Picking the best backflow incense burner is a great way to enjoy the visual magic. These burners are often creatively designed to allow for the smoke to flow through the burner and expand on the visual imagery.
Considering these burners allow incense smoke to flow through like a liquid, they are often also called waterfall incense burners or incense waterfalls.
You put a backflow incense cone on a holder in the burner, and the burner then manipulates the flowing smoke to create amazing visual imagery.
Though incense has been around for millennia, backflow burners and incense are more recent developments. And they’re hugely popular for the calming visual spectacle they bring.
There are a lot of ways to manage the backflow smoke from incense, and there’s a huge selection of creative backflow incense burners to pick from.
We look at a selection of the best backflow incense burners in this article.
Characteristics And Parts Of A Backflow Incense Burner
Let’s get a quick look at the main parts of a backflow incense burner.
The Incense Cone Holder
For any waterfall incense burner to function, there needs to be a place where you put the backflow incense cone. For most burners, this spot is at the top, so they can use the entire length of the holder to manage the blowing smoke.
However, this isn’t a necessity, and we often see the incense holder placed somewhat lower, often going as low as the middle of the backflow burner.
The incense holder has a small tunnel or hole through it, which aligns with the tunnel on the backflow incense cone. The smoke from the cone flows right into this hole, moving on to the waterfall.
Some high-quality incense burners might have a protective ring around the incense holder. This provides a stable surface for the incense cone and also protects the burner from the heat of the incense cone.
Without this protective ring, the incense could slightly damage the holder with every burn. For higher-quality incense burners like those made from metal or porcelain, this might not be a huge problem.
However, lower-priced waterfall incense burners, like those made from resin, might actually melt with the heat, eventually becoming useless. In case you have a resin waterfall burner, it’s a good idea to put a protective ring under the incense.
From the user’s viewpoint, the incense holder is rather simple. All you have to do is, light a backflow incense cone and place it on the holder.
The Incense Waterfall
The incense waterfall is the characteristic and most important part of any backflow incense burner. Here’s where you see the smoke flowing through the waterfall, creating the amazing visual imagery that we so love.
Many burners utilize this for their creative setting. Sometimes, it can be a natural waterfall, flowing through like water on a mountain. Other times, it can be a cloudy mist covering a valley or a landscape.
In any case, this is where the magic happens and the possibilities are endless. There are a lot of burners showing this waterfall with creativity and style.
The beauty and creativity of the incense waterfall is our biggest consideration in choosing the best backflow incense burners.
Collector For The Incense Smoke
The last major part of an incense waterfall is the collector placed at the end. This might be an extension of the waterfall itself. Indeed, it’s mostly not differentiated from the general waterfall.
As things stand, the collector or trough forms the base of the incense waterfall.
Here’s where the smoke gathers as it flows through various parts of the incense burner waterfall. Its job, as you can guess, is to hold the smoke and prevent it from spilling over.
Incense smoke in a waterfall burner can leave a greasy residue or an unpleasant smell. The trough ensures that this remains contained to the burner, rather than extending to the surface where the burner is placed.
Still, when you’re burning a backflow incense cone on a burner, put a protective cover under the burner. This keeps any overflow smoke from hitting the surface, thus acting as a protective layer.
The Backflow Incense Cone
While not necessarily a “part” of the backflow incense burner, a backflow incense cone is the heart of the burner. It is what generates the smoke and lets it flow downwards for the incense waterfall.
Many burners include some cones to get you started, though not all have them. They look good and make it easy to take your burner for a test drive. However, they’re usually not so good at the incense and fragrance part.
Most people find that these cones don’t have the best (or even good) fragrance. And I’ll agree. I’ve never liked the smell of these supplied cones, and I’ve bought quite a few for personal use as well as for reviews here. In case you find the supplied cones inadequate, take a look at my recommendations for the best backflow incense cones.
Additional Accessories And Motifs For Backflow Incense Burners
Apart from the basic design elements of a burner, many also include additional characteristics and accessories. Though these aren’t standard and can vary across burners, depending on the design and elements of the backflow burner.
