How I create my incenses (and other goodies)
So here’s the thing. I take my incense-making very seriously. I don’t just throw a bunch of stuff together and call it good. It takes me a while to develop a good recipe, and here’s why…
Step 1: Research. I spend hours poring through books and notes and websites and spreadsheets, trying to find ingredients suitable for my purposes. I don’t take this step lightly, and I try to find several sources who agree on the specific properties I’m searching for. If one website says that X is good for Y, for example, and that ingredient piques my curiosity for the blend I’m working on, I search to see if other sources agree or if I can find some historical usage that would support that property.
Then I make a list of things that may work in this particular blend.
Step 2: Inspiration. This is when I try to find that added ingredient or ingredients that will take the blend from something nice to something truly unique. This is where the magick happens. This is where I get to play mad scientist and consider using fruits, vegetables, grains, or other things that will take the blend over the top.
Step 3: Gathering. This also requires more research as I spent a lot of time trying to find not only the best sources for my ingredients, but also the most ethical and sustainable. There are a lot of ingredients (such as sandalwood and frankincense) where sustainability is a real concern. How can a blend be truly magickal if it’s bad for the earth or the plants that it came from?
I also enjoy dragging Bear out into nature whenever possible to wildcraft local herbs and resins. I always ask the permission of the plant I’m collecting from, and leave an offering in return.
Step 4: Testing. I may have what I think is the perfect blend in my mind, but this step can change everything, sending me back a few steps. For example, did you know that jasmine smells terrible when burned? Its magickal properties are very specific and desirable, but who wants an incense that smells musty and burny? This is where I test each ingredient slowly and then begin to blend them, taking careful notes the entire time.
Step 5: Finalizing. This is where I may throw in another drop of essential oil, or a little more of an ingredient that seems to blend into the background. I like to let the incense sit for a week or more before this step to let everything come together. Most of the time, the whole is more than the sum of its parts, but sometimes it needs a bit of tweaking at the very end.
Step 6: Storage. I usually store my incense for my use in whatever jar I have handy, as long as it’s airtight and glass. However, packaging has been a concern for the incense I intend to sell. Buying small jars (even wholesale) is expensive, most of the time $1 or more per jar. However, with all the care I put into making my incense, I would never feel OK about just packaging it in a cheap plastic bag with a boring label. So this is something I’m working on, and will continue to refine my packaging until I find something I love that will keep the incense beautiful and fresh for as long as possible.
This is very similar to the procedure I use for making oil blends, candles, bath salts, mojo bags, and anything else that takes my fancy. I’ve been making magickal tools for over 20 years now, and I’ve learned a lot about what NOT to do as well as the things that work. I hope you get a chance to enjoy one of my blends sometime! 🙂