Incense 101

Light the incense! You have to burn to be fragrant.


Incense making is at its core a simple endeavour: mix powders together with water to make a paste, form into cone shapes, allow to dry and then burn.

It’s more of an art than that. I’ve tried it. And I have a whole box of stupid ones that I’ve messed up to prove that, though a simple process in theory, it requires and deserves time.

I am happy to share on this platform all that I learn from the successes and the failures. I’ve taken one short course and hope to soon get certified from The Northwest School of Aromatic Medicine. Please join me on this really cool path to deepening the modalities of healing.

Things to think about when making incense:


Intention- Why is the incense being made, for what purpose?

  • Medicinal
  • Aromatic
  • Spiritual/sacred ritual
  • Combination

Research what herb, resins or woods would meet the criteria of your intentions for your incense:

  • medicinal herbal actions
  • aromatic healing actions
  • availability
  • List of healing action of herbs in essential oil form
  • Incense 201 will contain recipes and more healing actions of powdered herbs, resins and woods

Choose your ingredients. Incense is made up of four components:

  • Powdered base (typically a wood)
  • Powdered aromatic (usually an herb containing volatile oils or a resin)
  • Binding agent (a gum or demulcent herb)
  • distilled water or hydrosol

Let’s get started:

Incense helps in many ways:

  • clearing, cleansing space
  • lifting mood, expelling stress
  • creativity and focus
  • dreams and visions
  • aiding sleep
  • cleansing thoughts
  • sanctification
  • restores balance
  • combats depression and exhaustion
  • antibacterial
  • improves respiration and circulation

What you need:

Powdered Bases

  • Cedar wood– antifungal, insecticidal, helps with sleep, anti-anxiety, antispasmodic
  • Sandalwood– harmonizing, stress relief, combats fear, anxiety, antibacterial
  • Aloeswood– stimulant, sacred/ceremonial, calms nervous system, balances, aphrodesiacanti-spasmodic
  • Sweet grass– sacred, ceremonial, purifying, attracts positive energy, cleansing
  • Patchouli– antidepressant, aphrodesiac, promotes confidence, balancing, calms anxious mind
  • Palo santo– pain releif, relaxant, improves stress response, sacred, cleansing, meditative
  • Styrax– calming, comforting, sedating, ceremonial, mood lifter, expectorant, affinity for respiratory system

Powdered Aromatics

  • Rosemary– mental stimulant, focus, antibacterial, antioxidant, improves mood, hormone support
  • Lavender– relieves stress, clarity, meditative, cleansing, sleep support, antifungal, antibacterial, shock
  • Lemongrass– releases tension, clarifies communication, stimulating, mental clarity, aids with sleep
  • Juniper berry– strengthens nerves, anti-anxiety, cleansing, spiritual/ceremonial, antiinflammatory, calms rheumatism/neuralgia
  • Cedar needle– respiratory support, sacred, connects, grounds, healing, cleansing, promotes gratitude
  • Douglas fir needle– clears airways, cleansing/purifying, tonic to nervous system, antibacterial, focus
  • Eucalyptus– clears mind, focus, stimulant, relieves stress and fatigue, revitalising
  • Frankincense– helps with pain relief, antiinflammatory, synergy with myrrh, memory, sacred
  • Myrrh– synergy with frankincense, sacred, ceremonial, pain relief, antibacterial, respiratory system
  • Mint– stimulating, helps with decision making, emotional balance, relieves headaaches, memory
  • Rose petal– increases love/compassion, sleep support, anti-anxiety, aphrodesiac, increases confidence
  • White Sage– purifying, sacred/ceremonial, mood booster, symptom relief, improves brain function
  • Thyme– spiritual/ceremonial, antibacterial, cures infection, soothes aches, speeds recovery
  • Oregano-antifungal, increases courage, mood-lifter, anti-anxiety, respiratory support, antiinflammatory
  • Chamomile– aids with sleep, soothes tempers, relieves stress,
  • Mugwort– stimulates dreams, sacred/ceremonial, affinity for nervous system, calms fever/headaches
  • Skullcap– anti-anxiety, soothes skin infections, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, sleep support
  • Pinion resin– healing, balancing, spiritual/ceremonial, meditative, antiseptic, clearing, wound healing
  • Black copal– healing, ceremonial, purification, meditative, anxiolytic, relieves pain from rheumatism
  • Cinnamon– antidepressive, calms nerves, focus, maditative, relaxation, aid for sleep, antiinflammatory, antibacterial
  • Cloves– mental stimulant, boosts creativity, cleanses air of bacteria, increases heat in body
  • Fennel– boosts courage, resolve, stimulant, strengthens (mentally, sexually), healing, purification, aphrodesiac

Binding Agents

  • Marshmallow powder– aphrodesiac, soothing, anti-inflammatory, soothes eczema, wound healing, calms insect bites
  • Tragacanth– stimulates immune system, wound healing, affinity for burns
  • Makko
  • Guargum
  • Slippery Elm powder– wound healing, soothing, affinity for respiratory system, soothes skin issues

The Northwest School of Aromatic Medicine

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