Some common designs include adding faux vegetation and flowers, animals, lights, LEDs, or even literal waterfalls to go along with the incense waterfall. Some might also include conventional incense holders or incense stick holders.
Common motifs include imagery like dragons, animals, or village landscapes.
Many waterfall burners include religious or meditational patterns as well. Deities and figures like Buddha and Budai are fairly common. Some backflow burners also include representations of deities like Adiyogi Shiva and Ganesha, amongst others.
Other deities or religious figures may also be represented, depending on regional and demographic preferences.
Another important aspect is the presence of a wind protector.
Even if it looks dense and fluid, the incense waterfall is just smoke. A small wind could blow it away. To account for this and to offer some protection, many incense waterfalls take on a more enclosed design. This protects the smoke waterfall from the wind.
The enclosure can change radically with design. In some cases, it might just be a small enclosure for the waterfall, while in others, the incense waterfall might be fully contained in the enclosure.
As we see, there are numerous aspects of design here. Your choice of the best backflow incense burner can depend on any of these characteristics, or how well the burner fits into your requirements.
Let’s take a look!
14 Best Backflow Incense Burners You Can Buy
Disclosure: This section contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. The product selection is independent of the affiliate status of products presented.
1. Hand Series Backflow Incense Burner Indoor Smoke Waterfall – Editor’s Choice For Best Backflow Incense Burner
Hand Series Backflow Incense Burner Indoor Smoke Waterfall
Teapot-style backflow burner
This well-designed backflow burner shows a teapot pouring into a cup. The hands, while not all that practically placed for a real-life tea pouring, do a wonderful aesthetic job. They bring the whole thing together in style.
At the very top of this burner is room for the backflow incense holder. From there, the smoke flows onto the top of the kettle, then onto the cup, and eventually makes its way to the base by flowing through the hand holding the cup.
The smoke doesn’t actually fill the kettle or the cup. Both of these provide small troughs and pathways for the smoke to flow and have an amazing visual effect.
The burner is made from ceramic and is roughly six inches tall.
2. New Moon Waterfall Incense Burner – Best Aesthetics
New Moon Waterfall Incense Burner
Brightly colored and well-designed
The aesthetics of this incense burner are quite on point! The crescent moon riding on waves creates rather enjoyable imagery. Its incense burner and waterfall sit in front of the moon, adding a touch of smoky clouds to the overall scene.
Its ceramic construction is good enough to hold the incense and take its heat. The bright paint looks lovely and adds to the overall imagery. They even include an ornate design for the base protector mat. Well, it’s a plastic lace mat that looks better in the image than in person, but it’s still a nice touch.
The incense smoke waterfall also includes a spot to place conventional incense sticks. Overall, the incense burner has a height of little more than 6 inches.
3. Backflow Incense Burner LED Light Ring – Best LED Incense Waterfall
Backflow Incense Burner LED Light Ring
Semi-circle LED light
Well-designed incense waterfall
Decorative and functional
Here’s a rather ornate and stylish backflow incense burner. It does a great job of accentuating the overall aesthetics of the backflow burner. However, the focus here isn’t as much on the incense waterfall, as it is on the LED lighting that makes the setup glow.
Sitting on a base, the LED is an arc that’s slightly more than a semicircle. While they do also offer one with a full circle LED, I think the arc looks better. It’s supported on a base. And within this arc lies the picturesque incense waterfall showing a mountain scenery.
There’s room for a backflow incense at the top of the mountain scenery, from where the incense flows like a waterfall down to the base. There is no collector here, so the incense can flow away. It does get dispersed falling from the height, so the lack of a collector isn’t that big a problem.
Since the incense waterfall is made from resin, they include a protective metal ring around the spot for the incense to protect it from the heat.
At the base of this waterfall is a faux lotus flower, which has room to hold an incense stick. Overall, this is a very elegant setup and looks very good.
Power for the LED light comes from a USB cable, which includes a switch for managing the lights. It’s probably a good idea to plug it into a phone charger that connects to a wall. A battery power bank might work too and could be a good solution if you don’t have a wall plug nearby.
