People burn incense for different reasons: Worshipers burn incense for religious purposes, such as offerings to the Buddha and bodhisattvas; others burn incense for reputed aromatherapy benefits, and some people just like the smell. Regardless of why you use incense sticks, you need to be mindful of their hazards -- the smoldering tips can ignite nearby objects if left unattended. Putting out incense sticks when you leave the area can mean the difference between a sweet-smelling room and a burned-down home. Fortunately, you can put out incense sticks in several ways.
Lick the tips of your thumb and forefinger. Quickly pinch the smoldering tip of the incense, then let go. Repeat this quick pinching in rapid succession until the incense goes out.
Remove the stick from its holder and push its tip into a hard, inflammable surface, as if you were putting out a cigarette. Ashtrays, concrete or the incense holder itself all work well. Sprinkle a thin layer of spent ash or sand over the surface before driving the lit tip into it to avoid damaging the object.
Dip the end of the stick in water or hold it under running water. Avoid wetting more of the stick than is necessary if you want to finish using it in the future.
Grasp halfway up the remaining body of the incense to hold it steady. Gently push a hard object -- such as an incense tamper or a flat rock -- into the tip of the stick, slowly rotating the object back and forth as you work it into the incense.
Allow wet incense to dry completely before trying to relight it.