Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Making Combustible Incense

Basic Materials Needed:

*powdered wood (sandalwood, red sandalwood, cedar, etc.)
*benzoin sumatra resin
*orris root
*gum tragacanth (gum arabic can be substituted, but about twice as much arabic as tragacanth will be needed and drying time will be longer)
*salt petre/potassiun nitrate
*water, spring or distilled
*fragrant material (herbs and/or oils, resins not recommended)
*two bowls, one for water and one for mixing
*a stirring implement
*mortar and pestle, coffee mill or grain mill (for grinding ingredients to a fine powder)
*measuring spoons
*small kitchen scale
*wood or bamboo sticks (for stick incense)


Step 1
Grind ingredients (if not already powdered) into as fine a powder as possible.

Step 2
Mix together base ingredients.

6 parts wood
2 parts benzoin sumatra
1 part orris root

Add 3-5 parts of fragrant herb incense scent mixture you want to use (prepared from recipe of choice) to the base.

Step 3
Add gum tragacanth to the base mixture. You will want between 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon of tragacanth per 2 teaspoons of incense mixture.

Step 4
Weigh incense mixture on the scale. Measure out 10% by weight of potassium nitrate. An approximation:

One Tablespoon of potassium nitrate powder weighs about 20 grams
1/2 Tablespoon of potassium nitrate weighs about 10 grams
One Teaspoon of potassium nitrate weighs a little more than 6 1/2 grams
1/2 Teaspoon of potassium nitrate weighs a little more than 3 1/4 grams
1/4 teaspoon of potassium nitrate weighs a little more than 1 1/2 grams
1/8 teaspoon of potassium nitrate weighs a little more than 3/4 grams
So, if you have 20 grams of base, set aside 2 grams of potassium nitrate; if you have 10 grams use 1 gram, etc.

Step 5
Take 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons of water for every 3 teaspoons of incense mixture and place water in a bowl. Disolve the potassium nitrate in the water completely.

Step 6* (cones)
Add the water and potassium nitrate solution to dry ingredients. Add any oils you plan to use at this time. 5-10 drops, combined, should be more than enough. Mix the ingredients into a sticky dough (it is best to do this with your hands).

Step 7 (cones)
To make cones, simply take small potions of the incense dough and shape it -- take care that you do not make the cones too thick. Be sure to press the bottom of each cone down onto a flat surface to ensure it will stand.

Step 6* (sticks)
To make stick incense, instead of adding your solution to the dry ingredients, add any oils (5-10 drops combined) to dry ingredients and mix well.

Step 7 (sticks)
Take your sticks and dip them, one at a time, into the water solution and then roll them in the dry ingredients so that the incense adheres to the stick. Set each stick aside to dry for 5-10 minutes (stand them upright by sticking in a ball of clay), then repeat the procedure until the stick achieve the desired thickness.

Step 8
Allow incense to dry. Sticks will most likely dry overnight, but may need to dry longer. Cones will take at least overnight, 24 hours or so is recommended. If after 24 hours they are not dry, something went wrong. You can easily tell when sticks are dry... generally touching them will tell you. Cones however, may be dry on the outside and still be wet inside. To tell if a cone is dry, squeeze the largest end lightly in your fingers. If it holds its shape, it should be dry. It the incense crumbles, you can test to see if it is dry and you will know that next time you want to add more Gum Tragacanth to your mixture.

Recipe/Procedure Source: Buddhamind

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