This LED-style backflow incense burner is more expensive than most of its competition, but it’s also unique. From the base to the top of the LED, its height is about 15 inches.
4. Frog Incense Burner, Brass – Best Brass Backflow Burner
Frog Incense Burner, Brass
Well-built and good design
One big reason I include this backflow burner is that it’s made from brass. The metal burner has a nice and simple design, it looks good and appears to be built to last.
You’ll find the waterfall here is straightforward. Incense smoke flows from the holder to a leaf and then moves on to the larger leaf, which also works as the collector. The frog and leaf design is pretty good, though not exquisite.
Apart from the construction, I like the fact that this incense burner has a very reasonable and pocket-friendly price tag.
Besides, being made from metal, it is easier to clean and doesn’t risk deformation due to incense heat. It’s worth noting that the burner doesn’t get hot. Well, the holder will eventually feel some heat, but the smoke itself is cool and doesn’t heat the metal burner.
5. Tower Incense Holder Waterfall – Best Classic-Style Backflow Incense Burner
Tower Incense Holder Waterfall
Classic design with beautiful incense waterfall
This burner represents the classic style of the incense waterfall – by being a literal incense waterfall. In this piece, the incense smoke mimics an actual waterfall in a natural setting. The backflow incense sits at the top and the smoke flows down the simulated waterfall.
There’s even a small touch of landscape scenery to make it look more natural. On one side of the waterfall, there’s also room for a conventional incense stick.
Made with ceramic and given black paint, this one’s fairly easy to clean. There doesn’t seem to be any protection for the incense holder. While the ceramic won’t break away, the paint might get damaged with each burn.
As for height, the burner is slightly less than 5 inches tall.
6. Ceramic Backflow Incense Holder Waterfall Design – Most Popular Backflow Holder Design
Ceramic Backflow Incense Holder Waterfall Design
Interesting design with color choices
Intricate incense waterfall
Partially-enclosed waterfall for protection against wind
The backflow incense burner you see here is one of the most popular (if not the most popular) backflow incense burner designs. And there’s a good reason for that. It has a good waterfall design, a large collector, and is somewhat enclosed to offer some protection to the smoke waterfall.
You’ll find this design in several color and style variations across sellers, including those linked here. I think the attractive design speaks for itself.
I do like the simplicity where the incense smoke is in flow from one leaf-like point to the other. So, the waterfall is quite enchanting. Yet, it doesn’t get too complex and remains enjoyable.
7. Statue Backflow Incense Holder – Best Modern Style Design
Statue Backflow Incense Holder
Brightly and modern design
One attractive thing about this incense holder is that it could very well pass off as a modernist bust. The statue is quite striking and could be considered a piece of art.
The spot for the backflow incense is right at the top. From this point, the smoke flows into the statue and then comes out through the lips of the figure. Though the smoke does fall, there is no specific waterfall design here. It’s just smoke flowing out through the lips of the statue.
In this case, I’d say minimalism is appealing.
8. Backflow Incense Burner Lotus Windproof Waterfall – Best Windproof Backflow Incense Burner
Backflow Incense Burner Lotus Windproof Waterfall
Transparent acrylic cover for windproofing
Good incense waterfall
Incense waterfall smoke can easily get dispersed by the slightest breeze. It might look thick and flowy, but it’s just smoke. For many people, some air movement in their room is unavoidable. You could have a fan running, or you’re walking around, or anything else.
So, how do you get a good backflow setting for such a situation?
Well, the answer lies with windproof backflow incense burners. These have a protective shield around the incense waterfall, which prevents wind from disturbing the smoke. Incense smoke falls from the top of the burner and goes on to follow the design of the burner’s waterfalls.
It’s a simple and elegant way to do things.
This burner has a nice waterfall design with a cool backflow burner. The wind protector is made from acrylic and is transparent. Smoke falls through the top, eventually hitting the lotus-themed waterfall design, and eventually collecting at the bottom.
It won’t be ideal for the smoke to keep gathering inside the enclosed waterfall, so the base seat allows a little bit of the smoke to seep away. While a plastic mat is included, I’ll suggest you also add some cover for protecting the surface.
