We know you can buy prepared ingredients to make your own loose incense, but we prefer preparing our own.
It feels more personal, especially if you’re giving loose incense as a gift. There’s also something special—dare we say magical?—about preparing your own ingredients. It feels like the incense is infused with your purpose and intention.
Before you make loose incense, you’ve first got to make a few decisions.
You probably have more ingredients options than you’ve thought of. Ask yourself what kind of aroma you’d like to fill your home with.
Do you like floral and fruity? Woodsy? Spicy and delicious? Resinous? You can create any of these scents, or combine them to come up with your own unique combination.
Herbs and Spices
You can burn almost any herb or spice for incense. To choose the right ones, just use your nose. (Clove, cinnamon and cardamom are lovely, but unconventional choices like fennel can really spice things up!)
Grind them with a coffee grinder to create a finely ground powder. You can also use a mortar and pestle, or a hand-crank grinder.
Seeds and Nuts
Choose nuts and seeds that smell delicious when they roast, like almonds or pumpkin seeds. You can use an electric grinder for these, or use your mortar and pestle to break them down, and finish the job with your hand-crank.
Fruit and Berries
We recommend drying these out first. You can slice fruit and dry it in your oven. Or use a fruit peeler or cheese grater to create small bits of the skin or rind. Orange zest makes a wonderful incense ingredient! After drying fruit slices, grind them up into smaller pieces. If you’re using citrus zest, just let it dry and you’re good to go.
Gums and Resins
These are some of our favorite incense ingredients! But they can be tricky to work with. Try freezing them first to reduce the gumminess. You don’t want to put these in an electric grinder. Even frozen, they could seriously gum up the works. The best way to do it is also the oldest—with a mortar and pestle. You won’t get a fine grind, but that’s okay. Resins release strong aromas even when burned in larger chunks.
Wood and Bark
Another tricky one. Use a small hammer and wood chisel on a cutting board to whittle wood down into rice-sized chips. (Tip: It's best if the cutting board isn't made of wood, which might dent or divot under a chisel.) You don’t need to make a powder here, but once your chips are small enough, you can grind them further with a hand-crank or electric grinder.
These are just a few popular incense ingredients. You can really use any natural, safe substance that burns. It doesn't even have to produce a pleasant scent, depending on your purposes. (Maybe you want to fumigate your home!) Get creative!
Now go on to learn some loose incense recipes you can make yourself!