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How Incense Sticks Are Made

Incense Inspiration

How Incense Sticks Are Made

Incense and the burning of incense have been an aspect of human culture for thousands of years. Evidence also shows that the ancient Egyptians regularly burned incense as far back as the seventh century. In that era, incense was mainly used for two reasons - Religion and to repel bad odours.

Priests and sorcerers of Ancient Egypt would burn incense to appease gods and repel evil spirits or demons. The pleasant aroma, according to the sorcerers bore spiritual abilities. They also used it during meditations and rituals. Incense burners have been found in several civilizations

incense sticks

1. The Indus Civilization (3300-1300 BCE)
2. Ancient China in 2000BCE. 

Incense has been burned for prayer and worship, meditation and even to get rid of bugs. The history we know of incense shows that ancient civilizations valued incense. These civilizations often used a particular type of incense and this type is called an incense stick.

Incense sticks are one of the most popular types of incense. As earlier mentioned, incense sticks were one of the first types of incense created. They are simply sticks lathered in incense paste. Incense sticks come in various lengths. The sticks, themselves, can come from any type of wood, however, these are the most common choices.

1. Sandalwood
2. Pine
3. Cedar
4. Bamboo

incense sandalwood

Most Common Wood Options for Incense Sticks

These are the most common wood options for incense sticks. The items that make up incense itself vary, however, there are six main ingredients needed.

1. Seed
2. Root
3. Bark
4. Flowers
5. Resin
6. Combustible Base

The first four items are relatively easy to acquire however the last two need extra care. Resin is material made from compounds in a tree. When exposed to oxygen, resin hardens which then makes it useful for incense production. A combustible base on the other hand can either be natural plant-based or fuel and oxidizing mixture. For the natural base, gum is the most common base used. For fuel mixtures, charcoal and wood powders are highly favoured.

incense sticks made

Make Incense Sticks Yourself Step by Step

For beginners, incense sticks can be made in simple ways.  

1. Purchase Simple Incense Stick

The first thing you need to do is purchase simple incense sticks. They should be unscented or marked as blank. It is important that you ensure they are unscented and blank or else their pre-existing scent will affect the general scent you're trying to achieve.

2. Make a Base

2. The incense sticks may come with a base. This base should be gum-like and lathered around the stick. If it doesn't come with one, you can apply a base yourself.

3. Mix with Ingredients Powder or Essential Oils

This next step provides you with two options. The first option would be to take the first four ingredients we outlined above and crush them into a powder. Once this is done, you add the combustible base and a little liquid to ensure it becomes a paste. Then you rub it all around your wooden incense stick.

The second option would be to use essential oilsYou can purchase essential oils at most local stores if you're not interested in grinding roots and flowers into a powder. All you need to do is mix the essential oils of your choice then soak the incense sticks in them for about 20 minutes.

incense sticks making

4. Select the Incense Type

If you're confused on the type of scent to purchase here are some ideas. Sage, Lemongrass, Cedar, Sandalwood, Rose, Vanilla, Frankincense and Myrrh. There are many other scents but these are a few pleasant scents that should be well suited for most people.

5. Oil Absorption

Now, it is important to note that some mixtures of essential oils will not be pleasant. So if it is your first time, keep it very simple. The incense sticks should fully absorb the oil. It should not be completely submerged in oil. The oil should be of little quantity for each incense stick to ensure each stick absorbs the oil completely.

6. Dry the Incense Sticks

Once the absorption process is done we move on to drying them. This is the part that needs patience. The incense stick has to be completely dry before they are lit. Therefore, they should be allowed to dry for as long as 15 hours.

This is the simple way to make an incense stick easily. It is important that you expect some incense sticks to turn out badly if you lack the professional skills. It's fun to make incense sticks at home. Trying out new scents and mixing scents may seem like a good idea but more often than not, some scents simply don't mix well. To avoid this you can order incense powder in several scents that have been tried and tested.

All you need to do after getting this powder is adding your combustible base (charcoal, wood powder), a little liquid and knead into a dough-like texture. Once the dough is ready, you can begin lathering your incense sticks yourself. This is how the ancient civilizations prepared incense. 

how incense making handwork

Incense sticks can be burnt on a flat surface or on an incense holder which you can find here. For those who would like to explore other types of incense, you can try out incense cones or Incense coils. Incense coils are perfect for large rooms. They circulate quickly and are fine on a flat surface. Incense cones on the other hand offer a richer experience. Incense cones are tightly packed in the shape of a cone. They need special incense burner you can find here.

The great thing about incense cones and their burners is that they provide a visual performance with the incense smoke. Incense Ocean offers cone incense burners like the Yoga girl burner and the Dragon Incense cone burner. If you're a fan of visuals, then you'll love these burners.

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Incense sticks have stood the test of time as they continue to stay relevant over several thousands of years. Making them can be a soothing and therapeutic experience because the scent is also pronounced during the production of incense sticks.

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