Resin incense is a combustible incense that requires an external source of heat to burn. This can be charcoal or burning embers.
Place your resin incense mixture into a jar that has a lid and close it. This allows the incense to age and the aromas to synergize. The aging process takes some time.
1. Choose Your Ingredients Wisely
When making resin incense it is essential that the ingredients are of high quality. The best way to determine this is to visit local herb shops, incense stores or even nurseries and scout out aromatic treasures that are native to your area.
When purchasing materials, be sure to read the label to ensure it is pure and contains no saltpeter. Saltpeter is a chemical that can alter the aroma and cause the charcoal to become too hot.
Another important tip is to grind the herbs to a fine powder before measuring. This will make the incense burn more reliably. It will also help with the moulding process for cones and sticks. Grind the herbs and spices using a mortar and pestle (absolutely necessary for gums and resins) or a hand-cranked grinder. A metal sifter or strainer is often helpful, too. If your ingredients are gummy, try freezing them for 15-30 minutes before grinding to facilitate the process.
2. Make Sure You Have the Right Tools
There are many different ways to make resin incense. However, it is important to have the right tools for the job. Resin incense should be made on a heat safe dish in a smoke and heat safe area, away from pets, children and flammable objects. It is also helpful to crack open a window or door to allow for proper ventilation.
It is best to grind all ingredients to a very fine powder prior to burning them to insure the resins burn evenly and more thoroughly. Unless you have an expensive industrial grinder, it is best to use a mortar and pestle. You can also sift the ground powder through a metal sifter/strainer to remove any large gummy grains. Soft gum resins such as labdanum and elemi are often best frozen before grinding to help them break up easier.
Once your mixture is prepared, place it in an incense burner designed for burning resins or a small dish with a bit of salt or sand to absorb the heat. When the charcoal disc has self-ignited and ash is beginning to form, add one or more resin pieces to the coal and wait as it begins to burn and release its fragrance.
3. Practice Makes Perfect
When first starting out, it may be best to limit your experimentation to one or two resins and woods. This will give you a feel for the process and will allow your senses to become familiar with how the different substances combine and aromatize.
Once you’ve gained a comfort level with the basic process of heating resin incense, you can move on to making incense trails, sticks, cones and molds. To make these you will need to grind your ingredients to a fine powder. To achieve this it is recommended to use a mortar and pestle (absolutely necessary for gum resins such as labdanum and elemi) or a hand-crank grinder or mill. It is also helpful to have a small metal sifter or strainer to help with this process.
Grinding and sifting will help your incense to burn more consistently and evenly. Additionally, it’s a good idea to freeze slightly gummy resins such as onycha and frankincense before grinding them. This will facilitate the grinding and will allow the ingredients to bind together more easily.
4. Keep a Journal
Since antiquity, people have used incense for spiritual, ritual and healing purposes. Today, you can still experience this magical fragrance when you make and burn your own resin incense at home.
As with most incense making, it’s a good idea to keep track of your ingredients as you work. This way, you’ll be able to recreate the recipe later, or adjust it to your liking. To do this, you can use a digital scale (the preferred method), or a set of measuring spoons and cups.
For resin incense, you need a container that can hold the charcoal that will be burned to heat up the resins. This container can be a small bowl, or something else you have at home that will not get damaged by the smoldering resin. Fill it with sand, ash or salt; these materials will absorb the coal’s heat and help to avoid overheating the resins. Let the incense jar age for several days or weeks; this helps the aromas to synergize and develop into a more complex scent.