9. Mermaid Incense Burner – Cutest Backflow Burner Design
Mermaid Incense Burner
Cool design with good build
LED ball for accent lighting
This mermaid incense burner is a pretty cute one. It’s shaped like an oyster, with a mermaid napping inside. The incense waterfall doesn’t have much complexity here. The upper shell of the oyster serves as the incense stand.
From there, the smoke flows straight to an LED sphere sitting on the lower oyster shell. This lower shell also works as the smoke collector.
As we see, the design is simple, but it works pretty well. The smoke filled in the oyster shell creates a nice setting for the sleeping mermaid. Plus, the LED sphere is colorful and its lights look good in the smoky environment. There’s room for the battery compartment and switch at the bottom of the burner.
There’s a little spot on the oyster where you can add a conventional incense stick. I like the protective mat included with the set.
The mermaid design is cute, and together with the lights and incense, this forms a good decor piece. This backflow incense burner is made from ceramic and has a bright paint.
10. Skull Décor Backflow Incense Burner – Best Backflow Incense Burner For Halloween
Skull Décor Backflow Incense Burner
Cool dragon and skull design
LED light accents for skull eyes and mouth
There’s quite a lot going on with this backflow burner. A skull forms the major part of the backflow burner. A dragon rises above this skull and has room for a backflow incense at its top.
The incense smoke flows from the mouth of the dragon and onto the skull. As the top of the skull fills up, the smoke flows down, highlighting the hollowed eyes and mouth of the skeleton.
But that’s not all!
The skull contains LED lights that give the smoke an eerie touch and work with the overall effect of this burner. The burner is about 6.3 inches tall, includes a mat, and needs CR2023 batteries to work, though they’re included in the box.
Overall, I think this forms a nice decor item and might be particularly suited for events like Halloween!
11. Heart to Heart Ceramic Backflow Incense Burner Statue – Modern And Romantic Backflow Burner
Heart to Heart Ceramic Backflow Incense Burner Statue
Modern and romantic incense backflow burner statue
Heart to Heart burner is an interesting piece of art as a statement of love, and as a backflow burner. It depicts a couple in a hug and forms an intimate setting. At the chest of the female figure, there’s a large heart-shaped design, from which the incense smoke flows.
Interestingly, this burner is one of those designs where the incense doesn’t go at the top. Instead, there’s a small spot at the back of the statue, slightly above the heart design. This is where you place the incense.
While neatly designed, the incense holder is only a small spot, so extra care is necessary when placing it. Additionally, there’s no collector for the incense smoke, so remember to place a mat or other protective covering under it.
12. Tabletop Water Fountain With Incense Waterfall – Incense Burner Waterfall With Literal Waterfall
Tabletop Water Fountain With Incense Waterfall
Decorative and functional
Includes a real tabletop waterfall
Basic incense waterfall
Want some functional decor? Well, this tabletop fountain might be exactly what your heart desires. There’s quite a lot going on here.
It has a backflow incense waterfall, a literal waterfall, an LED ring, a water misting system, and a few more decor items!
All of them come together to create an intense magical effect that looks well worth the effort. The large mountain scenery at the base is made of ceramic and also works as the water reservoir.
You attach it to the fountain at the top, and the water flows down onto this reservoir mountain, finally finding its way to the reservoir to be pumped again.
It has a sturdy wood base – and it needs it, this is not a lightweight piece! The base holds the large LED ring as well as the reservoir and the entire fountain.
The fountain assembly also has room for placing a backflow incense cone. It’s creatively designed to use the backflow incense smoke to mingle with the (real) waterfall and create a nice effect. Also, the LED lighting gives the smoke a nice color and highlight.
This is a remarkable piece and looks pretty good when set up.
All that praise aside, this waterfall isn’t free from troubles. For one, the instructions provided aren’t detailed enough, so there’s a good chance that users might struggle with assembly. Second, it has three power cords you need to work with! The water pump, LED, and misting system all need individual power inputs.
