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Combustible ince nse comes in cone, block or stick form, and is what most people are familiar wit h. Noncombustible incense is burned on a piece of charcoal ingredients You can find most incense ingredients in your kitchen or garden. Others are avai lable at herb stores, drug stores, religious supply stores, health food stores, and bath and body shops. (Check the yellow pages under "incense" for local suppl iers.) Popular choices include: Woods: cedar juniper pine sandalwood Resins: frankincense benzoin myrrh orris root Herbs/gums: cinnamon thyme tragacanth or gum arabic (for molding combustible incense) Liquids: essential oils a liquid such as honey, wine, sap or the like The exact ingredients you'll need will depend on your recipe. Most recipes i nclude a type of wood, a resin, fragrant herbs and a liquid. If you want to make combustible incense, your recipe needs to include tragacanth or gum arabic, whi ch is used to mold the incense into specific shapes. Buy at least two ounces (powdered) of each dry ingredient. Keep in mind that wood is used most often and in the largest quantity. Try to gather as many prepowdered ingredients as you can, to save yourself time and effort. Aside from the recipe ingredients, you'll need some saltpeter (for igniting the incense; ask for it at drug stores) and some charcoal tablets (available whe re 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 elect ric coffee grinder. Woods and some resins won't powder as easily as others, but if you keep at it they'll eventually break down. Consider using the electric gri nder for these items, then finish them off with the mortar and pestle (they will break down but not be completely powdered in the grinder). Use a knife to chop stubborn bits of stem and root if necessary. Once powdered, keep everything tigh tly sealed and labeled in plastic bags or glass jars. Mix the noncombustible ingredients together Noncombustible incense is basically a mixture of powdered herbs, resins and woods 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 noncomb ustible incense needs the charcoal to burn (you light the charcoal and then spri nkle the incense on top of it and combustible incense burns by itself (you can l ight it directly). To create a noncombustible incense mixture, try one of these recipes: Combine equal parts of powdered frankincense, cinnamon, and nutmeg Combine 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 recip e together (say one part equals one tablespoon). You can always add more later. Once everything is combined, your noncombustible incense mixture is complete. Yo u can skip to if you don't want to make combustible incense. Otherwise, it's tim e to make the paste. Make the paste Tragacanth or gum arabic is used to mold your mixture into sticks, cones, or blocks. Here's how to make them into a moldable paste Place a tablespoon or so of the powdered gum into a medium-sized bow l and fill it with eight ounces of warm water. Whisk it until the gum is complet ely dissolved (this will take a few minutes), skimming off any foam that develop s. Let the dissolved gum absorb the water until it becomes a thick, gel atin-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 g um or water to adjust consistency as needed. combustible incense base The following recipe will result in a basic, combustible incense mixture. If one part equals one tablespoon, you'll end up with enough incense mixture to cr eate approximately 60-80 small cones. Six parts powdered wood (sandlewood, cedar, pine, etc.) Two parts powdered benzoin One part ground orris root A few drops essential oil or other liquid like wine, honey, etc. Three to five parts noncombustible incense mixture In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients together in the order given. Weigh the combined mixture with a kitchen scale Determine what ten percent of the total weight is, and add exactly t hat much saltpeter. (So if the mixture weighs ten grams, add one gram of saltpet er.) This measurement must be exact so the incense can burn properly. Mix in the saltpeter 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 resi n should be two to one. Your resin (benzoin, frankincense, myrrh, gums, saps, et c.) should never make up more than one-third of the final mixture. Mold the mixture into the desired shape When your mixture has reached the desired consistency (again, similar to pie dough), it's ready to be molded into shapes. Cones and blocks are the easiest t o mold. Sticks are much more difficult, especially if you don't have a special p ress (sold in craft stores). Try the cones and blocks first. Then when you decid e you're an expert, move on to the sticks. Cones: Roll the incense mixture into small, marble-sized balls with your han ds, then shape them into one-inch long cones. Arrange them upright on a sheet of waxed paper and place them somewhere warm to dry. They'll take three to seven d ays to dry. During this time, turn them regularly so they dry evenly and don't c rack. Blocks: Shape incense into long strips approximately one-third of an inch in height and width, and then cut the strips into one-inch long rectangles. Use th e same drying process as you would for cones (but the blocks can lay flat Sticks: Add more paste to the mixture until it's wet but still thick. If you don't have a special press (highly recommended), pat the dough on waxed paper u ntil it's very thin; then place one stick at a time onto the dough and roll a th in coat around the stick (leaving a few inches on one end uncoated) until the co ating is twice the thickness of the stick (no thicker). Squeeze or press the dou gh onto the stick so it will stay put. Place the uncoated end into some clay, sa nd 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 bur ner or bowl half-filled with sand or salt. Light one end (for cones, place them point-up and light the pointed end) wit h a match or lighter, holding the flame against the tip of the incense until the incense catches fire. Let the flame burn for a few seconds, then blow it out ge ntly. The lit end of the incense will glow and begin releasing its aroma (and a sm all amount of continuous smoke). Each cone, block, or stick will burn for approx imately ten to 25 minutes. your own recipes You can create your own noncombustible recipes and use charcoal tablets as a guide to test the scent. As mentioned previously, noncombustible incense can be burned by itself (on lit charcoal) if you don't have time, or if you find it to o difficult to create cones or sticks. Experiment with your own recipes You can create your own noncombustible recipes and use charcoal tablets as a guide to test the scent. As mentioned previously, noncombustible incense can be burned by itself (on lit charcoal) if you don't have time, or if you find it to o difficult to create cones or sticks. To light the charcoal, pick it up with the tweezers or tongs and hold it ove r a candle flame (it will spark at first, so be careful) until white spots begin
to appear. You can also blow on it to see if it's lit (the spots will glow oran ge when you blow). Place the lit charcoal in a bowl or large, thick shell that's half-filled with sand or salt. Wait until it's burning evenly and is no longer crackling before putting any ingredients on it. Sprinkle a small amount of each herb, wood or oil onto the lit tablet to tes t the scent. Make notes regarding what you like and what works well together. Ma ny things will smell different when they're burning than when they're not. Articles gathered from encarta.com and learn2.com
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