article is from Scents-of-Earth™
© Copyright 2001
to Make Incense
how to make incense the way it's been made by virtually every
civilization since before the Stone Age; with fine natural incense
resins, woods and herbs.
is a meditative and enjoyable way to exercise our creativity.
It's simple, inexpensive and awakens us to the pleasures of earth's
aromatic treasures and our interconnection with nature. Create
recipes that greet the rising sun with a clean and invigorating
aroma, entertain guests with exotic fragrances, purify indoor
spaces, enhance dream activity, relax with a soft, smooth, calming
mixture that eases the troubles of the day, or blend a warm,
sweet and seductive mixture to stimulate your sensuality for
an evening of mystery and intimacy.
incense has been used for creating aromatic, fragrant spaces
both indoors and out. Incense has always been deeply intertwined
with religious ceremonies as well as the practice of medicine.
In fact the first reported healing practices, recorded in ancient
Egypt, exposed patients to the smoke of incense for healing.
your connection to nature as soft clouds of frankincense, mastic,
storax, sandalwood, cassia, juniper and lemon grass ascend to
the heavens! Let's rediscover the ancient art of how to make
the type of incense you'll make
how you will heat your incense
ingredients (or use powders)
a drying or curing time
What "type" of incense
will you make?
incense - used when forming your mixtures into cones
or sticks by adding a binding material and a combustible
material directly to the incense mixture (no reported explosions
yet!). One end is lit, the flame then fanned out, allowing
it to burn continuously by themselves. This incense is more
difficult to make but easier to burn. Makes traveling with
incense (incense of the ancients) - "loose
incense" (just the ingredients themselves, after
grinding and mixing) or "incense pellets" (loose
incense where soft resins, balsams, raisins or dried
fruits and honey have been added to form pea sized "pellets").
This incense is heated using charcoal, makko or
on mica atop charcoal. This is the easiest method of
mixing incense but requires just a few more steps and
utensils to burn.
How will you heat your incense?
you are making cones or sticks then burning your incense
is straight forward and simple; you light one end of
the cone or stick, fan out the flame and allow it to
slowly burn of its own accord. Note: In some cultures
it is considered disrespectful to all that is nature
to "blow" out the flame. If you are burning
loose incense mixtures or incense pellets, then you'll
need charcoal or makko to
heat your mixtures. If you are burning incense outdoors;
individual ingredients, loose mixtures and incense pellets
can be placed directly in a small campfire (best when
there are just glowing coals remaining, no flame) or
on a hot rock on the outer rim of a campfire, etc.
burning vessel - varies by the "type" of
incense you will be burning
incense (loose ingredients or pellets): usually a
cup, bowl or saucer shaped vessel filled with ash or sand is
ideal (can be made of wood, metal or pottery). Large sea shells,
such as abalone, work well too.
incense (cones, sticks, coils): again a cup, bowl,
saucer or shell shaped vessel works well or one of the infinite
number of specialty holders designed for this type of incense
works great as well.
you to choose an incense burner that is handmade or perhaps even
enjoy making one yourself. There is an energy to a handmade burner
that cannot be put into words, it blends perfectly with the burning
of natural incense. This "union" seems to be missing,
even reversed with a mass produced incense burner.
Note: We have
found that using a cup or bowl shaped incense burner filled with ash is
the most versatile way to burn incense. It allows for every style
of burning that we know of and the burning of every type of incense
except coils, though with a little imagination one could probably
work that out as well. The incense burner is most versatile when
filled with ash (allows for burying charcoals koh doh style as
well as using makko), the ash most often used is white rice ash.
You can also use sand or pulverized lava rock in these incense
burners as an alternative.
of burning non-combustible incense
at three ancient methods for burning "loose incense" or "incense
· Charcoal -
Here we light a piece of bamboo charcoal (without saltpeter or
other toxic chemical additives!) and set it in the center of
our bowl filled with ash or sand. We sprinkle our incense mixture
directly on top of the charcoal or right next to it. The charcoal
heats the materials and releases their fragrance into the air.
This has probably been the most common method of burning incense
· Makko -
Makko is a natural combustible material from the Tabu-no-ki tree,
which grows in parts of Asia. It is a powdered material that
burns slowly but with high heat. An indentation is made in the
ash using an ash press then the trail is filled with makko powder
and compacted slightly using the ash press again (any small form
that will make a one way path in the makko makes a fine ash press).See
or Makko page for photographs.
· Mica -
here we use the charcoal method of heating our incense ingredients
but with the addition of a small mica plate placed either on
top of the charcoal or we bury the charcoal in a cone-shaped
mound of ash by using a flat butter knife or incense utensil.
A vent hole is poked from the top of the mound of ash down to
the charcoal and the mica is then placed on top of the hole and
mound of ash. We then sprinkle a small amount of our incense
on top of the mica plate and allow the mica to heat up and release
the fragrances of our incense materials. This method will produce
very little smoke yet still fill the room with rich fragrance.
This method originates from Japan and is used for during their
Koh doh and Kumiko ceremonies.
Note: We burn
our own loose incense mixtures using mostly the mica or makko
methods. After use, the ash can be sifted to remove any incense
ingredients that may have spilled into it. Unburned pieces can
saltpeter as an oxidizer is a common ingredient in many charcoals
sold today. Saltpeter on today's market is either sodium nitrate
or potassium nitrate, both of these are toxic chemicals and warn
against inhalation. We recommend using bamboo charcoal or makko
to burn your incense. A good way to tell if your charcoal has
saltpeter in it is to see if it crackles when lit, if it does
it most probably contains saltpeter. Here are MSDS reports on sodium
nitrate and potassium
nitrate that we've found on the web.
that you have chosen what type of incense you wish to enjoy
and what kind of incense burner you'll use, it's time to start
enjoying the fine art of incense making. The first thing we
need is to assemble our list of tools and supplies to make
and burn our incense.
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