Why is my cone incense smoke going up?

The Science of Cone Incense Smoke


If you've ever burned incense, you've probably noticed that the smoke tends to curl up into the air. 

But why does this happen? 

Is it just because heat rises? 

Let's take a closer look at the science of cone incense smoke to find out.



When you look at a plume of cone incense smoke, you might think that it's just rising straight up into the air because hot air rises, right? 

Well, that's partially true.

Hot air does rise, but that's not the only reason why the smoke from your incense cone is curls up into the sky. 


To understand why we need to understand a bit about how fire works. 

Fire needs three things to exist: fuel, oxygen, and heat. 

The heat ignites the fuel, which then reacts with the oxygen in the air to create fire. 


In an enclosed space like a room, there's a limited amount of oxygen available for the fire to react with. As a result, the fire will eventually burn itself out. 

But when you're burning something outdoors, there's an unlimited supply of oxygen for the fire to feed on. 

That's why campfires can keep burning for hours on end—there's no shortage of oxygen for them to consume. 

Related: how to burn incense cones waterfall



So what does this have to do with incense smoke?

Well, when you burn incense, the heat from the fire causes the cone (or stick) to release volatile compounds into the air. 

These compounds are made up of molecules that are lighter than air—which means they want to rise up into the sky. 


But as they rise, they come into contact with cooler air molecules.

This causes them to lose energy and fall back down to the ground again. 

However, as they fall, they encounter more heat from the fire—which causes them to start rising again.

And so the cycle continues until all of the volatile compounds have been used up and there's nothing left for the fire to consume. 



This process is known as convection—and it's how most fluids (like water and lava) move through our atmosphere. 

So next time you see cone incense smoke curling its way upwards, remember that it's not just because hot air rises—it's also because those pesky molecules just can't sit still! 


Why does my cone incense smoke go up? 

If you've ever wondered about this phenomenon, wonder no more!

In this post, we've taken a closer look at why cone incense smoke travels upwards instead of straight outwards or downwards. 

So next time you see tendrils of fragrant smoke wafting through the air, you'll know exactly what's going on!

Checkout our Cool Incense Burners

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