How to Make Incense: A Comprehensive Guide

how to make incense

How to make incense?

Burning incense at home or temple is an ancient practice believed to bring in a lot of positive energies. Natural incense can ward off harmful insects and pests and keep our living space clean and fresh. Besides, incense sticks, cones, and powders are burned to spread relaxing fragrances inside our room and relieve ourselves from stress and anxiety.

While flowers and aromatic candles can create an amorous environment in your comfort space, other incense materials, like lemongrass, can improve concentration and attract energy. The best part is that you can still have these pleasant and aromatic experiences with natural and personalized homemade incense.

Wait, so I can make incense at home?

Yes, you heard that right! You can make incense at home using a few ingredients and a simple formula. Incense refers to any materials made from plant extracts, such as flowers and herbs, which are burned to create an aromatic ambiance and boost positivity. Besides, incense making is a therapeutic and meditative process that you will enjoy.

Things to Keep in Mind Before Making Incense

Before getting into the recipes for making incense at home, here are a few factors to consider.

⦁ Determine which type of incense you are willing to make.

⦁ Identify the fragrance you wish to create for your home.

⦁ Determine the way you want to burn your incense.

⦁ Gather all the required tools and raw materials for making the incense.

⦁ Keep all the necessary ingredients handy.

⦁ Pulverize the ingredients, such as crushing them into powder. You can directly use powders, too, such as powders of flowers or herbs.

Types of Incense You Can Make

There are two main kinds of incense - combustible and non-combustible.

Combustible Incense: This is applicable while making incense sticks or cones. In this type, you should add a combustible material and a binding substance to the incense mixture. Next, you light one end of the stick or cone and fan out the flame. The incense will automatically burn by itself.

Place it on a stand and give it some time to burn out. Different incense sticks or cones have different burning times, depending on their size, materials used, and climatic conditions.

Non-combustible Incense: This ancient form of incense is available as loose incense powder. It is available in a raw mixture of all the ingredients after mixing and grinding. Apart from the powder format, non-combustible incense is also available as incense pellets, which are loose incense containing ingredients like raisins, soft resins, dried fruits, balsams, and honey. These ingredients are all mixed together and turned into pea-sized pellets.

Non-combustible incense is heated using makko or charcoal. Although this type of incense takes a few additional steps and burning vessels, the making process is the easiest.

What is the Right Method of Heating Your Incense?

If you are making incense sticks or cones, burning them is straightforward - you just need to light one end and fan out the flame. Place it on a stand and let it burn slowly on its own. Soon, the room will be filled with fragrance - just sit back and enjoy the aromatic ambiance. However, in some cultures, blowing out the flame is considered “disrespectful”. In that case, you can let the flame die out on its own, which will happen in a few seconds.

In contrast, if you are burning incense pellets or loose incense powder, you will need charcoal or Makko to start the flame by applying heat to the mixtures. Furthermore, if you are burning your incense outdoors, you can place loose incense powder, incense pellets, or the individual ingredients directly in a small campfire. Alternatively, you can put the incense on a hot rock near the rim of the glowing campfire. The best is to burn the incense when there is no flame, but only some ignited coals are left.

Picking the Right Tools for the Job

Here are the vital tools you will need to make incense at home:

⦁ An incense burner, which is filled with sand or ash

⦁ Use Makko powder or bamboo charcoal while making incense sticks or cones. You will also need this to burn the loose incense.

⦁ Tongs or tweezers to hold the charcoal while igniting it

⦁ Natural incense ingredients, including woods, flowers, herbs, resins

⦁ Coffee grinder or mortar and pestle to grind the ingredients into powder (omit this tool if you are directly working with powdered ingredients). But we recommend pulverizing your ingredients into powder, as it ensures the freshness of the substances you are using.

⦁ Candle or lighter

⦁ Fragrant hydrosols or distilled water, if you are making sticks or cones

⦁ Food processor (if required)

⦁ Mica (only if you are using mica to burn your incense)

⦁ Wax paper or drying cloth for drying out some wet recipes

⦁ Gram scale or measuring spoons/cups because you will need specific amounts of ingredients to make the perfect incense mixture

⦁ 2 food-grade plastic bags or mixing bowls to keep the pulverized materials in place until the final mixing

⦁ Stirring spoon

⦁ Notebook to write down different incense recipes

Key Incense Ingredients

The key to making a highly effective and aromatic incense mixture is to use only premium-quality natural materials. For instance, start assembling the best-in-class spices and wood. Never hesitate to experiment with various substances to create new fragrances. You will fall in love with the process.

To create a solid base for your incense, add at least one kind of wood or resin to your mixture. The best way to explore different natural ingredients is to visit your local nurseries, incense stores, herb shops, and homemade perfume stores to unleash some secret ingredients. There are endless treasures on our planet, and we can hardly ever explore all of them.

Here are some key incense ingredients you can experiment with in different compositions.

