Incense is deeply entwined with ritual, purification and prayer. It is also a way of connecting to nature through soft clouds of scented smoke.
It is common to mix many different scents when creating your own incense recipes. This can be tricky because not all scents blend well together.
Start with a Base Scent
Incense is a beloved form of aromatherapy and has been used in religious ceremonies as well as home fragrance for thousands of years. It’s easy to make your own fragrant incense sticks with just a handful of ingredients.
The incense base, like sandalwood or makko powder, is a vital part of every recipe. It binds the aromatics to each other and provides a slow burn. Some bases have strong scents of their own, while others are neutral or act as a perfect compliment to aromatics.
Any herbal powder can be used as an incense base, though some are more readily available than others. Be sure to grind the herbs to a fine powder and sift them through a metal sifter or strainer to eliminate larger pieces that might clog your cones, trails, or sticks.
Layer Other Scents on Top
When it comes to layering fragrances, there aren’t any absolute rules – the results can be as unpredictable as your own body chemistry. However, a few basic guidelines can help ensure your creations turn out as they should.
Start with the heaviest fragrances like sandalwood, frankincense, amber, or musk to create a foundation for other scents. These are the ‘base notes’ that are most likely to last long on your skin, as they have the longest molecules.
From there, add in your middle or heart scents such as classic florals like jasmine, rose, and tuberose, or spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and peppercorn. Finally, top notes add the finishing touch to your scents with fresh, citrusy or herbal aromas.
Remember to apply each scent in small amounts at a time, so you don’t overwhelm your senses. And don’t be afraid to experiment – you never know when you might find your signature scent!
Trust Your Nose
When you’re mixing your own incense, it’s not always easy to predict how the scent will turn out. Some ingredients might not blend well, or you might not be happy with the way your recipe smells. If that’s the case, just try another combination and keep repeating the process until you get a result you like.
Using an electric grinder or a mortar and pestle, grind your ingredients into powder. Freezing your resin before grinding helps prevent the gummy bits from sticking together and also makes it easier to work with. Once you have your ingredients in powder form, mix them with water until they are kneaded into a dough. Knead the mixture into sticks of incense and let them dry for 1-5 days before burning.
In the meantime, enjoy the wonderful aroma of your creation! Use these incense for spiritual and ceremonial purposes, or simply to enhance your daily life with its beautiful scents.
Record Your Recipes
It takes a bit of practice to get the hang of making incense recipes, but as long as you know what you’re doing and are using safe herbs, feel free to experiment. You can even make the same recipe multiple times and take note of how the scent changes over time.
Whether used for ritual purposes, to clean or deodorize your home, as a form of medicine, to strengthen spiritual connection, or just to relax and smell good, incense has been an important part of human life for centuries. The ingredients vary, but all are unified by their reliance on aromatic plant-based substances.
Using dried and powdered herbs, a few other natural materials and some common household items, you can make incense in about two days. Once your incense is ready to use, keep it in a cool dry place away from direct sunlight. We have all the ingredients and tools you need to get started here at Co-op Market.