DIY Powder Incense

DIY Powder Incense

A DIY powder incense project is a great hobby that can become an ongoing part of your home ritual. You’ll learn how to hand-roll incense sticks and cones, and how to make your own powder incense from a variety of ingredients.

The first step is to grind all the dry ingredients finely using a mortar and pestle. Then add makko powder and mix thoroughly – like making bread dough.

How to Make

Making powder incense without the use of salt peter or charcoal is a fun and easy process. All that is required are some herbs, a binder and a source of heat (like fire). The key to making good incense is using a high quality base ingredient. These ingredients are used to weave and hold together the aromatic materials that give the incense its scent. Makko is a common binder that serves this purpose and also functions as an aromatic material itself.

Once the makko is mixed and pliable it can be kneaded to form into incense sticks, snuff or pellets. Adding small amounts of water as you knead the incense gives it a dough-like texture.

You can use any type of binder that works well with the aromatic materials in your recipe. A common wood binder is joss powder, which is often mistakenly referred to as “jiggit.” Wood binders are relatively forgiving and have no scent of their own, but they do not bind as strongly as gum binders.


Making herbal incense is easy and fun. With a bit of practice it is possible to make finely blended incense mixtures that can be heated as loose incense or made into sticks, cones, molds, pellets and trails.

The key to successful incense making is using high quality natural ingredients and balancing their aromatic properties. Woods and resins should be ground to a small, rice-size chips or powder before using in incense making. This can be done using a mortar and pestle (absolutely necessary for gums and resins) or with grinders and mills, both electric and manual.

Many resins come in a pliable form permitting the formation of pellets, such as labdanum used in Japanese recipes like neriko. These are easily formed into pellets with water added to the mix.


Using a mortar and pestle (or clean coffee grinder) grind all ingredients to a fine powder. This will make your incense burn more evenly and consistently. Be sure to grind any woods and resins you’re using so they are less gummy and easier to shape into sticks, cones or molds.

If you’re using a pliable resin like labdanum or elemi to make pellets, or other recipes that call for kneaded incense in general, be sure to freeze it overnight prior to grinding so it will grind more easily. This will also allow the incense to form a more consistent pellet and help it to dry more quickly as well.

Always have some makko on hand for your incense, as this is the primary binder used to bind and hold all the aromatic herbs together. Makko is available in a powder form and works much like a glue to bind your incense mixtures into sticks, cones or molds. It is essential to incense making, and other potential binder substitutes include marshmallow root or guar gum.


Unlike incense sticks which are directly lit and burned, powder incense is made from a mixture of aromatic and non-aromatic ingredients that require a separate heat source to ignite. Traditionally this was done with charcoal or glowing embers which were used to create a smokey fragrance and help the herbs and resins burn properly.

Using a mortar and pestle (or a clean coffee grinder) crush your dried flowers and leaves into a fine powder. The more your crushed herbs are ground up the better they will stick together and burn.

Add a bit of distilled water to the powder and mix well. The mixture should be a gummy and slightly sticky dough that holds its shape when formed into incense cones. Add more water if necessary. If your incense does not stick together and falls apart when molding, you may need to increase the amount of binder you use. Once your incense is shaped into cones, wrap them tightly with twine and place on a heat-proof dish.