Making your own powder incense can be a rewarding home hobby, a holiday gift-making tradition or even a small home business. It is a great way to cut costs and customize the ingredients used.
Loose incense can be heated as is, or kneaded into a variety of sticks, cones, trails and pellets. This is a simple recipe to get you started.
A basic incense recipe is quite forgiving and you can experiment with many herbs, flowers and spices growing in your own garden or local woods. You will need a binder to hold the ingredients together and there are two basic types of binders: wood and gum.
Most recipes will call for makko (made from the bark of the Machillus tree) but other powdered woods such as fir, sandalwood or cedar will also work. You will need at least 10% makko for proper binding.
All dry ingredients must be ground to a fine powder for consistency, better burning and to make the incense stick or cone more easily shaped into the desired form. Consider freezing slightly gummy resins like labdanum before grinding. This makes the process much faster and easier.
As long as you’re using safe, local-to-you plants and that they’re in a dry state, you can pretty much create any type of powdered or granulated incense. Preference for one form over another varies with culture and tradition, but either way, the incense can be shaped into sticks, cones or molds to produce an aromatic smoke that perfumes the air as it burns.
To make incense sticks, knead the ingredients with distilled water until it forms a dough-like consistency and is easy to shape into sticks with your hands. Then, roll the sticks into a coil or criss-cross pattern and tie with twine around the base of the bundle. Let the incense stick dry for up to 2 days.
To make incense trails, pellets or incense sticks, combine botanical powders and makko (litsea glutinosa bark) for a quick and easy incense recipe that’s as simple as can be.
Using a mortar and pestle or a clean coffee grinder grind all ingredients to a fine powder. Some herbs may not crush easily or leave rough bits — this is OK. The finer the powder, the better your incense will hold together and burn.
Mix the powdered herbs, red sandalwood powder, and essential oils. Add a little water or decoction to moisten the mixture, but do not let it become too wet or sticky.
Now, if you plan to make incense pellets, trails, sticks, or cones with this incense, it is best to heat it and see how well it holds a shape. If not, it is a good time to make any adjustments. This also gives you an opportunity to experiment with different herbal combinations.
Using a mortar and pestle, or a grinder or hand-crank coffee mill, grind your ingredients to a fine granular consistency. It is a good idea to freeze gums and resins before grinding (to prevent overheating which can affect their aromatic qualities).
Add your makko powder. Makko powder is made from the bark of the Machillus tree and acts as a binder for your incense mixture. It is very forgiving so can be used by inexperienced incense makers.
To the dry mixture, gradually add water. A small amount at a time, mixing and kneading, until you get a dough-like consistency similar to that of bread dough. The resulting dough can now be shaped into incense cones. Alternatively, it can also be used to make incense trails or sticks.
Making your own herbal incense can be a fun hobby or family holiday tradition. It can also be the start of a home business or an artistic expression. This recipe uses labdanum, or other pliable resin, to bind the herbal ingredients into pellets that can be shaped into sticks or cones. This method of incense making is simple and inexpensive. It does not use any salt peter or charcoal.
For this recipe, you will need the following ingredients: