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Fragrance in the Home

As long as man has prayed to his gods, fragrant smoke has risen to the heavens. Sweet herbs have been used as offerings to the Egyptian sun God, Ra, and temples, palaces, churches and cathedrals have used incense to please the deities and purify the air.

Today we use incense in our homes, far less with religion in mind than the pleasure that is created through the aroma of the fragrant smoke rising in the air.

Creating your own incense is really quite easy once you decide which type you want to make. For our purposes, we will discuss some of the more popular methods such as dough incense and loose incense.

Loose incense is the least complicated type of incense to make and is generally used a teaspoonful at a time, either in an incense dish or thrown on top of a smouldering fire. Here is a sample recipe to get you started:

75 grams / 3 ounces powdered frankincense
50 grams / 2 ounces powdered orris root
25 grams / 1 ounce powdered cloves
25 grams / 1 ounce sandalwood shavings
A few drops of your favorite essential oil

Mix all of the dry ingredients together and sprinkle the essential oil on top. Store the mixture in a cool, dark place for 8 to 10 weeks at which time the aroma will have matured.

Another type of incense that is relatively easy to make is dough incense. However, it requires a blender, bowls, a wooden spoon for mixing, and a little experimentation! Here is a recipe that doesn't require a specific amount of each ingredient. Just mix them all together with the goal of making a smooth paste which can then be formed into shapes (such as cones).

  • sweet smelling dried herbs or spices
  • half the amount of the above herbs or spices in scented wood bark shavings
  • tragacanth powder
  • potassium nitrate (saltpeter)
  • water
  • food coloring (optional)

First, reduce to a powder and combine, the dried herbs and/or spices with the dried scented bark. Then mix the potassium nitrate with a little bit of water. Add tragacanth powder and mix into a smooth paste, adding more water if needed. Continue to add dried herbs/spices, water and tragacanth powder as required to make the amount of dough desired. If the scent is not strong enough, a few drops of essential oil may be added. If desired a few drops of food coloring may also be added to color the mixture. This dough can then be shaped into cones, cylinders and coils or can be rolled onto bamboo skewers (leaving the end portion bare so that it can be inserted into an incense holder).

Whichever shape you choose, let the dough incense dry thoroughly and store the incense in an airtight tin to preserve the aroma.

As you can see, with a little effort and creative experimentation, incense is a great way to invigorate the senses and fragrance your surroundings!


Relevant Links:
Article - Joy of Harvest


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