Incense has been used in most cultures throughout the world for many purposes.
Some of these purposes include: additions to religious ceremonies, spiritual meditation, and aromatherapy.
Making your own incense sticks is relatively simple, can be done in your kitchen, and allows you to be creative with your own scent combinations and ingredients.
Here are some general steps to follow to create homemade incense:
1. First, you’ll want to buy a pack of blank, or unscented, incense sticks.
You can find these at some specialty shops, or in packs of 100 here and packs of 1000 here. They may be labeled as either unscented or blank, and they should be inexpensive. If they are market at over $5.00, they’re selling them a bit too high. Do not attempt to use a regular stick from the garden, or even a real bamboo stick. There is a thick, gummy-like coating on the outside that you will absolutely need in order for them to absorb the scent.
2. Find your favorite scents of essential oil. This is the fun part! You can even mix and match if desired.
Essential oils can be found in the health section of many supermarkets, health food stores, and Amazon.com. Essential oils are strongly concentrated liquid scents that will soak into the incense sticks. It is important to use pure essential oils and not “oil blends” that can contain non-oil ingredients such as alcohol. You can use just one for a specific scent, or buy a few to mix together. Some common scents for incense include:
Wood Scents include: sandalwood, pine, cedar, juniper, pinion pine, Texas cedar wood, blue cypress, clarity sage, and carrot seed.
Herbal Scents include: Sage, thyme, lemongrass, rosemary, star anise, chamomile, geranium, jasmine, juniper berry, lavender, rose, and ylang ylang.
Floral Scents include: lavender, iris, rose, saffron, hibiscus, lemon, rosemary, and peppermint.
Other scents include: orange flower, cinnamon, calamus root, frankincense, vanilla, myrrh, and cherry blossom.
3. In a small dish that is wide but shallow, mix 20 drops of your oils for each stick you're planning on making.
If you only want to make one at a time, 20 drops will be fine. You should no do more than 4-5 sticks at a time. If you're mixing scents, start with only a few drops at a time until you get a combination you are happy with. There aren’t a lot of combinations that will smell necessarily “bad," but you should still experiment to find what you like.
4. Place your sticks in the shallow dish and turn them around slowly to coat them.
If the sticks don't fit, transfer your essential oils to a sheet of aluminum foil, partially folded into a V to ensure none leaks out. Make sure all the sides of the stick soak up the essential oils. Press the sticks in the oil until it is all absorbed. This shouldn't take too long, but you might have to move them around a bit to be sure it is all coated. When the oil has disappeared from the pan, you can move on to the next stick/batch. Place the sticks incense-end-up in a mug or short cup to dry overnight.
The sticks need about 15 hours to dry out before they can be burned.
One great thing about drying incense is that they smell amazing as they’re drying as well, so it will actually smell like you’re burning them, even if you’re not yet!
*Bonus Tip: Mix your oils with Di-propylene Glycol (DPG) and soak them overnight in test-tubes for an extra-strength stick.
This chemical sounds scary, but it is easily purchased here or in the same stores where blank sticks are sold. Still using 20 drops per stick, mix it with DPG in a long, thin tube, enough that at least 3/4's of the stick is “covered.”
Dunk the stick in the mixture and let it sit for 24 hours, then dry for 24 hours before using.
Have you made your own incense at home before?
Let us know how it turned out in the comment section below!