I have been getting into incense lately, and I’ve always been into good smells such as candles and fancy soaps and such. The problem is, these things can be spendy!
I recently learned how easy it is to make my own incense. It’s not only easy, it’s not as messy as most crafty bath, body, and similar crafts. Here’s how I do it, and I have already been able to sell some after just my first effort. They make lovely and unexpected gifts.
Blank sticks are available at a number of incense and candle shops online, as well as Amazon and eBay. It pays to shop around, however, as the prices vary like a theme park roller coaster. When you order your blank sticks, also known as punks or joss sticks, have a look at the essential or fragrance oils. Again, prices vary crazily, so beware.
Essential oils are far more expensive than your average fragrance oil or burner oil, but they do provide the purest scent. Many fragrance oils are of very good quality, so it’s a personal choice for you unless you desire the essential oils’ therapeutic benefits. I have used both already, and I am pleased with all of my results so far. Just keep in mind, if you are shopping offline, to sniff each sample if you can before you buy, as it won’t be pleasant to burn if it’s not pleasant in the bottle.
Pick up some denatured alcohol. You can also use vodka if you already have some, but for me, since alcohol is so much cheaper, it’s a no-brainer. This will “cut,” or thin out the oil, which will be too smoky (and more expensive to use) if you don’t perform this step. Mix the oil and the alcohol using a “part” method, such as 1 part oil and 2 parts alcohol. If you like a stronger scent, mix it 1:1, but it will use more of your oil. I am finding a 1:2 ratio also works well. Then stir or shake until the oil and alcohol are completely mixed. There is a solvent called DPG, for dipropylene glycol, which sounds like something from the chemical factory but is quite safe, that you can also use to cut the oil, but it’s more expensive and not readily available in our area in stores.
Place some punks in a tray. I’m using an olive tray and a Rubbermaid drawer organizer without mesh sides. Pour your prepared scent oil over the charcoal portion of the punks and roll them in the tray to ensure even coverage. Then, the hard part: waiting.
Allow the sticks to soak in the oil for 24-48 hours. Your patience with be rewarded! Periodically roll the sticks in the oil as they stand. Once this time is up, place them upright in a vase or a tall glass to dry. This could be the most important step, and it again involves your patience. Allow to dry for another 24 or more hours. I have found 48 hours works best for me in my current rainy spring climate. If you don’t allow them to dry completely, they won’t light well or burn well, and they won’t have the scent you are looking for. Be Patient!
Once the sticks are completely dry, place the bamboo end in a holder or some sand and light ‘er up. When the tip glows a nice red, blow out the flame, sit back, and enjoy your efforts. Not only will you have the scent you want, not someone else’s version of what you should like, but it will be far, far, far thriftier than if you buy your incense at the store.
Incense is out of the stoner’s closet and into the aromatherapy mainstream. With the savings and ease of making it yourself, give it a try. You’ll be surprised and pleased with your results. Who knows? You might discover a new revenue stream.
Thrifty Tip of the Day: Soap Oils can also be used for your fragrance, and they tend to be even cheaper than fragrance oils. Their scent isn’t as true, but if you like what you are smelling, go for it.