Thurible Cleaning and Repair


Hello. I serve Sunday Mass at my parish. The thurible needs cleaning and repair/upgrading.

Am I correct in thinking that the easiest way to clean the thurible and remove the resin from the incense is to soak it in turpentine?

The thurible has four chains. Three for the bottom part and one to raise and lower the top part. It frequently gets tangled. This is frustrating.

I seem to recall that other thuribles I have used have had a ring through which the four chains are threaded. This prevents entanglement. Does this sound accurate to anyone? If the thurible we have does not have such a ring what would be an easy remedy to improvise one?



Abrasive cleansers and harsh chemicals can ruin the finish. Never use harsh abrasive cleansers on anything except the fire pot. It is best to check with the manufacturer and use what they recommend as there are a variety of metals - silver, copper, brass, gold. Some thuribles are lacquered and require special handling.

Ours are brass and copper. I believe our sacristan uses rubbing alcohol. It is best to not let the resins build up in the first place. Our head sacristan has them cleaned weekly and would never use a dirty thurible for a funeral. says to use carb cleaner but that is seriously nasty flammable stuff.

Good luck.


Keeping in mind the cautions about ruining the finish:

For the inside, I know people who have had good results from spray-on oven cleaner.


Do not put your thurible in turpentine or other harsh chemicals.

Regarding repairing or refurbishing the thurible, contact your local Catholic religious supply company. They will be able to ship the thurible to a reputable repair/refinishing company. They will insure it, ship it, and return it to you looking like new.

Talk to your pastor about this. They likely are already familiar with the local diocesan resources that specialize in this.


Refer to a reputable church suppliers for cleaning - depending on the finish they will have the best advice.

A ring doesn’t necessarily stop chains from becoming tangled but it can make a thurible easier to handle. If you don’t have a ring add a split ring to the chains, spray paint the ring to match the metal/finish.

To clean out the ‘fire bowl’, place lit charcoals in and allow to heat, pour boiling water over them to extinguish and to bring off all the dirt.

Some thurible are very delicate - I have personal experience of painstakingly cleaning one with a sturdy toothbrush, water and soap. :-/


This will sound strange, but soaking it in Coca-cola works wonders.


I’ve actually heard that. Coca-Cola will clean off car battery acid, so I imagine resin incense wouldn’t be able to put up much resistance to it.

If your thurible is silver, you may wish to try denture cleaning tablets. This was a suggestion given to me by a monk at the abbey where I went on retreat last summer. If your thurible is brass, however, proceed with caution. I don’t know why—that’s just what I was told. Both of ours are brass so I have never tried the denture cleaning tablet approach.

If your thurible hasn’t been cleaned in years and/or is damaged, your best bet is to have it professionally restored. This is potentially expensive, however, particularly if precious metals are involved.

I did speak to the manufacturer of our main thurible, and they said for the particular model we have I could even use steel wool on it :eek: YMMV. I’m only telling you this to illustrate the range of possible approaches. Please do not try this without talking to the manufacturer of your own thurible first. I cannot stress this enough!!

Chain entanglement: Our secondary thurible is a five-chain model (the main thurible has a single heavy chain) with both a ring around all the chains and a round metal plate to which the chain ends not attached to the thurible itself are fastened. In my experience it is the plate that prevents the chains from getting tangled, not the ring. As AngelusDomini said, the ring makes the thurible easier to handle.


I wonder who, and how it was, found out that denture cleaning tablets cleaned silver thuribles?


I’ll be back at that abbey in a few months and can ask if you’d like :getholy:


101 uses for an old thurible - denture container! :slight_smile:


How long to soak and how do you clean the coke off afterwards as I’d imagine it would leave it a bit sticky?

I have an old brass thurible at home so may use it to experiment a few home cleaning techniques.


I’m not doubting that many suggestions given work but why experiment or use harsh chemicals? Denture cleaning tablets? Coca-cola? Really?

Why not try hot water first, and then maybe hot soapy water? Hot soapy water is all but free and has almost no risk of harming the thurible. If it doesn’t work then you could always try something else. My mechanic always says, “start with the easy and cheap fix”.

Whatever you use, get it clean and then keep it clean. The sacristans at my parish clean them after every solemnity or funeral. Hot soapy water and some Mr. Metal polishafter the last Mass of a big weekend. 20 minutes is all it takes.

Cleaning a thurible is part of owning a thurible. It’s part of the Monday morning sacristan’s duty.



It depends upon how dirty the thurible is. Start in the morning and check it every two hours. To remove the Coca-Cola, wash the thurible with a mild dishwashing liquid and rinse with hot running water.

I follow your logic, and I do clean our main thurible every Monday. But sometimes conditions are less than ideal. What if, for example, you inherited the job from someone who in 12 years of service never properly cleaned the thurible once? That’s what happened to me, and since the OP mentioned repair as well I suspect something similar may have happened to him.

Because we didn’t have a second thurible until recently, I’ve only now begun to think of ways to get the main thurible cleaned because whatever I do will require it to be absent anything from a week to a few months and we need to have an operational thurible for funerals. I’ve been able to prevent the problem from getting worse, but the 12 years of resin buildup that was there before my arrival isn’t going to vanish with hot water alone.


I have the exact same problem and would love some help.
Our parish has been very modernist and not used incense except at funerals. and nobody has cleaned them for who knows how long.

this is what they look like.[ATTACH]21650[/ATTACH]


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