Guide to Using Incense

Guide to Using Incense

Imagine an item that can deliver more XP per coin than a premium raid pass that’s used for a legendary raid. Then imagine this same item also can net you more Stardust per coin than a purchased Incubator, even when used on a 10k egg. Sounds pretty great, right?

Guess what, this item exists! When used properly, Incense is an incredibly versatile and efficient item that can greatly accelerate your Stardust and XP gains. So why does Incense get overlooked? Why is it bashed in every forum? Well, first let us learn how it works, then we’ll address some of the many misconceptions that give Incense a bad rap, and finally we’ll learn to maximize it.

Mechanics of Incense
Mechanics of Incense

Incense lasts for 30 minutes. It can be purchased individually for 80 coins, and it costs 50 coins each in its cheapest form (bundle of 25). It is also commonly included in promotional boxes and is a reward for passing various levels.

When you are standing still, Incense produces one spawn every 5 minutes. However, Incense is much stronger if you are moving. Each minute the game will check how far you have moved. Each time you have travelled at least 200 meters from the previous spawn, you will get another spawn. Therefore, you can get 30 spawns over the duration if you move 200 meters each minute. Be careful though… if your speed is above 50 miles per hour you will generally not be able to catch Pokémon. Most will immediately pop out of the ball and run after you throw.

Incense pulls from the biome you are in when the spawn occurs. The Incense spawns will resemble what usually spawns in the area… similar amount of weather boosting, similar frequency of 2nd and 3rd evolutions, and similar species. Note that this does not mean Incense will give the same Pokémon you get from a specific nest. Incense only pulls from biome and ignores nest information. If Incense is used in a remote area with no defined biome, a wide variety of random Pokémon can spawn.

Unlike Incubators and Raids, Incense spawns have IV spawns similar to those of normal spawns. ATK, DEF, and STA IVs will vary randomly between 0 and 15. Spawns will be between level 1 and level 30 (or up to level 35 with weather boost).

Incense will give event spawns at a similar frequency to their appearance in the wild. This is extremely valuable for maximizing limited edition Community Day spawns. Yes, Incense spawns can be shiny too!

Once a Pokémon spawns via Incense, it will stay on your screen for 60 seconds unless you travel a very significant distance. You are able to catch other Pokémon, interact with gyms, and spin stops AND THEN STILL click the Incense spawn, even if you have traveled hundreds of meters away from it.

Pokémon Go Plus and Go-tcha will prioritize Incense spawns over anything else on the screen and will attempt to catch the Pokémon immediately.

Incense Myths
Incense Myths

Myth: No one ever gets anything good with Incense. It’s only Weedles and rats

Fact: Many people have gotten epic Incense spawns, but that’s hardly the point of the item. Incense is about increasing total spawns, not necessarily getting good ones. And Incense spawns will resemble what you get in the area you are playing. If your house gets Pidgey and Rattata all day and you pop Incense there, expect more birds and rats. On the other hand, if you are near river or ocean, you are more likely to see water spawns. Or if you are in an industrial area filled with electric and steel types, you can expect a steady flow of Magnemite and Voltorb from your Incense.

Myth: Incense only gives a few spawns

Fact: If you stay still this is true. However, when you move around you will get more spawns. The faster you move, the more you get, up to one a minute!

Myth: Incense is a poor value compared to other items in the store

Fact: That depends on what you want, but 50 coins each is a pretty good deal for an item that can net you 4000+ Stardust & 7000+ XP (without a Star Piece or Lucky Egg). And the value gets even better when it is part of a promotional package. See below for a comparison of Incense to other premium items.

Myth: I live in an urban area and do not need any more spawns

Fact: Stardust is awesome. Unless you are one of the very few who hits the catch cap daily, there are opportunities for you to get more spawns. While Incense might not help urban players in every day game play, it is a great addition on that bus trip to visit your cousin, or a perfect way to kill time while you and your friends are stuck in traffic. Sometimes it can even add a few extra spawns to that long walk in the park, and you can get more shots at Community Day Pokémon.

Myth: Incense is only good in a car and is bad for egg distance

Fact: There is some truth here. When maximizing Incense and travelling 200 meters per minute, you are exceeding the maximum speed for hatching eggs. In addition, most people cannot maintain a 200 meter per minute pace while still accurately catching Pokémon, so to maximize Incense you generally need to be in a car or riding a bike. However, let’s look at this from a different perspective:

1) You are already in a car (ideally as a passenger or with Go Plus/Go-tcha) and on a ride where you are going less than 50 miles per hour for more than 30 minutes. Given that you are in this situation, you aren’t hatching eggs anyway. But if you use Incense you can get up to 30 additional spawns that you would not otherwise get.

2) You are walking in an awesome biome filled with creatures that have candy you need. You pop an Incense. Sure, you won’t get the full 30 spawns (I usually get 12 to 15 while walking very briskly), but you are increasing spawns while still hatching your eggs.

