and as a method to make a prayerful atmosphere but is there any other reason?

Do you really need any other reason?

However, I've also been told that the incense is also representative of the tomb which Christ had deserted in his resurrection from the dead.  As the myrrhbearers came to anoint the body with spices, there was no need because Christ had risen and there was no foul stench of death left since he triumphed.  I think one of the poetic Kathismata from Matins mentions this specifically.  I'll have to look.  Anyone else, feel free to correct me.
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« Reply #12 on: December 17, 2007, 09:08:46 PM »

Wut is the purpose of walking around the home with the censer? We've done it on our own home but I've never fully understood the meaning. I mean in church its a blessing because the priest is blessing us and remembering us @ the altar...but at home its just us...I can see the incense as a symbol of rising prayer and as a method to make a prayerful atmosphere but is there any other reason?

Censing people is a mark of the respect and love we in the Church owe one another as "a royal priesthood, a chosen race". Censing the Icons acknowledges that Christ and the Saints are part of our family too. Censing the home reminds us that an Orthodox Christian Home is a Church and a Temple in which Christ is Present and therefore we must always treat one another as though Christ were standing in our midst- because He is!
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« Reply #13 on: December 19, 2007, 09:31:12 AM »

I was taught to not lay the incense directly on the charcoal but to the side of the Charcoal.  It results in as much smoke but does not end up with that burnt odor  when the incense has completely melted---also the incense does not melt and suffocate the charcoal.

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« Reply #14 on: December 19, 2007, 10:27:58 AM »

o ok thanks for the clarification.
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« Reply #15 on: December 19, 2007, 11:19:07 AM »

The issue i seem to be having (assuming it is an issue and not normal) is that once i place the incense on the hot coal it starts to smoke a lot very briefly and then tapers off to almost nothing in less than 4-5min.

That is how long they are made to last. If they lasted longer it would choke the priest.

A little tip I learned to light up charcoal fast is to use the stove (I have only tried it with a traditional coil electric one mind you). Place the charcoal flat side down and crank the burner to high. The gunpowder goes quickly and it gets red hot fast. Make sure to use tongs Wink

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« Reply #16 on: December 19, 2007, 07:48:20 PM »

That is how long they are made to last. If they lasted longer it would choke the priest.

A little tip I learned to light up charcoal fast is to use the stove (I have only tried it with a traditional coil electric one mind you). Place the charcoal flat side down and crank the burner to high. The gunpowder goes quickly and it gets red hot fast. Make sure to use tongs Wink

*<||:)>

I use this method!  It gets the coal hot fast and i've got the range hood to suck all the terrible smoke away.

As far as the amount of smoke made by the incense... I guess I was more familiar with the sticks I had been using.  They slowly burned letting off a small amount of smoke for like 30-40min at a time.
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« Reply #17 on: December 19, 2007, 08:58:08 PM »

I can solve this problem completely. Don't use incense.  Use scented candles.
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« Reply #18 on: December 22, 2007, 03:04:35 AM »

I can solve this problem completely. Don't use incense.  Use scented candles.
the smoke is an important symbolic part of it for me, not just the smell. Smiley
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« Reply #19 on: December 22, 2007, 02:41:59 PM »

It is the scent of inscense that always made the biggest impression on me. In my wandering days away from the church, whenever I would smell something akin to the smell in church my memories would wander back. Maybe it was God's way of keeping in touch or prodding me to return. Anyway, it worked.
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« Reply #20 on: March 14, 2011, 01:32:58 AM »

I have used coals for a long time, both as an altar boy when I was young, and at home...
I now use the Athonite style charcoal power... it is much better. 
We also use it at the Greek church I go to… it is very nice.
It actually is tiny granules like sand which burn quietly and more safely.
Nice burn, No smoke- (the accelerant which sizzles across the face of the charcoals briquettes leaves an acrid gunpowder smell and smokes up your house (although I got quite a thrill from it as a kid))
It is used at monasteries and you can get it (made from the clippings of grape branches) from St. Anthony’s in Arizona… it comes in a silver can and is available on their website. http://www.stanthonysmonastery.org/ccp7/index.php?app=ecom&ns=prodshow&ref=CHARCOALPWD
Just pile in a bit with a spoon (depending on how long you want your incense to burn for), and then score (draw) a cross (creating cross shaped valleys) in the grains of charcoal, and then light.
It can be lit by holding the flame against the edges of the valleys, but it is easier if one uses a small torch… like a crème brulee torch (you can get a very cheap one from Harbor Freight)… just get it hot until it glows red… blow on it for a couple seconds to help it along, and then you are done…
Place a couple pieces of incense along the edge of the red lit part (so as not to suffocate).
The other nice thing is that if you decide you want it to burn longer, you can add a little more as needed and it will stay lit as long as one keeps adding fuel (a small spoonful of the powder).
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« Reply #21 on: March 14, 2011, 01:34:26 AM »

Welcome to the forum!   Smiley
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