How to make your own raw incense
The benefits of making your own incense is one it is cheaper and you can mix your own fragrances Another benefit to making your own incense is, if you are using it for spiritual or magical purposes, you can be assured that all of the ingredients are in harmony with your intent. Secondly making your own means no synthetic materials are used and of course it is much cheaper especially if your use quite a lot of incense. There is no way to really know what a blend will smell like until you take it home and burn it, and if you hate that particular incense fragrance then you're stuck with it. If, however, you like a particular blend and suddenly your can't find it again, you'll most likely never be able to duplicate it unless you have made it yourself. If like me when I used to use the shop brought incense sticks, cones etc they used to affect me and I would end up having an irritated chest and spend the next day coughing or having a sore throat! Not much use if you are like me and love using incense for your Wiccan/Pagan rituals or just love the lovely fragrances being sent around your home.
The basic kinds of incense you can make at home are block incense and raw incense. Block incense is more difficult to make, you need to measure, mix and mould wait for dying times etc and also block incense contains chemicals to aid the burning process.
With raw incense is made easily by mixing and grinding herbs, scented oils, resins or woods then stored in jars or plastic containers until you want to use it.
Raw incense is non-combustible, which means that it must be burned on something like charcoal which is specially made to burn incense ~ do not use BBQ bricks yes I know they are charcoal but it isn’t the same thing at all, these charcoal bricks are not to be used inside your home and they contain toxic chemicals so do not use these types of charcoals!
While we're in a cautious mode, let it be said that you should always burn incense in some type of censor. It could be a censor purchased just for this purpose, or a ceramic dish with a few inches of sand or salt.
How to make your raw incense.
For raw incense mix 1 part wood or gum resin with 2 parts herbs and a few drops of essential oils. Raw incense is easier to experiment with because if you do not like the results you can continue to add more ingredients until you find a balance that you like.
When creating your own fragrances keep censer with a piece of incense charcoal burning near by this way you can check as your going along how the fragrances is and if your happy with it.
So first of all you need to have all your tools and ingredients to hand and this is what you will need ~
Tools and Ingredients
Mortar and pestle or coffee grinder if you don’t have a mortar and pestle or if you find it hard to use one (don’t grind crystals in your coffee grinder!)
Resins, woods and herbs ~ you can use many common kitchen spices that you find in most everday kitchen spice racks, I never throw any 'out of date' for food consumption spices away I save them and use them in my incense making they may be 'out of date' for adding to your casseroles or other foods but they will be fine for making your incense!
A measuring device-spoons, cup, or scales
A hammer and metal mortar-if you have to crush a stone ingredient.
Some small bowls, plates or containers for the powdered ingredients or food bags these will store your crushed before mixing .
A large wooden or ceramic mixing bowl-to blend your ingredients
A container for storing your finished incense (airtight is preferred)
A pen and paper-to write down exactly what you did, so you can
replicate it, in the future.
Tweezers to hold the charcoal while lighting it ~ don’t want any burnt fingers!
Many plants smell quite different when burning so you really need to test out a few to see what you like, you can do this by grounding your herbs, flowers etc one at a time and then sprinkle just a few on to your charcoal and then sniff! If you like that particular fragrance then great if not then don’t bother with that herb, flower etc again it really is trial and error when making your own incense.
No matter what incense recipes you are using, your incense ingredients will most likely need to be powdered, one by one. Some incense ingredients will be easier to grind, than others. Some will take a little practice to find just the right method. Experiment and find out what works best for you. Just don’t fight with it! Keep trying and adjust to how it is for you if your struggling then try something else and keep going until it works again a bit of practise and you will be fine.
If you are not starting with powdered ingredients then of course you must pulverize them using a mortar and pestle or coffee grinder. Electric coffee grinders produce too much heat, allowing for the loss of vital chemicals from your ingredients and therefore shouldn't be used. Also, most resins will break the blades of electric coffee grinders.
If you freeze your resins for a short while (15 min's or so), they will be much easier to pulverize. Resins can only be ground or powdered using a mortar and pestle.
Woods are very difficult to pulverize with a mortar and pestle and really require the use of a hand crank coffee grinder of some sort or simply beginning with powdered woods.
If you are just starting out making incense mixtures then you should keep the number of ingredients down to three (3) to begin with, perhaps one wood and two herbs, or one resin, one wood and one herb, etc. As you get used to making incense you can slowly expand the number of ingredients you use.
So the first step is to choose the recipe you will use and gather the ingredients needed.
NOTEYou do not have to grind your ingredients literally into powder I like to burn mine slightly rougher in texture similar to course salt or coffee granuels so when I say powder your ingredients it doesn't always mean literally! Trial and error is the key and it is all down to personal taste so experiment.
