Incense and aromatherapy are inter-related like no other. Since ancient times, people have considered it essential to burn incense to clear out odors, to bring in positive energy and create a refreshing and pleasant atmosphere. Our forefathers used natural herbs, resins and gums as incense during religious or ritualistic events and ceremonies. Though incense burning is more common these days, most of the incense burnt are synthetic stuff, made out of chemical fragrances than natural essential oils or resins. One can make natural incense at home using aromatherapy essential oils. This article will elaborate in detail on how to make incense using plant oils.
Forms of incense available: It is not that only ancients used essential oils for incense making. Even our incense manufacturers use them for better aromas. But the problem is, most of such current day incense sticks contain a lot of synthetic materials. Completely devoid of natural stuff, synthetic incense sticks may emit toxic elements in the atmosphere, and slowly turn detrimental to our health.
Incense sticks: Incense sticks are the most common form of incense. They can be dipped or hand-rolled, depending on the manufacturer and their place of production. Dipped incense sticks consist of thin wooden sticks that have a combustible powder coating of charcoal or wood. These sticks are then dipped aromatic essential oils and dried for use. Hand-rolled incense sticks are popular in countries like India and are more natural compared to the dipped ones.
Incense cones: These are commercially available stuff and contain a lot of synthetics. However, you can use essential oils to make natural incense cones. The basic ingredients include a combination of powdered plant substances, aromatic items like resins, gums etc. and combustible powders.
Other incense items: Smudge sticks used by Native Americans use white sage and make long sticks out of them. Then, they bundle them and burn them together. Most of the smudge sticks are made from plant products like Sweet Grass, Juniper Berries etc. Another incense item of significance is the Japanese ‘Koh’. It is an equivalent of spaghetti in structure and shape and is made of powdered wood, herbs, resins and essential oils. Aromatic natural resins like Frankincense, Myrrh, Opoponax and Dragon’s Blood can be burned alone as incense. Woods like Aloeswood, Sandalwood and Cedarwood can also be burned alone, with chips, woods or resins.
If you note, aromatic oils play a part in all the above forms of incense. Though this is good, when commercially used, these aromatic substances are mixed with synthetics and sold. This can be toxic to people with respiratory problems and others who are allergic to certain chemicals. To avoid such overuse of synthetics, it is better to use natural plant products. Below is a recipe on how to make incense at home:
How to make incense at home: Combine 1 part of Frankincense powder, 1 part of Myrrh powder, 1 part of Sandalwood powder, 3-4 parts of Makko powder and 4-5 drops of essential oil of your choice. This one part can be one tbsp of something. Mix the ingredients with a spoon or fork in a bowl and add water drop by drop. Bring the mixture to a dough like consistency and add essential oils of your liking. You can use Frankincense, Sandalwood, Patchouli, Vetiver or Orange. They work well when it comes to making incense. Once the mixture is ready for use, make them into cones or roll them using your hands into sticks. Dry the cones/rolled sticks on wax paper for 2 to 3 days and use after that.