The Kyarazen Subitism Incense Heater Outshines All Competitors

The Subitism Incense Burner is a marvel of ingenuity, design and construction. Fabricated to heat wood at the optimal temperature for releasing only the revered fragrance of the resins, (and NOT the acrid smell of burning wood fibers), the Subitism burner makes it possible to enjoy the subtleties of fragrant wood, granulated incense and kneaded incense without any of the drawbacks of other burners and techniques.

Wood burned on the Subitsm has a clean, pure scent. Although I enjoyed using my Indian electric burner enough to have replaced the first one after it died, I too often detected a faint smell of hot metal, even at lower temperatures, that compromised my enjoyment. Shoyeido’s Kodutu burner, sleek and elegant in design, unfortunately smells faintly of burning plastic. The Subitism Burner can burn wood uninterruptedly for long periods of time, whereas the Shoyeido Kodutu must be reset every 3 minutes. If not firmly held down while resetting, pushing on the lever can cause the wood to jump off the mica plate. The Subitism has a large, easily accessible heating element so it’s very easy use. The Shoyeido burner is much more finicky about placement of the wood directly above the small, coiled heating element.There have been many times when I passed the burner to a friend only to find that the piece of wood had slipped off the element during the transfer. The Subitism uses a 12v 2a power adapter (that comes with the unit) whereas the Shoyeido burner burns through batteries much more quickly than I would like. The batteries do make the Kodutu very easy to transport and it’s handy that it doesn’t require a wall plug. However the Subitism, in terms of the richness and enjoyment of the burning experience, functionality, ease of use, and possibly expense (I don’t know how to compare the cost of the electricity it uses to disposable or rechargeable batteries) wins hands down!

With the Subitism the amount of heat that the material being burned is exposed to can be varied depending on the number of mica sheets placed between the heating element and the material. If you want to scent the whole room a single .1 mm sheet is perfect. If you want to heat the incense very slowly, hoping to discern many of the wood’s hidden subtleties, add an extra sheet or two of mica and you will be amazed at the difference! It’s a pleasure that the ability to discern these fine nuances can be achieved without the expense or mess of ash and charcoal.

The Shoyeido burner has a handsome modern aesthetic and the Indian Burner has a certain rustic charm. For me, there is even greater pleasure in using a burner that has been carefully designed and meticulously crafted by an incense lover who created it to please himself. It is because Kyarazen enjoys sharing his love of incense that he has made The Kyarazen Subitism available on his Etsy shop. His shop is http://www.etsy.com/shop/Kyarazen.
The Subitism is currently sold out but I expect that more with become available in the next few months.

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37 Comments

  1. Stephen said,

    April 22, 2013 at 11:00 am

    Hi, a quick note of thanks for all the advice offered here. I’ve recently ordered a Subitism and eagerly await its arrival! Great website.
    Stephen

  2. Theo said,

    April 18, 2013 at 2:29 am

    The Kyarazen is a wonder!! I received mine a couple of weeks ago along with a comprehensive manual and free sample of Koyasan – Reikoh incense. I ordered 50 additional 0.1 and 0.01 mm mica sheets off ebay for just a few dollars. In operation the unit is superlative. With 2 x 01.mm mica plates (the standard I have used for all my burning to date), the rose and oud elements of Duggatal Oudh with Ward Taifi come through beautifully, with a purity I have never achieved with charcoal/ foil or electric burner. The unit allows the rose scent in particular to build in layers, to a point where its similar to smelling a real bouquet of roses. A remarkable achievement and shows the potential of the unit paired with a high grade product. Athonite incense from The Holy Transfiguration Monastery burns cleanly with the notes in the superior essential oils distinct and ethereal. Notes hithero hiddden unfurl in a song. I am keeping a diary with burning notes on the current 2 x 0.1 mm mica’s. I will compate notes with further mods to the depth of mica plates. Have made a small batch of athonite incense using Houjary Frakinsecense and green tea essential oil I will use in a future Gong Fu tea ceremony…looking forward to the potential engancement it will bring..utterly brilliant unit!!!!!! Thanks to Marian and Christian for sharing the discovery and WS for his great product and customer service 🙂

    • Marian said,

      April 18, 2013 at 7:03 am

      Hi, Theo- I’m very glad to hear you’re having so much success. I haven’t yet tried burning bakhoor- thanks for sharing your experience. I’ve also got quite a few very small pieces of broken sticks and have been wondering about lying them down and burning them “horizontally”….
      I hope you’ll continue to relate your experiences as they unfold 🙂

    • Christian said,

      April 18, 2013 at 4:04 pm

      Wow, Theo! That Houjary Frakinsecense and green tea essential oil blend sounds sublime. I did not even consider using essential oils on the burner. My mica sheets are coming from an Ebay seller in the Ukraine and I am looking forward to experimenting.

