What’s That Smell?

I decided to make incense.  Sort of like how I woke up one morning and decided to make paper, I decided to go around the house and pick yummy smelling things like rosemary, lemon balm, cedar, and lavender flowers and grind them up into incense.

Fresh ingredients: rosemary, lemon balm, cedar, lavender flowers

It wasn’t entirely spontaneous, I had been looking up websites for two days how to do it.   That’s not to say I exactly *followed* most of the instructions, but I did look them up.  The most helpful site (and the one I actually followed closest) was this one, but mostly I just got my mortar and pestle (I’ve always, always wanted a green marble mortar and pestle set, and I finally found one at the thrift store!  And since I don’t know what ever may have been ground it in before, I’ll use it for apothecary endeavors!)

 

Green marble mortar and pestle with dried hibiscus flowers

 

I’m making non-combustible incense (sometimes referred to as incense of the ancients) which means it isn’t shaped into sticks or cones, you can’t just light it and have it smoke.  It’s the pulverized blending of various woods and herbs and left in a semi-powdered form so it must be added to something to make it burn.  You can do this in a variety of ways, either get some incense charcoal disks, put it in an incense warmer, or sprinkle it into a fire (though the fire’s own scent will likely overpower any small amount or mild fragrance so it would take a very strong scent or a lot of it to get this method to work.)

From my beading days, I still have a handful of little sealable bags, so I can store my newly pounded, ground, pounded, ground, pounded and ground herbs, flowers, and woods.  And believe me, it takes a lot of pounding and grinding, especially the cedar bark, to get to a mostly powdered final product.  I may be developing some blisters on my hands, and no doubt my shoulder will remind me of this tomorrow.

Most of the instructions say to blend your ingredients and then wait at least two weeks before burning it for best results, so I won’t – alas – get to test the fruits of my labors for a few more weeks.

Fresh pulverized lavender flowers

 

Along with the fresh ingredients I had around the house, I also have a host of already dried herbs – such as white sage, chamomile, and green tea – or other fresh ingredients – like clover or dandelion – that I’d like to try as well.  But that will have to wait.  My hands are a little raw and I want to heal before I go pounding and grinding and pounding and grinding again.

Lavender, hibiscus, cedar, and rosemary, ready to be stored, tagged with the contents and date of bagging for future reference.

I’ll have to experiment quite a bit between the raw smells and the burning scents they produce, as they aren’t always exactly similar.  I’ll also have to do some experiments with which burn well together, and what ratios I should use, though I suppose if I were smart I’d follow the already tried-and-true recipes found on the internet.  But I like finding these things out for myself!  Besides, there’s too many things I want to try that I don’t think anyone has before.

Or they did try and it failed miserably, which is why you don’t find things like green tea and hibiscus incense.  But I’m going to make it anyway!  I can’t wait!  I hope it turns out okay…

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7 thoughts on “What’s That Smell?

  1. Of course you should grounding try every herb and plant, because it’s fun! 🙂 And you never know what might work out well. Maybe you will come up with something totally fabulous!
    I dream about white mortar and pestle. 🙂 I’ll have to start searching for it.

    • I’ll probably try grinding and burning everything in my herb cupboard, at the very least. And I even managed to pound cedar bark into dust, so I’ll work up my mortar muscles! 😀

  2. I’ve made a lot of this kind of incense in my shop! I usually do a burn test on one ingredient at a time and I’m prepared to open the front and back door to let the unfortunate ones blow away. 🙂 Also, if it smells good just ground, call it potpourri. If it smells yum burned, great. If it doesn’t with either of those try a tincture or an infusion or soak it in oil and then warm it. Lotsa fun ways to try ’em! …and let me know what you’re finding out. I’ll trade info. 🙂

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