Comparison to Other Premium Items
Comparison to Other Premium Items

This video shows a pretty standard Incense run when attempting to maximize xp and dust. I was able to get 28 spawns and received 5020 XP from catching. I also estimate I earned another ~2200 xp in future evolves and got 3975 Stardust. This assumes no use of a Lucky Egg/Star Piece either while using Incense or evolving later. We’ll use this as a baseline for our comparison against some of the more popular uses of coins:

Item # of Pokemon Min Cost XP Dust
Incense 28 random spawns 50 5020+2206 3975
Legendary Raid 1 lvl 20 or 25 Legendary Pokemon, IV >66% 100 ~10000 500
Incubator w/ 10k egg 1 lvl 20 mon, IV >66% 50 per use 1000 1600-3200
Incubator w/ 5k egg 1 lvl 20 mon, IV >66% 50 per use 500 800-1600
Incubator w/ 2k egg 1 lvl 20 mon, IV >66% 50 per use 200 400-800

Without question, a premium raid pass used for a legendary raid is the most coin efficient item/bundle consistently available in the store. In addition to the large amount of XP, it gives unique rewards like TMs and Rare Candy while also granting a chance to catch a very powerful Pokémon (or Suicune). Please do not construe anything in this article as a recommendation to spend a limited amount of coins on Incense over Legendary raids.

When it comes to Incubators vs Incense, it’s less clear which is better… it is all about personal preference:

Are you looking for Stardust to round out your team and get more balls in raids? Then Incense is the obvious choice.

Are you attempting to level up and quickly stock enough evolves for your next lucky egg? Then you definitely want Incense.

Are you trying to complete a dex or find a high IV gen 3 rare? Well then maybe you prefer Incubators.


It really depends what you want. In my mind, Stardust is the most important thing in the game, so I significantly prefer Incense to Incubators.

While they may seem similar on the surface, Lures and Incense are really an apples and oranges comparison. Over a 30-minute span, a Lure will give 10 spawns. When sitting in once spot, this is better than Incense (6 spawns). If you can move (or have to move), Incense becomes much better. But where they differ is in who they affect. You, your friends, and anyone else around benefit from the same lure. Only one player benefits from an Incense.

Lucky Eggs vs Incense is another matter of preference. If you are rushing to hit a level milestone, the experience gained from a Lucky Egg will get you there faster. If you are planning to build a robust battle team and don’t mind taking your time to reach 40, the Stardust gained from Incense is more valuable long term. These items work very well together too, as Incense can fill up you Pokebox with evolve fodder for your next Lucky Egg!

Maximizing Your Incense
Maximizing Your Incense

How do you maximize Incense? There are a bunch of different ways. It depends what you want!

I want Stardust!

Hop on a car, bus, train, or bike that is generally traveling between 8 and 45 mph, then pop on Incense. Catch everything you can! This is a great time to use a Star Piece as well. If you are in an area with many natural spawns or stops, you’ll benefit from using Go Plus/Go’tcha to try to catch as much as possible. If you are on a rural road without many spawns, manually catching is better. Obviously, safety of yourself and others is important, so use common sense before you play and drive.

It’s Community Day. I need more Pikachu/Dratini/Shiny Pokemon!

Regardless of how you play, Incense is a fantastic option on Community Day. At worst it can help you get 6 extra spawns each half an hour, and a few of them will likely be the featured Pokémon. At best, you can move around and get many more. The more spawns you see, the better your chance at a high IV/CP or shiny Pokémon.

I’m looking to farm a specific semi-rare Pokémon

We already knew Incense was biome specific, but the introduction of weather has given players the potential to almost control what they get. I’ll use Center City Philadelphia as an example. In Philly and the surrounding areas Machop are pretty rare to find outside of nests. However, there is one small area around City Hall where they spawn somewhat frequently, especially on cloudy days. Using Incense there on cloudy days will generally net you 5-6 Machop out of a 30 spawn Incense. I recently found a similar area on a trip to San Diego with Trapinch on a sunny day and quickly got my Flygon. This is a great way to farm Lotad on a rainy day in a grass biome, and it makes hunting shiny Snorunt and Poochyena much easier in the appropriate weather.

I’m in the middle of nowhere. There seem to be no spawns around me

First of all, if there are absolutely no spawns, popping Incense at 11:45 PM can allow you to get two days on your catch streak that you otherwise might have missed.

Secondly, an area with no in game spawn information should give a wide variety of Pokémon when using Incense. Be aware that this does not mean no spawns points… the area has to have no spawn information whatsoever. It is possible to find an area like this using Ingress and specifically looking for areas that are far away from XM points. User reports state that the spawn variety has been dialed back since the game was originally released, but it should still be different that what you see in your everyday play.

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