Tips on Сleaning Your Censers

Tips on Сleaning Your Censers 29Mar

As a much-utilised church item, an incense burner needs regular care. Here at St.Elisabeth Convent we use different types of censers. We employ two burners simultaneously during our liturgical services, and care of these items is one of our routine tasks.

Here are some insights that you might find beneficial.

how to Сlean a Censers

General recommendations

Deposits of fine ash and oil form a thick greasy film on the incense holder's walls, causing it to lose its original glow. One way to avoid this is by emptying the incense from the holder immediately after use and placing the unburned coal in a cup. That will prevent contamination from the smoke and the coal ashes from spreading across the altar.

If you do not expect to use the incense burner any time soon, it could be best to extinguish the flame by covering the coal with a lid.

Tips on Сleaning Your Censers

We also recommend using a ventilated censer holder. Ventilation will remove the residual smoke and other combustion products, preventing their deposition on the incense burner's walls and the altar objects.

Keep all incense burners not in use in a box to prevent unnecessary exposure to smoke and other contaminants. For additional protection, place the burner in a cloth bag or a closed container.

To clean your burner, choose the appropriate method for the material of the outer walls, of which polished metal alloys (typically brass) and gold or titanium nitride coating are the most common.

Coated surfaces

A common toothbrush will help. Recommended detergents include baking soda, citric acid, hand-cleaning paste (as used by auto mechanics), or common organic solvents. From our experience, these methods are effective to various degrees, but organic solvents seem to work best. Do not use abrasive or aggressive cleaning agents, as they may damage the coating.

We have tested the following organic solvents: car fuel, Solvent P-646, and white spirit. All three are effective for the fast removal of contaminants and day-to-day care. They do not damage the coating. At the end of the cleaning, rinse the surfaces with water and wipe them with a soft cloth.

Tips on Сleaning Your Censers

Polished metal surfaces

Polished metal surfaces are vulnerable to contamination and oxide formation. Both cause the burners to dim and lose their glow. The solution is hand-polishing with the products available in your market or any expedient polishing material.

Full cleaning

Incense burners need to be fully cleaned from time to time. The key objective is to remove the tar from the inside of the lid to prevent contamination of the burner's outer walls and protect your vestments from stains. Visible traces of black sludge under the cap is a sure sign that your incense burner needs full cleaning.

Immersion in a detergent is the most common method. We recommend that you disassemble the burner before placing it in the liquid by unbending the chain links where appropriate. The process can take anywhere from several hours to several days if you use a soda solution. The artisans of our coloured metal workshop use ultrasound to enhance the effect.

Tips on Сleaning Your Censers

It is also possible to clean an incense burner by placing it in an organic solvent. Although this is a more expensive option, it is much faster - 15 - 20 minutes - and the solvent can be reused. We do not recommend this method for items with enamel-covered parts and other elements that may be vulnerable to the action of these solvents.

In sum, care for the incense burners is relatively easy and undemanding and will add to the reputation of the church and its clergy.

We hope that you will find our insights useful. We would appreciate your feedbacks.

God's help in keeping your temples running and all your good works for the benefit of the Church.