Creating Your Own Incense Recipes

Creating Your Own Incense Recipes

A mortar and pestle or clean coffee grinder is used to crush dried herbs into a fine powder. This will make the incense burn slower and more evenly.

Base materials like red sandalwood, cedar, and pine resin add a distinct scent to the incense mixture. Choose one that fits your purpose and complements the herbal blend you plan to create.

1. Grind the Herbs

When making homemade incense, it’s important to grind the herbs to a fine powder so that they’ll heat and release their scent when burnt. If you have a grinder, use that to make the job go quicker and easier.

Look for herbs and woods that are fresh and still potent; over time they lose their scent, so choose newer ones. You can also find inspiration for your own incense recipes by taking a walk in the garden or in the woods and paying attention to the plants that grow there.

Some resins like labdanum have a pliable form that allows them to be molded into pellets or incense sticks (neriko). Add these to your loose incense mixture, then knead and dry the dough as described below.

2. Mix the Powders

Using powdered herbs in an incense recipe is very simple. Mix the herbs together in a bowl, adding ingredients like honey. You will need around 1.5 tsp of this mixture to create one incense cone.

Combine the herb mixture with makko, a water soluble binder. Makko is a natural tree bark that contains no salt peter or charcoal. Chances are, you can find makko in your local woods or even your backyard.

Add a little makko at a time, mixing the ingredients well. When the mixture becomes a dough-like consistency that is easily shaped with your hands, you have added enough.

3. Add Water

Incense is used in many cultures for spiritual ceremonies, to address bad odors or to aid in relaxation and meditation. Using ingredients and tools you already have in your kitchen, it’s easy to create and shape your own homemade incense recipes into sticks, cones, molds or pellets.

All incense requires a base, binder and aromatics. The base burns well and evenly, the binder weaves together like a glue and the aromatics lend their scent. If you are making your own incense, makko is a great choice because it functions as both a binder and base. If you do not have makko, other binding choices include marshmallow root or guar gum. Add a few drops of distilled water at a time until the mixture has a dough-like consistency.

4. Roll the Dough

When the incense mix reaches a dough-like consistency it is ready to be molded. It is important to grind the woods and resins to a fine powder before molding as this helps them burn evenly when burned. Slightly gummy resins like labdanum and elemi are best frozen before grinding to help them grind easily.

The dough-like incense is then shaped into cones and pierced with a nail to create the airflow necessary to allow for burning. The piercing also helps the incense to retain its shape when a cone is lit and used.

Using local, indigenous or wildcrafted botanicals can be an empowering experience. This approach allows you to have a more intimate relationship with the aromatic plants that you use and to participate in the whole process from start to finish.

5. Dry

Once your herbal incense is kneaded and shaped into cones, it’s time to dry. Hang it upside down in a cool, dry place for one week to let the moisture completely escape before you burn it.

This will help your DIY incense recipes last longer, and it also allows for any future adjustments to be made. For example, if you find that your incense doesn’t burn consistently or quickly enough, you can add more makko powder to the recipe and re-knead the cones to see if they improve.

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