Saturday, August 6, 2016

Making your Own Incense

We recently put on our love beads, listened to some old albums and had a class where we made herbal incense. We made two types of incense. A chunky herbal incense which burns on self lighting charcoal briquettes.  This fragrant class was held outdoors and we invited everyone to burn some of the herbs and resins in the egg cartons to get a sense of their scent. Then everyone created a small baggie of loose herbs to take home and burn on the provided charcoal. The resins such as the dragon's blood, frankincense, myrrh, and amber burn slower and longer so everyone was encouraged to include some resin the mix. The other barks such as cinnamon and sandlewood burn slower as well.  The fragrant herbs on the right such as eucalyptus, rose, white sage, mint, rose and lemon verbena burn faster but provide the lighter top notes to the mix and so are equally important to try.   Everyone agreed that burning the actual herb is so much more of an intense and natural scent.

Next we mixed up a dry blend of herbs with some Gum Tragacanth which we dissolved in warm water.  Gum Tragacanth acts like the "glue" to then form incense cones.  The other important ingredient is a cautious amount of salt petre which is what helps the cone incense burn slowly and consistently. Too much and it burns too quickly.  Too much and it goes boom! The above bowl was 3 T. allspice, 3 T. powdered roses, 3 T. dragons blood resin and 1 scant T. salt petre. Essentiallly, the salt petre is about 10% of the recipe by volume.
This blend was 3 T. frankincense, 3 T. myrrh, 3 T. patchouli powder and 1 scant T. salt petre.
These dry mixes were slowly blended with the Gum Tragacanth water and then everyone got their hands dirty and made incense cones. 
Intern Molly Sams of the Essential Herbal magazine helped with this class. You can find an excellent book, written by Tina Sams and Maryanne Schwartz on Making your Own Incense on their website.

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