  • Dried fruits: Dried fruits such as citrus peels or berries add a sweet and fruity aroma to incense blends. They infuse the air with a refreshing scent, promoting a sense of vitality and rejuvenation.

  • Honey: Honey possesses natural sweetness and stickiness, serving as a binding agent in incense pellets. Its warm and comforting fragrance adds depth to incense blends, fostering a cozy and inviting atmosphere.

  • Wine: Wine offers a unique addition to incense blends, infusing them with depth and complexity. When used sparingly, wine can enhance the fragrance profile with subtle notes of fruitiness and richness. It adds a touch of sophistication to incense recipes and contributes to a multi-dimensional olfactory experience. Additionally, the ritualistic use of wine in incense making can symbolize celebration, abundance, and spiritual communion.
  • Fragrant hydrosols: Hydrosols, also known as floral waters, are aromatic byproducts of the steam distillation process used to extract essential oils. They offer delicate floral scents and subtle therapeutic properties, promoting emotional balance and relaxation.

  • Herbs and spices: Herbs and spices like cinnamon, ginger, and lavender contribute rich aromas and therapeutic benefits to incense blends. Cinnamon and ginger impart warmth and stimulation, while lavender offers relaxation and stress relief.

  • Woods: Woods such as agarwood, sandalwood, and cedar exude earthy and woody fragrances with grounding and calming effects. They enhance spiritual practices and meditation sessions, fostering a deeper connection with nature and inner peace.

  • Resins: Resins like myrrh, frankincense, and amber emit rich and complex scents with purifying and uplifting properties. They have been used for centuries in spiritual ceremonies and rituals to cleanse spaces and elevate consciousness.

Effective Ways to Make Incense

Now that you are ready with these main requirements, let’s learn how to make incense at home. Here are the best ways to make loose incense, incense pellets, and incense sticks or cones:

Making Loose Incense

Start with pulverizing your materials if you are not using powdered ingredients. Use a coffee grinder or the traditional mortar and pestle to grind your raw ingredients. Avoid using electric coffee grinders, though, as they generate a lot of heat, which may cause the loss of some vital elements in your materials. Besides, resins tend to damage the blades of grinders, too.

Pro tip: Freeze your resins for around 15 minutes before pulverizing. It will smoothen the grinding process.

While resins can be ground best with mortar and pestle, woods, on the other hand, are hard to pulverize with this conventional kitchen tool. You can use a hand coffee grinder to extract wood powder from the bark. If you are a beginner, simply start using readily available powdered wood.

We recommend you follow a proper pulverizing order. Start by grinding the wood first and gradually move towards pulverizing herbs and spices. You can grind the resins at the end since they tend to make the grinder or mortar and pestle messy. After grinding, weigh all the ingredients and separate the dry ingredients from the resins by storing them in two different bowls.

Now, mix all your dry materials first: wood and herbs. Finally, thoroughly blend all your dry and wet ingredients and grind them one last time in the mortar and pestle. You will already start feeling the beautiful aroma when the natural materials are blended. After mixing all the substances well, light it using charcoal, and enjoy the therapeutic ambiance.

Making incense Pellets

You can easily make incense pellets from loose incense. After creating loose incense, you can use a binding substance to the final mixture. It will help the pellets retain their shape. Besides, pellets are more convenient to use, and add more beauty to your incense.

Japanese often use labdanum in their incense recipes to make pellets. You can add labdanum or other resins to make the pellets more pliable. Knead your pellets well and dry them in a ceramic jar for around 2 to 3 weeks. You can also add honey and dried fruits to incense pellets to enhance aroma. To add more fragrances, soak the dried fruits in heavy red wine overnight, drain them, and grind them before adding to your loose incense.

You should turn the pellets during their drying time to ensure proper drying on both sides. You can store these pellets in the ceramic jar for up to a year before use. It will enhance their efficiency. Burn incense pellets with charcoal or place them on makko.

Making Incense Sticks or Cones

After pulverizing and making a fine powder of all your natural ingredients, add a binding agent and a combustible material to the mixture. Some people even add charcoal to the final mixture for better combustion. Let the loose incense mixture sit overnight for a stronger blend.

Next, slowly add water to make the mixture pliable. Take small amounts and make the required shape by rolling it in your palm. The best way is to roll the paste thinly into a paper roll while making sticks. You can use hollow bamboo sticks, too, for making incense sticks. And if you make cones, you can form a conical shape by hand or use molds for a perfect shape.

Let your sticks or cones dry for a few weeks. The drying time will depend on climatic conditions. For testing, burn one or two of these sticks or cones. In this step, you will know what ingredients you might need to adjust to make the products perfect.


You will surely love the entire process of making your own incense from scratch. Light up your creative outcome and enjoy the aromatic environment. You deserve some self-pampering and relaxation after all the hard work.


Good luck!


incense burner