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Grocery Store Incense Making

This post was written by Anna
on March 13, 2012 | Comments (9)

Readers, please enjoy this guest blog post by Carl F. Neal, author of Incense Magick.

Fifteen years ago when I first began to make natural incense, some of the ingredients were very difficult to locate. In 2012, life is a lot easier for natural incense makers. While we have always been able to get certain aromatics at the grocery store, I was surprised when I recently toured my favorite grocery store’s bulk food section and discovered everything you need to make quite a variety of natural incense.

Binders (the “glue” that holds incense sticks and cones together) have always been the most difficult ingredient to find, but no more! Although guar gum has long been available at some health food stores, it is now found in many more mainstream stores as well. Likewise, thanks to a growing awareness of wheat gluten allergies/sensitivities, xanthum gum is also much easier to find in many grocery stores. You might find these ingredients in the bulk foods section, “specialty foods” (a section that I am very familiar with since going gluten-free six months ago), or the baking section.

Bases (the part of natural incense that provides the heat and helps to smooth out burning) are more limited in the grocery store, but in most bulk herb sections I can find white willow bark, which can be a useful base. Some stores carry even more materials that can be used as a base. For more details on what constitutes a good base you may want to consult a good incense making book.

Aromatics have always been plentiful in grocery stores. Cinnamon, basil, oregano, cardamom, bay leaf, and many more are available in almost any grocery store. I would take care about buying very inexpensive herbs unless you carefully read the label; many culinary herbs are adulterated with fillers. Cinnamon, for example, is sometimes combined with crushed nutshells. You want to limit yourself to pure herbs, but there is a huge variety of acceptable aromatics for sale in nearly every grocery store in America.

In years past I often joked about making incense from grocery store ingredients, but it is no longer a joke! Not every store may carry everything I’ve listed here, but the odds are getting better and better than any randomly selected grocery store may be an incense ingredient warehouse.

Here is an easy recipe that uses ingredients I found this weekend at my favorite grocery store:
White Willow Bark (or other wood powders): 1Tbsp
Guar gum (or xanthum gum or tragacanth): 1/8 tsp
Cinnamon : 1/2 tsp

Just combine these powdered ingredients and then stir in a small amount of water (start with 1 tsp). Knead the mixture completely. If, after kneading, the mixture won’t hold together, add a few drops of water and knead some more. Once the entire mixture can be gathered into a single ball, knead and roll it in your hands until it is one solid ball that has no cracks and is one uniform color. Break off ¼ tsp pieces and roll into a cone or a stick. Let them dry for a few days and enjoy! That same formula will work well with many aromatics. For more recipes and information you can check out my first book, Incense: Crafting and Use of Magical Scents, or visit my website: www.incensebooks.com.

Our thanks to Carl for his guest post! For more from Carl F. Neal, read his article “The Economics and Politics of Incense .”

Reader Comments

Written By mokshagarbatti
on April 14th, 2014 @ 1:11 am

It is believed that the smoke that is emitted by the incense sticks during its burning carries the prayers to God. There are a number of incense sticks exporters that offer the best incense sticks across the globe.

Written By mokshagarbatti
on April 29th, 2014 @ 6:33 am

Incense sticks are known to be the incredible option during worship and other religious activities. There are a number of incense sticks manufacturer that manufacture supreme quality of incense sticks across the globe.

Written By mokshagarbatti
on May 16th, 2014 @ 2:51 am

Incense sticks have been the prime choice of people for various religious activities. The pleasant fragrance emitted by the incense sticks are in use since the ancient times.

Written By Rishi Shah
on June 10th, 2014 @ 12:11 am

Amazing post, After getting through your blog I got some new information about Incense. And I agree with you that some of the ingredients were very difficult to locate. Incense sticks are useful to worship the god by worshippers at temples as well as in homes. Thanks for sharing such a nice and informative post.

Written By Hetal
on July 8th, 2014 @ 4:09 am

Nice post on natural incense…

Written By nox_lumen
on October 3rd, 2014 @ 11:38 pm

I find cinnamon, nut shells or no, works well as a base.

My test bash was 1 tlbsp cinnamon, 1/2 teasp dragons blood resin, 1 drop candy flavoring oil in almond with enough water to make paste. It didn’t shape well and some cracked in the drying, but the ones that didn’t burn perfectly and smell wonderful.

They also dried over night.

Written By nox_lumen
on October 4th, 2014 @ 10:18 am

Tested ground sage and psyillium seed husk(from laxative section if not in the bulk department, but watch your ingredients). 1/8th teaspoon psyllium to 2 teaspoons sage.

It needed time for the moisture to balance through the dough in order for it to stop acting like a dry pastry dough, but then it was pliable enough to make had rolled sticks almost as thin as commercial incense. Near the end of my rolling I needed a bit more water, but I was able to shape strings of it into a leaf that held together. 1 inch worth burns evenly though a bit fast and is very potent in fragrance, so I plan to cut the sage back and balance with something the burns slower.

Written By Michele
on September 13th, 2016 @ 9:48 pm

Where can you buy the wood base for incense


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