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The Aromahead Blog - Aromatherapy Education and Resources

How To Make Incense Sticks with Essential Oils

by Andrea Butje on February 16, 2015

Learn to make incense sticks with essential oils.

I love burning incense! Loose incense, stick incense, cone incense—I’m a fan of them all! I especially love to make my own incense and customize the scent.

There is actually a way to make the sticks themselves using makko powder. I’m creating a class about making incense that will show you how. But for now, I’ll share how I use essential oils to scent blank sticks.

I recently learned that most blank incense sticks have a combustible powder coating that may be toxic, and that the sticks are often made from woods and glues that may be toxic as well. I recommend using unscented punk sticks made with joss/mako powder.

I use an olive dish to make incense sticks—it’s just a long, narrow little dish. (I don’t actually put olives in mine. It’s just for incense making!) If you don’t have a long, shallow dish to use, you can take a piece of aluminum foil and fold it in a “V” shape. Make sure to fold up the ends, so the oil won’t spill out. Now you’ve got a temporary “incense making dish!”

make your own incense

You can make incense sticks one at a time, or in small bunches.

To make just one, lay a blank incense stick in your dish and drop your essential oils right onto it. Each stick takes about 20 drops of essential oil. I usually choose up to three oils. (If I use too many oils, I won’t have enough drops of each to distribute over the length of the stick.) Gently press the stick into the oil that falls in the dish, so it absorbs it all.

To make incense sticks in small batches, first measure out your oils. I use a little graduated cylinder for this, but you can always do it drop by drop.

If one incense stick takes 20 drops of oil, and you want to make five incense sticks at the same time, how many drops of oil would you need? That’s right—about 100. (It comes to about 4 ml of essential oil.)

If you don’t have a graduated cylinder, you can drop your oils directly into your dish, and gently stir them with the end of a spoon or a glass stir rod. Then place five blank sticks into the dish, and press gently so they absorb all the oil.

Now just set your homemade incense sticks in a mug to dry overnight (between 10 and 15 hours) before burning them. This mug full of newly made incense will strongly scent the room you leave it in! You don’t even have to burn the incense right away; the room will hold the aroma of the incense for days!

You can watch the process of making incense sticks on the Aromahead YouTube Channel!

Why does incense play such a key role in so many medicinal and spiritual traditions around the world?

How does incense work to help us access deeper levels of wisdom and healing?

Can you tap into these properties of incense and enhance your essential oil practice?

I can answer the last question for you . . . YES! When you understand how to use incense and how to “listen” to it, you can bring new dimensions to your Aromatherapy practice. My friend Eric, owner of the Northwest School of Aromatic Medicine, can answer the first 2 questions and so much more!

The “Listening to Incense” Home Study Course is offered by the Northwest School of Aromatic Medicine. It can teach you how to use incense in traditional and modern ways, so you can bring nuance and wisdom to your Aromatherapy practice. You’ll have the opportunity to experience for yourself why so many people love incense, and how it can put us in touch with your own roots, your own wisdom, and your ability to connect with the world in meaningful ways. Learn more about the course!

Beginner's Guide to Essential Oils

Andrea Butje is an internationally-recognized Aromatherapist who has changed the educational paradigm through her inspired approach to teaching essential oils and Aromatherapy Certification. Check out her book, The Heart of Aromatherapy, at Aromatics International!

Topics: handmade incense, organic incense, Recipes and Blends, how to make incense, natural incense

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