      Perhaps I will try the burner at my new residence (still back and forth between the old and new house) this evening. The smell of latex paint is not conducive to relaxation.

      Thanks for the inspiration-and again thanks to WS, Marian and everyone else who made helpful posts on this subject.

      • kyarazen said,

        April 18, 2013 at 7:02 pm

        Hi Chris,

        it could be possible to use essential oils, but due to the volatile nature of oils and the ease of rapid combustion, i would suggest not using essential oil directly on the mica. instead you could think of something to “hold” the essential oil down, be it dried plum flesh, sandalwood powder, herb powders, dried dates, or any fragrant material you can get your hands on. you just need to put a drop of oil and mix it into these substances, press the mixture into a flat pellet or a round ball, and you’re good to go!

        ws

        • Christian said,

          April 19, 2013 at 8:37 am

          Thanks ws! Good advice. I’ll try a mixture this weekend.

    • kyarazen said,

      April 18, 2013 at 6:59 pm

      Hi Theo,

      thanks for the very kind comments, and i’m glad you are enjoying the burner. that sounds like some very nice incenses you are heating!

      if ever you need help transferring the heater unit out of the dish to a more aesthetical receptacle, feel free to discuss with me over email 🙂

      regards,
      ws

  3. kyarazen said,

    April 15, 2013 at 8:51 pm

    Hello all,

    many thanks for the kind comments and support that had kept me going

    but unfortunately I’ll be slowing down and ceasing the production of the regular subitism burner units soon due to family commitments.

    however i may still be open to collaborations, i.e. you have a ceramic burner or incense burner that you want to integrate a heating element inside etc, and perhaps we can work something out

    thanks!
    ws

  4. Christian said,

    April 11, 2013 at 9:08 pm

    I just got my heater and I have to say that Kyarazen is a pleasure to deal with. I had a lot of questions and he quickly and patiently answered each one. I highly recommend him!

    Marian, thanks for sharing your discovery and this great seller with us.

    • Marian said,

      April 12, 2013 at 9:17 am

      I agree- Kyarazen is an extremely helpful gentleman. I hope you enjoy your burner. My mom used to say that “good things are worth waiting for”. Although sometimes it’s hard to be patient, she was always right! 🙂

    • Epidoc said,

      April 12, 2013 at 5:04 pm

      +1. The Subitism incense heater is an absolute joy to use. Just as Marian mentioned in her review, it’s amazing to be able to play around with the number of mica sheets to help discern the delicate notes. The incense is so simple in its construction yet so effective. Highly recommended.

      Marian, you were right – the wait was worthwhile. Thanks!

      • Marian said,

        April 12, 2013 at 9:33 pm

        It does a great job with granulated chips and kneaded incenses, too 🙂 I’m glad you’re enjoying it, Epidoc!

        • Smokinjoe said,

          April 14, 2013 at 5:46 pm

          Need a little help with the use of my Subitism, and heaters in general.

          I placed the sandalwood chip on the burner with both of the supplied mica sheets. It started smoking in about 15 seconds, and was entirely consumed in 30 seconds. Didn’t seem right to me. I then noticed that the mica sheet with the heating element woven into it was “warping up”. (as described in the manual) I then successfully got it to warp down all the time. This reduced the heat, but apparently not by much, or at least not enough. I then placed the supplied 2 mica sheets and 2 more mica sheets from Ebay. These were about .05mm sheets. I then put about 1/4 tsp of a mixture from Mermade on the burner. It started smoking in about 30 seconds and was totally consumed in about 1.5 minutes. Since this is my first foray into using a heater, I am not quite sure what to do, or what to expect when it is working correctly. So if somebody could help me with these Q’s, I would appreciate it.

          Should wood, incense mixtures, Frank tears etc. ever smoke? Even just a little? I would think NOT, but need to ask.

          Is anybody that is using a Subitism having too high of a heat problem? If so, how did you resolve?

