Incense Making Basics

Most of the time when we think of incense or oils what comes to mind is the packaged stick stuff or the thick purple perfume knock off at the gas station or the dollar store or where ever. But real incenses are more complex, but many aren't hard to make at all! They are spirit lifting and the best ones are NOT mass produced. Surprising to most, they are so very easy to make! So, before I go off babbling about my favorite subject, let us dive into the tools that you should have on hand, shall we?

For Incense you will need:
    mortar & pestle (to finely powder herbs)
    coffee grinder ( is optional, most purists dont use them, but for me, they help with the rougher woods)
    a bowel or 2 (to hold ingredients)
    spoons/measuring cup/scale (so you can properly measure out how much of what went in where)
    incense burner (a non metal or plastic bowl to place ash or sand in)
    sand or ash (to place the bamboo coal on once lit)
    tweezers (to hold the coal so it can be lit and placed on the ash or sand)
    incense ingredients (woods, resins, flowers, essential oils, etc.)
    bamboo charcoal (contains non of the stinky or harmful salt peter (sodium nitrate or potassium nitrate)
    a notebook ( to record your recipes, amounts, successes and failures)

This is the way that you would make a 'non-combustible' incense. That means that it does not light on its own, therefor it does not contain harmful additions such as sodium nitrate or potassium nitrate. The very first incense that you should undertake should be a simple one. Maybe you have a favorite woodsy smell, maybe pine or sandalwood. Or maybe you favor more spicy scents such as cumin or cardamon. Either way there are more incense recipes in books and on the web than you can shake a stick at! So, here is the one secret to creating a no fail incense...every incense should have at least one resin or wood in each recipe.

If you are just starting out making incense mixtures then you should keep the number of ingredients down to three to begin with, perhaps one wood and two herbs, or one resin, one wood and one herb, etc. As you get used to making incense you can slowly expand the number of ingredients you use. Resins, often, will make a mess of your mortar and pestle and its best freeze them to get them powdered. I save them for grinding last, because you can grind and powder everything before you have to clean the mortar and pestle. You can weigh or measure each ingredient in our recipe after grinding, then keep one bowl for all our dry ingredients and another for all our resins.
Mix all your dry ingredients together first (herbs & woods), separately mix all your resins together then add your resins mixture to your dry mixture and mix together thoroughly. We like to throw the completed mixture into our mortar and pestle again and grind it all together one last time to help blend the aroma of each ingredient into the others. At this time, if you were planning on using any essential oils, now's the time.

You did it! See, I told you it wasn't all that hard, pretty easy right!?


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Patricia Mühlbacher said...
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Patricia Mühlbacher said...

Hey Megan, I came across your blog from the PPBH and got caught in your very first post. I didn't know it was that easy :D And thinking about it, I got almost everything I need at home in Austria, so when I return from the States, I will give it a try.
I do have one question though. I once bought an incence burner, a tiny copper bowl, but you wrote that metal shouldn't be used. Is this only because of the good heat conducting abilities, or is there another reason?
Patricia from My Season's Seasoning

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