I have been making incense for many years now, 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. After realizing the dangers using saltpeter (which is an ingredient in most of today’s charcoals on the market sold as sodium nitrate or potassium nitrate) I was prompted 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 liquid, 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. I use both wood and resin in my mixtures so I have found a 50/50 ratio works well. This whole process is kind like baking cookies to me.
WHAT YOU WILL NEED
Loose Incense Mixture of your own Creation
Mixing Bowls (keep a set specifically for incense and resins)
Coffee Grinders (keep a set specifically for herbs and resins)
Mortar and Pestle (if you don't have grinders)
Incense Cone Mold
Tinctures (I like using resin tinctures in my incense)
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. I use a set of coffee grinders to create the finest powder possible, one I use for non poisonous herbs and the other for resins.
You are then ready to add the Makko and form the mixture into cones. If you are using resins in your loose incense recipe then you may need anywhere from 20% to 80% of Makko in your mixture, but as mentioned earlier I have had good luck with a 50/50 ratio.
Add a small amount of distilled water
(you can also add any tinctures or essential oils for liquid).
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.
If you are using a mold them you can just push a small amount into each form.
Let the cones dry on waxed paper or in the form. 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.
Now you and your Gods, Spirits etc. get to enjoy the smells of your labor. Store your cones in an earthenware/glass jar away from heat and light.
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