Essence of the Ages imports incense from Japan, India, Bhutan, Korean, Tibet, and Nepal. Only the finest incense!


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**This article is from Scents-of-Earth™
© Copyright 2001

Making Incense Cones and Sticks

Pulverizing your ingredients into a very, very fine powder is one of the keys to making cones or sticks that will burn properly. Follow the directions on the previous page for mixing ingredients as loose incense but grind everything to an ultra fine powder.

There are many ways to make cones and sticks, some people use gum arabic or tragacanth to bind their sticks or cones. They mix this with charcoal or saltpeter to gain combustion. As stated in our "styles of burning" section above, we recommend against the use of saltpeter or charcoals that contain saltpeter because it is a toxic substance.

We're sure there are a myriad of other ways to form sticks and cones. We'll share our own method with you, which is to use makko (a.k.a. tabu) to form incense cones and sticks. Our makko is made from the bark of the tabu-no-ki tree, which grows in Asia and is a natural combustible material that is also water soluble. When added to loose incense mixtures with a small amount of distilled water or hydrosol, makko allows for the forming of incense cones or sticks. Because it is water soluble, the exact amount of makko to add to a mixture depends on the humidity of your environment and the amount of resins and woods in your mixture.

First we recommend letting your "loose incense mixture" sit at least overnight to allow the ingredients to "blend" together. Once aged a day or more you are then ready to add your makko and form the incense into whatever shapes you desire.

We recommend testing a small amount of your mixture first. You'll need a mixing bowl, your hands and either distilled water or a fragrant hydrosol and some wax paper. If you have a mixture with no resins in it, then you will most likely need to add only between 10 - 25% of makko to your mixture. (i.e. If you use 4 tablespoons of loose mixture, try adding 1/2 - 1 tablespoon of makko). If you have resins in your mixture then you may need 25 - 80% makko in your mixture. You'll have to play with this yourself to see what works with your particular mixture and in your particular climate. We highly recommend you record in a notebook the exact measurements of your recipes so you can recreate the ones that come our perfectly and adjust those that don't.

Very slowly... add a little water and mix with your hands, you want the mixture to become gummy and pliable yet still hold form as you mold it. Using your hands, knead the mixture very, very well then form it into cones or sticks. Cones are relatively easy to form. To make sticks, use a piece of wax paper on a flat surface and roll the mixture into sticks with your hands. You may also wish to obtain blank bamboo sticks that have absolutely no additives and roll your mixture onto the sticks. Allow your cones or sticks to dry at least a couple of weeks - again this depends on climate. You want to keep them away from sunlight and heat during this time. Sticks will dry faster than cones. Cones you can tell are dry by turning them upside down and looking to see if there is any color difference in the center of the bottom compared to the outer edges. Once dry, light one of your creations and see how it burns and smells. 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. A great thing about this method is you can grind up any cones or sticks that didn't come out right and adjust the makko content by adding more makko or more loose incense mixture to them, add a little water and begin again.

Incense Recipes

Here's a list of recipes to get you stared. Have fun experimenting and enjoying new mixtures.

1 part sandalwood
1/2 part cassia
1/2 part clove

4 parts juniper tips
2 parts white sage
2 parts sweet grass

1 part storax
1 part frankincense
1 part cassia
1 part sandalwood

2 parts sandalwood
1 part frankincense
1 part mastic
1 part lemongrass

2 parts frankincense
1 part myrrh
1 part cedar
1/4 part pinion pine

2 parts frankincense
1 part myrrh
1 part mastic
1/2 part coriander

2 part sandalwood
1 part galangal
1 part myrrh
1/2 part cinnamon
1/2 part borneol

3 parts gold copal
1 part dark copal
1 part myrrh
1 part balsam of tolu
1/2 part vanilla

2 parts cedar
1 part vetiver
1 part lavender flowers
1/2 part benzoin
handful of dried rose petals

2 parts sandalwood
1 part benzoin
1 part star anise
1 part cassia
1/2 part rose mallow seeds

2 parts sandalwood
1 part mastic
1 part myrrh
1 part cinnamon bark
1 part spikenard
handful of dried rose petals

2 parts sandalwood
1 part benzoin
1 part star anise
1 part cassia
1/2 part rose mallow seeds
2 parts frankincense
1 part sandalwood
1 part aloeswood
1 part clove
1 part cinnamon

1 - 2 - 3 - 4

Return to Woods, Herbs and Resins

**Special thanks to Mark Ambrose for allowing Essence of the Ages to use this article he wrote for his own site, Scents of Earth™. Mark is an expert in woods and resins. Please visit his site at

© Copyright 2001 All rights reserved.

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Last updated: October 17, 2017
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