          I am going to raise the mica sheet a little higher than just resting on the screw heads and see if that helps.

          Any comments would be appreciated.

          BTW – I received the mica sheets from Ebay, and they seem like a good deal for the price.

          Thanks,

          Smokinjoe

          • Marian said,

            April 14, 2013 at 6:37 pm

            Hi, Joe,
            The burner I have supposedly “runs hot”. For that reason I have, with thin slices of wood, used as much as .45 mm of mica when iw want to HEAT the wood. I use .1 mm when I want to BURN it so that it smokes.
            Some people like to HEAT incense, i.e. to make it hot enough to release the volatile oils but not so hot that it smokes. When incense is heated, at least for me, it’s easier to smell the different notes in succession. It’s like listening to a melody in which different notes are played one after the other. When incense is BURNED- when it smokes- it’s more like a chord- notes blended together and, after a few seconds, they all are released at once. When I’m trying to discern all the subtleties of a wood I heat it. If I want to smoke my room, or clothes, or hair,or just enjoy the incense in a casual way, I burn it and direct the smoke towards my body, or just allow it to drift into the room. Heating requires being closer to the incense in order to smell it (again- I am speaking personally. Maybe other people are more adept at smelling it further away).
            Weather the incense smokes or not depends on the number of mica sheets, how close the incense is to the center of the burner and how large a piece, or pieces, are heated. The good thing about the Subitism is that even when the wood is smoking you are only smelling the RESINS, not the smell of burning wood fibers (in the case of agarwood). If you burn agarwood on charcoal it smokes but the scent. after a few seconds, is usually acrid. That’s because the wood fibers, as well as the resin, are burning. The Subitism is adjusted to just burn the resin.
            Are you enjoying the smell or does it smell acrid, Smokinjoe? Do the incenses smell good or do they smell acrid or unpleasant?
            I don’t burn much frankincense but from what I know, people who burn it allow it to smoke. Maybe someone else could chime in here 🙂
            I believe some of Mermade’s incense are best enjoyed on lower heat. Again- how do they smell? That’s what’s important.
            So yes- woods smoke, resins smoke, granulated incense smokes. Smoking is OK with Subitism- it doesn’t mean it is too hot. Heating wood so it doesn’t smoke is a very particular way of experiencing it, and one that takes a lot more attention. It takes much more time and attentiveness- it’s a different type of experience.
            Does this help to answer your questions?
            I’d suggest continuing to burn small amounts of different incenses and see how you like them. If you feel that your burner is not performing as it should perhaps you should contact Kyarazen. I’m sure he will be happy to answer your questions.

            • Smokinjoe said,

              April 14, 2013 at 8:28 pm

              Yes, that helps. I need to try ultra think mica rather than trying to raise the height of the 2 mica sheets. So, 4.5 mm of mica, WOW that’s thick.

              I now understand that you can either heat or burn woods, based on your preference, but I am assuming, based on Ross’s recommendations, that something like OCEAN OF NIGHT should NEVER smoke. Is that correct? I would also assume then that most of the mixtures sold by Mermade should NOT smoke, but rather be heated. Would that be correct?

              I have been enjoying Japanese Incense for many years, but I feel like such a newbie with a heater.

              On a side note – It just seems to me that variable heat control would solve this issue. I had an analog type of slider lamp dimmer that I tried. It did not work. I am not sure, but I think the reason is that the power supply supplied with the Subitism is a switching power supply that needs a certain input voltage, or it just shuts down.

              I am anxious to get this dialed in, because I want to try all 3 of Ross’s samples!

              Smokinjoe

              • Marian said,

                April 14, 2013 at 8:45 pm

                You can also try burning incense close to, but not directly on, the heating element.

                I may be a little extreme using so much mica but, as I said, my unit runs a little hot 🙂

                Yes- Ocean of Night shouldn’t smoke and the Mermade incenses I’ve tried came with note saying they should be used on low heat, i.e.- no smoke.

                Perhaps you can purchase a dimmer that will work with your unit from Kyarazen.

                • Smokinjoe said,

                  April 15, 2013 at 10:17 am

                  I measured all 48 sheets of the mica I received from Ebay. They totaled about 1.5mm, so I put all of them on the burner, along with the 2 sheets that came with the Subitism. I then placed a DROP OF AMBER on top. Nothing happened after 5 minutes, and we could not detect any fragrance. So I guess mine is considerably cooler running. I can’t imagine needing 4.5 mm, but it is what it is.

