Updated: Oct 25, 2019
I have been experimenting with making incense for many years now and by no means am I an expert, but it is something I highly enjoy doing. Most recipes I have are for loose incense mixtures which must be burned on charcoals, making it more difficult to burn in a pinch. Unless you are using a natural bamboo charcoal, many of the commercial brands have harmful materials in them. I recently was informed of the dangers of saltpeter, which is the ingredient in most of today’s charcoals on the market sold as sodium nitrate or potassium nitrate. This prompted me to start researching making combustible incense mixtures where I found a method using Makko which is a natural combustible.
Makko is derived from the bark of a tree native to Asia, known as the tabu-no-ki tree. When added to loose incense mixtures with a small amount of distilled water, makko allows for the forming of incense cones. Because it is water soluble, the amount of makko to add to a mixture depends on the humidity in your area and the amount of resins and woods in the recipe. You'll have to experiment with this yourself to see what works with your particular mixture and climate. I suggest you record the exact measurements of makko added to the recipes so you can recreate it later.
Start by pulverizing your incense blend of ingredients into the finest powder possible. This must be done in order for the cones to burn evenly. Let this sit overnight in a mixing bowl.
You are then ready to add the makko and form the mixture into cones. Since there are resins in this recipe then you may need anywhere from 20% to 80% of makko in your mixture.
Add a small amount of distilled water and mix with your hands, you want the mixture to be pliable and hold form as you mold it. Knead the mixture very well and shape into cones.
Let the cones dry on waxed paper. You can tell cones are dry by turning them upside down and seeing if the color is consistent from the middle to the outer edge. When dry, light a cone and see how it burns. This way of making cone incense is great since you can grind up any cones that don't burn right and adjust the makko content. If it doesn't burn steadily, then you need to increase the amount of makko to the mixture. If you think it burns too fast, then decrease the makko content by adding your loose incense mixture.
Store your cones in an earthenware/glass jar away from heat and light.
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