People from all walks of life use incense as well as most religions around the world. In Christianity, Buddhism and Hinduism, for example, the use of incense symbolizes reverence and devotion to God or the divine. Some use incense along with candles to set a romantic mood while others use incense as air fresheners or to relieve stress and meditate. Incense, made of a variety of essential oils, wood, resins, flowers or herbs can come in several forms, including loose, pellets, sticks and cones. People use rosemary, an ancient, popular incense, to help stimulate mental clarity and concentration. Purchase supplies at nurseries, herb stores, incense stores and online.
Things You'll Need
- Rosemary herbs, dried
- Incense wood
- Incense resin
- Mortar and pestle
- Electric coffee grinder (optional)
- Measuring cup
- Large mixing bowl made of ceramic or wood
- Plastic airtight food storage bags
- Wax paper
- Bamboo sticks
- Distilled water
- Tweezers for charcoal
- Incense burner or metal or ceramic bowl
- Ash or sand
- Lighter or matches
- Food processor (optional)
- Writing pen
Freeze the resin you will use to make your incense before you begin. Frozen resin grinds more easily into a powder. You have many types of resin to choose from, including myrrh, amber and dragon's blood.
Grind 1 cup of dried rosemary herbs using the mortar and pestle until you have a powder form. Place the powdered rosemary into the mixing bowl.
Grind 1/2 cup wood or bark for your incense until it becomes a powder. Choose from a variety of wood, such as pine, sandalwood and cedar. Add the powdered wood to the rosemary in the mixing bowl.
Place 1/2 cup of frozen resin into the mortar and grind it into powder form. Add the powdered resin into the mixing bowl with the rosemary and wood.
Place all three powdered ingredients back into the mortar and pestle and grind them together this time. This blends each ingredient's aroma into the others. Now you have loose incense, ready to burn.
Light a piece of charcoal and heat your loose incense mixture over it. You can also place the loose incense in an incense burner filled with ash or sand. If you do not have an incense burner, use any bowl or cup made of metal, pottery or wood.
Write down everything you did to make your incense, especially if you added a little more or less of any ingredient or added something different. You can refer to this as your rosemary loose incense recipe.
Add 3/4 cup of raisins to 1 cup of your loose incense mixture.
Blend the raisins and loose incense using a food processor. If you do not have a food processor, mash some raisins and loose incense with a mortar and pestle a little at a time until all of the mixture contains mashed raisins.
Empty the contents of the pulverized raisins and loose incense into a mixing bowl.
Drizzle 1 tsp. of honey into the mixture. Knead the mixture with the honey well, using your hands.
Crumble the mixture and spread it out on wax paper. Let the mixture dry away from heat or sunlight. You can also make little balls the size of peas and spread them out onto the wax paper to dry. Turn the pellets daily for two to four weeks until completely dry.
Burn the incense pellets on charcoal or in an incense burner filled with sand.
Make loose incense and pulverize with the mortar and pestle until it becomes a very fine powder. Let it age overnight to blend the aromas.
Add 1 1/2 to 3 tbsp. of makko to about 4 tbsp. of the loose fine-powdered incense in a mixing bowl. Made from the bark of the tabu no ki tree in Southeast Asia, makko is water soluble and naturally combustible. Makko also burns evenly, making it ideal for incense sticks.
Play with the amount of makko since the humidity in your area can affect how makko blends with the incense powder. Record all adjustments in your notebook.
Add just a little of the distilled water very slowly into the incense mixture with the makko. Mix the incense using your hands. The mixture should look and feel gummy while it holds its form. Knead the incense mixture well like dough.
Roll sticks out of the dough-like incense mixture onto a sheet of wax paper using your hands. You can also roll this mixture onto plain bamboo sticks.
Dry your incense sticks for about two weeks, depending on the humidity in your area. Keep them away from heat and sunlight.
Burn your incense sticks after placing them in an incense holder designed for sticks or set them upright in a bowl filled with sand.
Tips & Warnings
- Experiment with different quantities and ratios of herbs, woods and resins. Write down all recipes as you work.
- Age your incense mixtures for about two weeks before using them so you have a more blended aroma.
- Place your new incense pellets into a ceramic container with a tight-fitting lid, then let it age up to one year.
- If your sticks did not turn out the way you wanted them to, just grind them up again and add more makko or more loose incense and a little distilled water. Knead well and make new sticks to dry.
- When using charcoal to burn your incense, dowse it with water when you no longer need it. Charcoal continues to smolder and heat, making it a fire hazard.
- Do not use charcoal made with saltpeter, a toxic substance when inhaled. If your charcoal crackles when you light it, it probable contains saltpeter.
- Scents of the Earth: How to Make Incense
- Liturgy And Life: The Use Of Incense In Church
- Washington State University: Questions About Hinduism
- "2003 Herbal Almanac"; Llewellyn; 2002
- Photo Credit rÃ¤uchern image by Silvia Bogdanski from Fotolia.com