Perhaps the most unpleasant item on the to-clean list of brass or silver is a thurible which has a heavy build-up on the inside of the top. The outside is easily taken care of with MAAS- a product for cleaning metalware. I prefer this to Brasso, hands down. MAAS can be purchased in hardware stores and comes in a can, bottle or a tube. Smoky thurible chains are always a challenge. The trick to keeping a shiny thurible is not allowing a build -up to accumulate. I always line the charcoal brazier with heavy duty aluminum foil. It will not show when the thurible is closed and it makes for an easy clean-up when the ashes are cold inside.
The hard work comes in cleaning the inside of the top where the smoke exits through the openings and up inside the very top nooks and crannies. I took a trip to the Greek Orthodox monastery of the Holy Transfiguration in Brookline, Massachusetts to see how they make incense there and most importantly to see how they clean their hand censers and chain thuribles which had delightful jangling jingle bells on the chains. I also visited Church of the Advent on Brimmer Street in Boston and asked the same pressing questions. Seems like there are a few favored products for cleaning out the residue from dry cleaning fluid to acetone. Acetone got the most thumbs up but one must be sure to wear gloves, and work in a well-ventilated space. Acetone is also the active ingredient in fingernail polish remover. Mineral turpentine and even olive oil have been suggested. I tried the olive oil and it takes a LOT of rubbing to get results. Once the inside of the top is spic and span, spray it with PAM non-stick spray for cooking , and wipe away the excess which will help prevent the resin and smoke from sticking as much. This also works on the candle snuffer “bell” end. Tomorrow we will have a chat about incense and self-light charcoal wafers. Using the right products can make a difference in leaving less residue.