To start out, I'll post info on some of the types of items that can be used in making incense and finally the actual process for making your own incense.
Gums/Resins: Freeze gums and resins (and the mortar and pestle) for about half an hour before trying to grind them. It makes the grinding process easier. Grind them in a mortar and pestle. You can also grind pre-soaked rice in it to help fill any small holes in its surface so that the gums and resins don't stick in the holes.
Woods: Sometimes it's better to buy pre-ground wood. You can get it in small chips or powdered forms. If you do want to make your own, use a hammer and chisel. Break off small pieces of the wood and then use the hammer and chisel to get them down to pellet size. Once they are that big you can finish grinding them in a coffee grinder.
Herbs, Spices, and Flowers: Most of these can easily be ground in a mortar and pestle. With things like cloves, it can be harder to grind them. Grind them in the mortar and pestle first and then run them through a grinder or mill.
Fruit: Citrus fruits can be grated and then the grated peels can be dried and used in incense. You can also dry peels by placing them on screens, wax paper, a cutting board, and so on. Turn them occasionally. Once they are dried, you can grind them in grinders or mills and then use them in incense blends.
Making Your Incense:
Combustible incense have potassium nitrate (saltpeter) in them to help with the burning process. Combustible incense are usually burned in cones, sticks, and bricks.
Some of the ingredients can be hard to find.
Making Your Glue: - If you have never worked with the gums before and are unsure if you are allergic, be sure to wear gloves and a long sleeve shirt when making your incense.
Gum tragacanth glue, also known as mucilage, is the base ingredient for this type of incense. It can be found in some herbal stores and some pharmacies may carry it. It can be expensive to buy. It was 3.00 an ounce at the time of the printing of Scott Cunningham's book. The book was printed in the late 80s - early 90s so prices for the gum may have changed.
If you can't find the Gum tragacanth glue, you can use gum arabic in its place.
To form the glue, take a teaspoon of the gum and put it in a glass of warm water. Mix it up until all of the gum is dispersed and dissolved. You can speed up the process by using a whisk. This may cause foam to rise, but you can skim it off.
Let the gum absorb the water until it becomes a thick, unpleasant smelling paste. The consistency of the mixture you are making depends highly on the type of incense you are making. Incense sticks are thinner in composition and cones and blocks are heavier in composition.
Once you have made your glue, set it aside and cover it with a damp cloth. It will continue to thicken up, so if it gets too thick just add a little water.
Making Your Incense Base:
This is for a cone incense base.
You will need:
- 6 parts non-self-igniting Charcoal
- 1 part ground Benzoin
- 2 parts ground Sandalwood
- 1 part ground Orris root
- 6 drops of an essential oil that is associated with the herbs added.
- 2-4 parts of an empowered incense (this is an incense that you have made and charged for rituals, Sabbats, spells, and so on. This is made from a non-combustible incense.)
Mix the first four ingredients until you have them well blended. Add the essential oil and mix with your hands. The powder needs to have a fine texture. If you need to, grind it in a mortar until it has the right consistency.
Once that is done, add the empowered incense and mix well. Use a kitchen scale and weigh the incense once you've mixed all of it. Then, add 10% potassium nitrate (you can usually find it at pharmacies). If you made 10 ounces of incense, add an ounce of the nitrate. Mix this until it is properly blended.
If you add too much of the nitrate, the incense will burn too quickly. If you add too little, it might not burn at all.
Now, add the tragacanth glue a teaspoon at a time. Do this until all of the ingredients are wet. For cone incense, the mixture will need to be very stiff and dough-like.
One a sheet of wax paper, shape the incense into cones. Let the incense dry for 2-7 days in a warm spot.
"The Complete Book Of Incense, Oils, and Brews." ~ Scott Cunningham