Make Incense: How to Make your Own Natural Incense

Making incense is an ancient art, and it's never been easier to make your own incense using much the same process and ingredients as ancient people.

Incense can be made loose or shaped into sticks, cones, and spirals.

Here are recipes for both kinds of incense.

Loose Incense
1. Resin, such as amber, gum arabic, balsam, dragon's blood, myrrh, and frankincense
2. Wood powder, such as cedar, sandalwood, juniper, pine, and spruce
3. Aromatics, such as powdered cloves, chamomile, henna, coriander, lavender, juniper berries, lemongrass, patchouli, marjoram, rosemary, rose petals, and vanilla. There are other aromatics you can use, too, as long as they are dried and powered. Herbs like sage and ginger can be used, and come in powdered form at the grocery store.

All of your ingredients will need to be powdered. Powdering the resin should be done last, since you will probably have to wash your mortar and pestle afterward. Freeze the resin to make it easier to pulverize. While it is in the freezer, you can powder your herbs. Powdering wood by using home implements is difficult. Try to get wood/saw dust from someone who cuts wood or cut your own and collect the dust.

Mix these ingredients to make loose incense in the following proportion:
2 parts resin
2 parts wood (you can use a combination, say pine and spruce, 1 part of each)
4 parts aromatic, or a combination of aromatics

To release the scent of loose incense, there are various things you can do.
-Sprinkle your loose incense over a hot, wood coal that has been set into a bowl of sand or ash.
-Place a plate made from mica over the burning coal and sprinkle the loose incense onto the mica plate.

Incense Sticks and Cones
To make incense sticks and cones or other shapes, you will need to mix in a moist binder. Then you can shape the incense "clay" or "dough" into whatever shape you like. The ingredients are the same but the method is different.

Begin by liquefying your powdered gum resin. Stir a teaspoon of the ground resin into a cup of warm water or other liquid. (You can make this liquid part of the scent, using tea, rose water, or other scented liquid.) As the resin absorbs the water and thickens into a paste, you can powder and mix your dry ingredients.

Gradually add the thick, liquid gum to the dry ingredients a little at a time, mixing with your hands as you go. When it is the consistency of play-dough, shape into cones, coils, or even fun cut-out shapes. Set your shaped incense on a wooden board to dry.