Incense is among the many consumable items Pokémon GO that can be used by players to enhance gameplay. As suggested by its Shop description, Incense gives off a mysterious fragrance that is capable of attracting wild Pokémon to the user’s location for a total of 30 minutes. Incense can be bought at the Shop but is also awarded to players when they reach certain levels in the game.
If you have Incense in your backpack and want to use it, simply tap on the Pokéball at the bottom of your screen > Items > Incense, and then finally tap on the floating image of the Incense on your screen. When you activate Incense, a ring of pink mist surrounds your avatar, and a similar ring of pink mist can also be seen surrounding any Pokémon that spawn in your vicinity because of the Incense.
When you activate Incense, approximately one Pokémon is going to spawn in your immediate vicinity every 5 minutes due to the item’s effects. Since that is the case, most players use Incense when they are stationary and want Pokémon to come to them instead of them going after Pokémon (when they are at home or work, for example). Catching 5-6 Pokémon in 30 minutes without even having to move from your location is pretty neat, but a quick look at Pokémon GO’s coding has revealed that doing so is not the most effective use of Incense.
In fact, players will be able to make much greater use of Incense when they are moving – moving upwards of 12 KM/Hr, to be more precise. You see, when you use Incense while you are stationary, the Incense only spawns one Pokémon near you every 5 minutes. However, if you manage to move 200 meters every minute, the spawn rate changes to one Pokémon every one minute – totaling up to 30 Pokémon during the use of a single Incense item.
If you want one Pokémon to spawn in your immediate vicinity every one minute, you are going to have to cover a distance of one kilometer every 5 minutes, which means that you need to be moving at least 12 KM/Hr to get the most out of your use of Incense. If you manage to meet their criteria, you should be able to successfully encounter and catch at least 10-15 Pokémon during the use of one Incense item, accounting for both server lag and the amount of time it takes you to catch one Pokémon that spawned due of the Incense.
If you activate Incense while you are travelling at least 12 KM/Hr (when you are jogging, riding a train/bus/other form of public transportation or riding in a car (but not driving it), for example), you will be able to catch at least double the amount of Pokémon that you would have otherwise caught if you had used the Incense and remained fairly stationary throughout the period of time during which it was in effect.