And my last problem is that the backflow incense waterfall barely has anything to do! I’d have preferred a more detailed waterfall over the “let the smoke float around” approach.
Still, all things considered, I think this is a pretty nice piece for decor.
13. Ceramic Fisherman Boat Backflow Burner – Cool Backflow Incense Burner
Ceramic Fisherman Boat Backflow Burner
Cool design with simple incense waterfall
The image of a boat with a fisherman evokes a calming scene. He sits at the side of the boat, perhaps having cast his net, and just chilling out. The scenery goes perfectly with the calm we’d want from a backflow incense burner.
There’s a small hut on the boat in the burner. At its top is room for a backflow incense cone. The smoke flows through the top of the hut and then gathers in the boat, which also acts as a collector. It’s a nice, somewhat simple waterfall.
The fisherman’s statue has a spot for a conventional incense stick. It completes the look, making it look like the dude’s holding a fishing rod. That should be enough, but if you want more, there’s room to add another conventional incense in this ceramic backflow burner.
14. Skull Decor Reverse Flow Burner – Philosophical And Spooky Touch
New Moon Waterfall Incense Burner
Brightly colored and well-designed
Almost everyone’s heard of the three wise monkeys who come bearing a philosophical message – see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil. This set of backflow burners comes with the same message, except, they’re monkey skeletons delivering the message.
Each monkey has a spot on its head for placement of the incense cone. Once in action, the incense smoke flows from the cone into the monkey and goes out through the mouth. Then, it flows down to the monkeys’ lap, which acts as a tiny collector.
Well, the collector is too small in this case, so make it a point to use a protective mat. Each monkey can work as the backflow burner. So, they’re available as a set or as individual units.
Buying Guide: How To Buy The Best Backflow Incense Burners
Here are a few things to keep in mind when you’re considering the purchase of incense backflow burners.
They’re Smaller Than They Look In Images
When you look at product images for backflow burners, it’s tough to accurately gauge their size. Partially, this is because the burners look like they’re fairly complex with intricate waterfalls or other details.
Given the perspective, we can sometimes assume that the burners are bigger than they actually are.
Well, those intricate details are absolutely at home in smaller designs too. Most reverse flow burners have a height of about 3-6 inches and are similar in width. Of course, there’s no law governing their size, so you might find them in various shapes, but most of them will be within the 3-6 inches range.
If you’re buying them for decor or display, looking at the size of the item should be very helpful.
Look For Material And Build Quality
Backflow burners are available in several materials, the common ones being ceramic, resin, porcelain, and metal. The choice of material will affect the cost of the burner and its quality and longevity.
Ideally, you want a material that can withstand heat and is easy to clean. The heat comes from the incense (the smoke itself is cold). Burning incense can get very hot, and as it nears the base of the cone, the burner will feel this heat too.
Good-quality burners prefer to include a protective ring as the base of the incense cone. This keeps the heat localized and doesn’t damage the burner. If the material isn’t vulnerable to heat (like metal or ceramic), the heat can still damage the paint.
Be prepared for the incense cone to leave a mark or a touch of oils at its base after it’s spent and removed.
Even quality metal burners, which wouldn’t be affected by the heat, include a surface for the incense cone as a way for easier management.
Though not always necessary, it makes cleanup easier.
However, the protective ring becomes all the more important if you’re considering an incense burner that uses resin. This is a very common material for burners because it’s cheap and easy to use for various designs. However, it doesn’t do well against heat.
So, take a good look at the spot where the incense cone is supposed to go.
How Stable Is The Base?
Here are two things to check. The base of the backflow burner and the spot for the incense holder should be stable.
A burner isn’t going to be much use if you can’t light a backflow incense safely on it. So, the incense holder needs to be easily accessible and provide a stable surface for the incense cone.
Of course, the same goes for the burner. It should be steady on the surface and there shouldn’t be a risk of the burner tipping over or otherwise falling.
8 Things To Know About Using Backflow Incense Burners
1. Be Prepared To Clean
The beautiful smoke waterfall you see with reverse flow incense is great for the visual goodness, and it’s calming and soothing. However, as this smoke flows through the burner, it also deposits oils and particles in its path.
