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Homemade Incense

Homemade Incense

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Published by Brian K Ballard
make your own incense
make your own incense

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Published by: Brian K Ballard on Apr 15, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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IncenseThere are two types of incense, combustible and noncombustible. Combustible incense comes in cone, block or stick form, and is what most people are familiar with. Noncombustible incense is burned on a piece of charcoalingredientsYou can find most incense ingredients in your kitchen or garden. Others are available at herb stores, drug stores, religious supply stores, health food stores,and bath and body shops. (Check the yellow pages under "incense" for local suppliers.) Popular choices include:Woods: 
cedar 
juniper 
pine 
sandalwoodResins: 
frankincense 
benzoin 
myrrh 
orris rootHerbs/gums: 
cinnamon 
thyme 
tragacanth or gum arabic (for molding combustible incense)Liquids: 
essential oils 
a liquid such as honey, wine, sap or the likeThe exact ingredients you'll need will depend on your recipe. Most recipes include a type of wood, a resin, fragrant herbs and a liquid. If you want to makecombustible incense, your recipe needs to include tragacanth or gum arabic, which is used to mold the incense into specific shapes.Buy at least two ounces (powdered) of each dry ingredient. Keep in mind thatwood is used most often and in the largest quantity. Try to gather as many pre-powdered ingredients as you can, to save yourself time and effort.Aside from the recipe ingredients, you'll need some saltpeter (for ignitingthe incense; ask for it at drug stores) and some charcoal tablets (available where incense ingredients are sold; don't use barbeque charcoal for this).Once you've collected everything, grind each dry item (except the charcoal)that isn't already crushed into a fine powder with a mortar and pestle and electric coffee grinder. Woods and some resins won't powder as easily as others, butif you keep at it they'll eventually break down. Consider using the electric grinder for these items, then finish them off with the mortar and pestle (they willbreak down but not be completely powdered in the grinder). Use a knife to chopstubborn bits of stem and root if necessary. Once powdered, keep everything tightly sealed and labeled in plastic bags or glass jars.Mix the noncombustible ingredients togetherNoncombustible incense is basically a mixture of powdered herbs, resins andwoods that can be burned on charcoal tablets or stirred in as the fragrance for
 
a combustible mixture. The only difference between the two types is that noncombustible incense needs the charcoal to burn (you light the charcoal and then sprinkle the incense on top of it and combustible incense burns by itself (you can light it directly).To create a noncombustible incense mixture, try one of these recipes:Combine equal parts of powderedfrankincense, cinnamon, and nutmegCombine one part each of nutmeg and cinnamon,and one-half part each of orange peel and lemon peel.In a large bowl, mix a small amount of the ingredients for your chosen recipe together (say one part equals one tablespoon). You can always add more later.Once everything is combined, your noncombustible incense mixture is complete. You can skip to if you don't want to make combustible incense. Otherwise, it's time to make the paste.Make the pasteTragacanth or gum arabic is used to mold your mixture into sticks, cones, orblocks. Here's how to make them into a moldable pastePlace a tablespoon or so of the powdered gum into a medium-sized bowl and fill it with eight ounces of warm water. Whisk it until the gum is completely dissolved (this will take a few minutes), skimming off any foam that develops.Let the dissolved gum absorb the water until it becomes a thick, gelatin-like paste.Cover the bowl with a wet cloth and set it aside as it's thickening.The thickening process will take at least a couple hours. You can mix in more gum or water to adjust consistency as needed.combustible incense baseThe following recipe will result in a basic, combustible incense mixture. Ifone part equals one tablespoon, you'll end up with enough incense mixture to create approximately 60-80 small cones.Six parts powdered wood (sandlewood, cedar, pine, etc.)Two parts powdered benzoinOne part ground orris rootA few drops essential oil or other liquid like wine, honey, etc.Three to five parts noncombustible incense mixtureIn a large bowl, mix all the ingredientstogether in the order given.Weigh the combined mixture with a kitchen scaleDetermine what ten percent of the total weight is, and add exactly that much saltpeter. (So if the mixture weighs ten grams, add one gram of saltpeter.) This measurement must be exact so the incense can burn properly. Mix in thesaltpeter thoroughly.Add the paste, one teaspoon or so at a time, and judge consistency.It should be dough-like, very similar to that of a pie crust (not too wet but mo
 
ist enough so you can mold it with your hands).Note: When creating combustible incense, the ratio of powdered woods to resin should be two to one. Your resin (benzoin, frankincense, myrrh, gums, saps, etc.) should never make up more than one-third of the final mixture.Mold the mixture into the desired shapeWhen your mixture has reached the desired consistency (again, similar to piedough), it's ready to be molded into shapes. Cones and blocks are the easiest to mold. Sticks are much more difficult, especially if you don't have a special press (sold in craft stores). Try the cones and blocks first. Then when you decide you're an expert, move on to the sticks.Cones: Roll the incense mixture into small, marble-sized balls with your hands, then shape them into one-inch long cones. Arrange them upright on a sheet ofwaxed paper and place them somewhere warm to dry. They'll take three to seven days to dry. During this time, turn them regularly so they dry evenly and don't crack.Blocks: Shape incense into long strips approximately one-third of an inch inheight and width, and then cut the strips into one-inch long rectangles. Use the same drying process as you would for cones (but the blocks can lay flatSticks: Add more paste to the mixture until it's wet but still thick. If youdon't have a special press (highly recommended), pat the dough on waxed paper until it's very thin; then place one stick at a time onto the dough and roll a thin coat around the stick (leaving a few inches on one end uncoated) until the coating is twice the thickness of the stick (no thicker). Squeeze or press the dough onto the stick so it will stay put. Place the uncoated end into some clay, sand or another substance that will allow it to stand upright to dry.To burn cones, blocks, or sticks, place them one at a time in an incense burner or bowl half-filled with sand or salt.Light one end (for cones, place them point-up and light the pointed end) with a match or lighter, holding the flame against the tip of the incense until theincense catches fire. Let the flame burn for a few seconds, then blow it out gently.The lit end of the incense will glow and begin releasing its aroma (and a small amount of continuous smoke). Each cone, block, or stick will burn for approximately ten to 25 minutes.your own recipesYou can create your own noncombustible recipes and use charcoal tablets as aguide to test the scent. As mentioned previously, noncombustible incense can beburned by itself (on lit charcoal) if you don't have time, or if you find it too difficult to create cones or sticks.Experiment with your own recipesYou can create your own noncombustible recipes and use charcoal tablets as aguide to test the scent. As mentioned previously, noncombustible incense can beburned by itself (on lit charcoal) if you don't have time, or if you find it too difficult to create cones or sticks.To light the charcoal, pick it up with the tweezers or tongs and hold it over a candle flame (it will spark at first, so be careful) until white spots begin

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