                  I played around with the number of sheets, and did get the amber drop to melt nicely, with just faint whispers of smoke. Nice fragrance too BTW. I removed about 1/4 to 1/3 of the sheets.

                  It is obvious that the Subitism works well, but you can not expect perfect results by just using the 2 sheets of mica that came with the product and following directions. Quite a bit of playing around with “number of sheets” will be required. YMMV, but I wanted to share my experience so new buyers will know what to expect, and how to proceed. I might add that adding or subtracting mica sheets works way better than trying to raise or lower the supplied 2 sheets of mica.

                  It appears, at least with my Subitism, that having a supply of .1 or .2mm mica sheets to adjust the temp, then using the .05mm sheets to place the fragrant material on and fine tune the temperature would work the best.

                  I need to experiment a little more, but that’s the current update.

                  Hope this helps the new buyers just pulling the Subitism out of the box.

                  Smokinjoe

                  • Marian said,

                    April 15, 2013 at 11:16 am

                    Oh, smokinjoe! I feel terrible! I meant .45, not 4.5! Four .1 sheets and 1- .5 sheet. My math is horrendous 😦 I am so sorry. Well- it’s not surprising you didn’t get any scent- you are 100% right- 4.5 is unimaginable 🙂

                    Different incenses, as you know, have different characteristics so it IS necessary to play around. After a while you’ll figure out what works best for you most of the time.

                    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences. I hope you’ll let us know what works best for you after you’ve done some experimenting.

                    • Smokinjoe said,

                      April 15, 2013 at 8:54 pm

                      Marian,

                      Ah, .45mm, that makes much more sense. I think we are stacking mica about the same height.

                      Thanks so much for your input. It is very helpful for us “stick only” burners that are now branching out. I can’t find any information on the web regarding exactly how one should go about heating or burning, and the pros/cons of each.

                      Please keep sharing as you gain more experience with the Subitism. I wish we had a little better format for doing this.

                      Christian – I think the design (switching supply) of the Subitism wall wart power supply precludes the use of a simple dimmer, but I have not yet checked with Kyarazen. I believe you would need a transformer based wall wart to work with a lamp dimmer. I need to do a little homework on that.

                      Also, please share any Subitism experiments once you get the boxes unpacked.

                      Smokinjoe

                  • Christian said,

                    April 15, 2013 at 4:02 pm

                    Very helpful information. I just got my heater last week and am in the process of moving, so I have only had time to heat the bit of sandalwood that came with it. I had the same experience-the wood was black within a minute or so. Smelled good but it went FAST.

                    I read that the maker had experimented with a dimmer type control, but said it made a humming noise and produced a plastic smell.

                    Am expecting more mica sheets ordered from Ebay, so I will have to experiment when I have time.

                    • Marian said,

                      April 15, 2013 at 5:15 pm

                      Some people wet pieces of wood to slow down the burning. I’ve never tried it so I can’t tell you how much to wet a piece.

                      Experiment with letting the wood heat and also letting it smoke- they are 2 different experiences and theres’ a place for both of them. Wood WILL burn quickly- especially small pieces. Unlike lighting sticks or coils that can be quite long lasting, small pieces of fragrant woods don’t burn long. It’s an expensive hobby because it’s necessary to keep replenishing pieces of wood to have a fresh, steady stream of aroma.
                      Burning shokoh (granulated incense) works very well on higher heat with a single .1 ml plate. Yes- it smokes. The smoke lingers in the room for quite a while; even though the wood blackens the fragrance in the air is long-lasting.
                      I hope your move goes smoothly, Christian. Enjoy your new home! May it be filled with many wonderful scents and other captivating sensory experiences!

              • kyarazen said,

                April 15, 2013 at 8:27 pm

                Hi Joe,

                could you describe to me the nature of the incense you are trying to heat? In the process of designing and deciding the operating point of the burner, the burner’s temperature was calibrated to an optimum point for use with the incenses tested +/- 3% – granulated incense, kyara, agarwood, sandalwood, kneaded incenses, blended incense powders etc.