Cool and soothing as it may be, it’s still smoke!
After a few uses, you will begin to notice the presence of these particles and oily touches on the burner. Be prepared to give the burner a good cleaning.
If you only light it every once in a while, it might be a good idea to clean the burner after every use. For those more consistent with the use of the burner, it’s better to look at the burner and judge for yourself.
The deposited smoke and oils will eventually start giving off a bad smell, or even harm the burner itself. So, cleaning is important.
2. Put A Mat Under The Burner
The smoke isn’t usually limited to the burner, even though most backflow burners include a collector at the base. Depending on the burner, some (or a lot) of the smoke will make its way to the surface on which the burner is placed.
As explained above, the smoke will deposit some oils or particles where it flows.
It’s good practice to put a protective mat under the burner. Usually, it’s much easier to clean a mat, rather than clean the surface.
3. Have A Realistic View Of The Fragrance
Incense fragrance can be pretty strong. However, much of it is carried in the incense smoke. In the case of conventional incense, this doesn’t pose a problem. The smell and fragrance just rise naturally and disperse.
However, reverse flow incense burners and cones are different. The smoke cools down and then flows into the burner.
This means visuals are the highlight of the burner. The fragrance might be relatively milder or even feel different than conventional incense.
4. Reverse Flow Burners Are More About Visual Aesthetics Than Fragrance
The highlight of a reverse flow burner is the smoke charting its way through the paths created on the burner. It’s a visual delight and a treat to watch.
This means the look and the feel of the burner is often more important than the fragrance itself. There are a lot of ways to get fragrance, including using conventional incense. But if you want an incense waterfall, backflow burners are the way to go.
5. Backflow Burners Only Work With Backflow Incense
For a backflow burner (or a reverse flow burner) to live up to its potential, there should be smoke flowing downwards through the burner. The way to achieve this is through the use of backflow incense cones.
These cones are specially made and designed to push smoke downwards, which is what fuels the views of the burner!
Other conventional incense like incense sticks or cones will not push the smoke down, so there won’t be an incense “waterfall”.
6. They Need Protection From Wind When In Use
Even if the smoke looks thick and dense as it flows down the incense burner, it’s still smoke! Even a small movement of air is enough to disperse the smoke or disturb the incense waterfall.
So, if your room has a draft or other air movement like a fan or air vents, the backflow burner might not work very well.
However, there are a few burners with some protection from the wind. These enclosed burners protect the smoke waterfall from air disturbances in a room.
7. Use Incense Burners In A Well-Ventilated Room
It’s always a good idea to burn incense in a well-ventilated room. It might feel like a paradox, as I suggest using incense in a well-ventilated room and protecting backflow incense against wind.
But they’re not the same things!
A well-ventilated room doesn’t necessarily have to be windy. It just means that the smoke disperses and flows away rather than hanging about in the room.
Incense smoke is wonderful, fragrant, and some people even claim that it’s cleansing. However, it’s still smoke. You don’t want there to be too much smoke in the room. The room might start feeling stuffy, smokey, and inhaling too much smoke can’t be good.
So, having a well-ventilated room helps in clearing away the smoke and keeping the room fragrant and good smelling.
8. Backflow Burners Are Calming And Great For Meditation
One of the greatest benefits and selling points of backflow burners (and incense cones) is the calming feel they provide. Watching the smoke flow slowly and waft through feels soothing and has a calming effect.
It’s also suitable for meditation and provides a good setup to practice meditation. Incense has long been used for meditation, and backflow puts a new dimension to the millennia-old relationship!
Backflow Incense Burners Have A Lot To Offer
There are a lot of choices and options to pick for when you want the best backflow incense burners. These are soothing and interesting contraptions where the smoke is forced to flow down, rather than going up.
Backflow incense, together with the best backflow incense burners creates a wonderful and calming visual spectacle, where the flowing smoke and the fragrant incense come together. It’s great for ambiance, as a piece of decor, or as something to look at when you want a relaxing time!