I learned this simple trick from a nice Japanese family recently while my family had dinner at their house. Previously, I have tried to make incense holders at home because good store-bought ones are hard to find, or too long or too big to fit the nook in my bookshelf. For example, I tried to make a homemade one filled with salt or popcorn, but the incense sticks just fell over.
So what’s the trick? Baking soda in a small bowl (or Tupperware in my case).
The baking soda is super cheap and works surprisingly well because it is heavy and naturally clumps. I also like how it keeps the incense stumps in there like real temples do. 🙂 Plus the whole thing fits well into the little nook we use for a Buddhist altar. If you use half a stick of incense like I do, it also keeps the altar from getting too smoky.
Something for Buddhists on a budget to try at home. Let me know if it works!
P.S. Another bit of advice: do not light incense when you have a cold! It just makes things worse.