The best thing to do is pulverize your ingredients by grinding woods first, then herbs and saving the resins for last. Resins can make a mess of your mortar and pestle and its best to keep freezing them to get them powdered. We also recommend saving them for grinding last, which allows you to grind everything in your recipe before you have to clean the mortar and pestle. We weigh each ingredient in our recipe after grinding, and then keep one bowl for all your dry ingredients and another for all your resins.
Mix all your dry ingredients together first (herbs and woods), separately mix all your resins together then add your resins mixture to your dry mixture and mix together thoroughly. Throw the completed mixture into your mortar and pestle again and grind it all together one last time to help blend the aroma of each ingredient into the others.
Now, that you have all your herbs, resins, crystals, barks, flowers, etc. powdered and filled with intent, you are ready to mix and blend them into a finished product.
Take all your incense ingredients, one by one, and add them to the large bowl. As you add each ingredient, mix them together with your fingers, visualizing the intended outcome as you do. Add your own power of intention, coming off your hands and blending with the energies of the incense in the bowl. Know that your will is infusing the incense with the energy to help manifest the magical goal.
Now you are ready to add any oils or liquids to your blend. You won't need very much, just a few drops is usually sufficient. If you are making a large amount of incense, and you are short a powdered ingredient, but have that oil on hand, it is usually fine to substitute a couple of drops of oil for the herb. Blend the oils and/or liquids into your incense, visualizing as you go.
For oils, I tend to buy those specific to the recipe I'm doing. After making a few incenses, you'll have a large library. These are the ones I use most:
Use essential oils, rather than perfume oils. An essential oil will generally announce itself on the bottle. And watch out for patchouli oil it is very intense; a few drops will do so don't go raving mad with it!
When working with oils, an eye-dropper is very useful. If you don't have one, at some point I guarantee you will mess up an incense recipe by, say, pouring in a half-ounce of patchouli. Get several to avoid cleaning droppers between oils. Look for eyedroppers at your local chemist. In addition to scent oils, you'll add a base oil to incense to activate some of the esters (scent chemicals) in dried herbs, to make the incense mixture come together better and to help preserve it. You can use safflower oil because it has a very light scent, but I've been told it goes rancid more quickly than others. Other recommended oils are jojoba oil and sesame oil. The strong scent of sesame oil disappears as the mixture dries.
Substitutions are essential for many obscure and poisonous ingredients recommended by old magickal tomes. In case you need to be told, do not use aconite (wolfsbane), belladonna, hemlock, henbane, mistletoe, nightshade or any other poisonous substances in your incense! It's not worth the hassle. Some substances are sufficiently toxic that merely handling them is dangerous. You can replace any poisonous herb in incense with tobacco, as Cunningham suggests.
Likewise, be careful with ingredients that cause smoke that's very foul-smelling or liable to produce an allergic reaction, such as asafoetida, mace, pepper and rue. Some incenses are best burned outdoors.
Some incense will call for a particular stone, as an ingredient. Usually, you only need a very small pinch, to give the effect. Add this in last, visualizing as you do. If you only want to boost your incense, you can normally add a bit of amber, or Benzoin, as they are an all around power booster. Dragon's Blood resin is also used in this way.
Place the finished product in an airtight container, and mark it plainly with name and date. Keep it in a cool dark place. When you are ready to use your incense, just light a charcoal tablet, fan for a minute, then add a teaspoon or so of incense to the top of the tablet. If your incense recipes are being used for a spell or ritual, a tablet will burn for at least 30 minutes so you can light it at any time, and add the incense later.
Cautions and Disclaimers:
Never leave incense or candles burning unattended.
Charcoal tablets, used improperly can cause severe burns or house fires. If you have never used charcoal tablets, be sure to read about them.
Here are some one-herb incense that can be burned on charcoal blocks as needed. They are instant incenses, needing no mixing or measuring. Simply grind them before use.
1) Allspice: Burn to attract money and luck and to provide extra physical energy.
2) Bay: Use a small amount for purification and protection of the home.
3) Cedar: Smoulder for purification, protection, to speed healing and promote spirituality, and to obtain money.
4) Cinnamon: Burn to sharpen psychic powers, to draw money, speed healing, confer protection and to strengthen love.
5) Clove: Protection, exorcism, money, love and purification.
6) Fern: Burn the dried fronds indoors to exorcise evil, and outdoors to bring rain.
7) Juniper: Exorcism, protection, healing and love.
8) Pine: smoulder for money, purification, healing and exorcism.
9) Rosemary: Burn for protection, exorcism, purification, healing and to cause sleep; to restore or maintain youth, to bring love and to increase intellectual powers.
10) Sage: Smoulder to promote healing and spirituality.
11) Sandalwood: For Protection, healing, exorcism, and spirituality.
12) Thyme: Health, healing and purification.