INCENSE

By contrast to oils incenses are very easy to make. Though many excellent commercial incenses are available and excellent to use, there is no reason to feel limited to them.

An incense is simply an aromatic plant, dried and burned. It may be burned in a fire, or more commonly over charcoal. If a binding agent is used the incense may be shaped into sticks or cones and burned on its own.

All manner of plants are used to make incense, including common kitchen spices which you probably have in your home for use in cooking, like cinnamon or cloves.

The simplest kind of incense to make is powdered incense. In a powdered incense the dried plant is reduced to very small pieces or ground to a powder in a mortar and pestle. The resulting powder is then sprinkled over a lit charcoal, as described above. It is best to use a self lighting charcoal of the sort made specially for incense, and readily available at most metaphysical stores. Charcoal prepared for incense is not as dense as cooking charcoal that you might use for a bar-b-que -it is much easier to light, and burns much quicker.

Powdered incense is by far the oldest and most dramatic form of incense. It gives you more direct control over how much you use, and if you choose to use a lot it will create billowing clouds of scented smoke that are very atmospheric. However you will need an incense burner to safely hold the charcoal, which gets very hot.

Commercial incense is also available in solid form, as cones or sticks. Solid incense gives you less control but more convenience -once a cone or stick is lit, it will keep burning at a steady rate until it is gone, with no further effort from you.

Solid incense is commercially available in so many varieties and scents that you would never have to make your own. But you can make your own, if you want to.

To make a solid incense you will begin with a powdered one: assemble the dried plant materials you wish to use and powder them in a mortar and pestle. Now mix the incense powder with a binding agent -gum arabic or acacia gum being good choices readily available from many art supply stores. Mix thoroughly and mold into the desired shape on a piece of waxed paper.

Either form the incense into cones like those commercially produced, or roll into a layer 1/4 inch thick and cut into cubes, or mold the mixture onto a broomstraw for stick incense. Then leave them to dry on the waxed paper.

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