I have been making incense for the last few years as Christmas gifts and wanted to share how to make your own. If you like making your own aromatherapy-based products for your home, you can find recipes for Reed Diffusers and Himalayan Salt Potpourri in my book DIY Kitchen Chemistry.
Making incense is quite simple. You might see some recipes telling you to put essential oils directly onto the sticks and burn. This causes your incense to burn very fast and produces more black smoke. Using dipropylene glycol helps your incense burn slower, the scent to absorb into the incense, and reduces black smoke. (More information about dipropylene glycol at the end of the post.)
You can use just one essential oil or create blends. I’ve made some with up to 12 essential oils in it. Keep it as simple or complex as you’d like. The key is just to keep the percentages of essential oils to dipropylene glycol.
Citrus Spice Incense
1 ounce Orange Valencia Essential Oil | Bramble Berry
0.5 ounce Clove Leaf Essential Oil | Bramble Berry
0.5 ounces Cinnamon Leaf Essential Oil | Bramble Berry
4 ounces Dipropylene Glycol
Fir Needle Incense
0.5 ounce Fir Needle Essential Oil, Siberian | Bramble Berry
1.5 ounces Lemon Essential Oil | Bramble Berry
4 ounces Dipropylene Glycol
There are a couple of methods you can use at home to make your own incense. If you are considering making them for retail sale I suggest following the vertical method because it will take less space and there is less waste because the material you soak in can be used over and over again.
Vertical Method: Bind sticks at the top before soaking for 24 hours. Soak sticks in bundles into the mixture for 24 hours in a beaker of material. Store left over material future use or start the next batch. Once you remove the incense from the beaker you can hang them or stand up the bundles for another 24 hours to dry. Bind sticks at the top before soaking for 24 hours. The bundles can be placed on parchment paper or hung to dry for the next 24 hours.
Horizontal Method: Gently roll sticks in mixture until thoroughly coated and then allow to rest in it for 24 hours. This can either be done on trays with tin foil or in bins.
After allowing them to soak for 24 hours stand them up in something like a coffee mug or beaker for an additional 24 hours to dry. If you used a bin you can also perch them along the edges to dry.
Once your incense is dry you can package them in special plastic bags, kraft tubes, or boxes. There are lots of options for incense burners. Here are a few of my favorites: Incense Burner with Ash Catcher, Kaizen Casa Incense Burner Stick Holder Ash Catcher, and Slice of Goodness Grey Cement Incense Holder Large Cube.
What exactly is dipropylene glycol?
Dipropylene glycol is produced as a byproduct of the manufacture of propylene glycol. It works well as a solvent of essential and fragrance oils. dipropylene glycol is not acutely toxic by oral, dermal, or inhalation exposure, it is not toxic to genetic material based on in vitro and in vivo study findings. Dipropylene glycols low toxicity and solvent properties make it a common additive for perfumes, reed diffusers and skin and hair care products. It is also a common ingredient in commercial fog fluid, used in entertainment industry smoke and haze machines.
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