                It seems to me that you are burning something which contains low melting/flash point constituents, which you will definitely need to elevate the incense away from the heating element quite substantially. If your incense is meant to be heated at at around 140-150 degrees celsius, you will need an air gap of about 3.5-4mm from the element, (the screws give you 2mm gap already). to achieve the additional air gap, you can get some small screw nuts, or probably crush some aluminium foil into small balls or cylinders, and position them over the screws line in http://i.imgur.com/dP4aWAD.jpg , and then putting on the mica sheet, and the securing magnets in http://i.imgur.com/cMvyr9I.jpg

                based on my experimental records, that will give you about 150 degrees celsius, and should be good for soft resins

                but if you do not prefer to air-gap it, you can use additional mica sheet for elevation, since mica dissipates heat, each 0.1mm sheet would dissipate about 20 degrees celsius for the first few sheets, and with a few sheets, you can reach your preferred operating point. Once having found that, you can clamp the sheets together either using thick aluminium foil on the edges, and you can mark it for use with soft resins. to protect it you can cut and place a square of the thinnest mica sheet in the centre of this mica assembly for the heating of sticky resins

                do let me know if you have further queries and i’ll be glad to correspond

                – kyarazen

                • Smokinjoe said,

                  April 17, 2013 at 9:55 pm

                  WS,
                  I have been heating mixtures from Mermade, including Ross’s 3 mixtures. Also frankincense tears. I plan to do sandalwood and aloeswood chips but have not done so yet. I understand (now) that there is quite a learning curve with the various aromatics and mica thickness, and all I need is some experimentation and time with the Subitism. That’s all part of the fun!

                  I would like to control the heat through a simple lamp type dimmer, but found the switching power supply does not like that. I would like to try a 12v, 2A transformer based supply, then try the lamp dimmer. Do you have any suggestions regarding that set-up?

                  Joe

                • clairsight said,

                  April 19, 2013 at 4:35 pm

                  I love your dedication to your product WS. It is a treat to see. I am sending out some samples of my mixes to you next week. Thanks for the heater and the great writing.
                  -Ross

  5. Christian said,

    March 25, 2013 at 6:34 pm

    Just an fyi, today I got an email from the creator of this burner. He will be listing his product on Etsy once again. I was thrilled!

    • Marian said,

      March 25, 2013 at 7:06 pm

      Thanks for the update, Christian. That’s terrific news! I know another person who purchased one and he is as happy with his as I am with mine. This is a product I feel comfortable about endorsing more than 100% 🙂
      I am so glad you will be able to purchase one 🙂

  6. Epidoc said,

    March 16, 2013 at 9:55 pm

    Marian, thanks for sharing your experience with the Subitism incense burner. I am really intrigued by your description the pictures on Etsy. I guess I will have to wait until April to place my order.

    • Marian said,

      March 17, 2013 at 3:00 pm

      I hope you find the wait is a worthwhile one, Epidoc.

  7. ted said,

    March 16, 2013 at 2:18 pm

    What was the price on it? Since it’s sold out, I’ll be sticking with my fine-tuned hotplate with 81/2 inch mini skillet for awhile

    • Marian said,

      March 16, 2013 at 7:15 pm

      $54.90, excluding shipping Ted. IMHO very reasonable.

  8. Theo said,

    March 12, 2013 at 2:59 pm

    Hi,

    I emailed him and I was told he is currently sourcing the components to build more units and hopes to be able to ship early April. If you contact him via Etsy he will send you his email address to register your interest! Can’t wait to get my hands on one! 🙂

    • Marian said,

      March 12, 2013 at 4:51 pm

      That’s excellent news, Theo 🙂 Thank you so much for sharing it.

    • C.S. said,

      March 12, 2013 at 6:17 pm

      Thanks, Theo. I did e-mail him at Etsy earlier today and I am now on his list to be informed when the next lot is ready for shipment.

  9. Christian said,

    March 12, 2013 at 9:37 am

    Sounds wonderful. So sorry there are none on the Etsy site. I e-mailed him to see when they might be available, but nevertheless I am disappointed to think he may not make anymore of these ever again.

    • Marian said,

      March 12, 2013 at 12:01 pm

      They sold out very quickly. I know there have been requests for more so perhaps you won’t be disappointed.

  10. Rachel said,

    March 12, 2013 at 6:53 am

    How much did it cost?

    • Marian said,

      March 12, 2013 at 11:59 am

      Rachel- it sold for $54.90 excluding shipping. The $4.90 was the price of the power adapter.


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