herbal incense information iii/iii

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  - Tools, Methods, and Recipes -
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"The recipes that follow are simply examples of what's possible. You can apply the basic methods and proportions to the creation of your own [scents]. You'll want to keep a journal of your formulations, lest the perfect blend be created only once! "You'll need a blender, a wooden spoon, a bowl or two, and a set of measuring spoons and cups. Be aware that porous utensils may take up some scents from your aromatic ingredients. Brown paper will protect your work surfaces, and a wooden board can serve as a drying surface.

"The volume of aromatic substances should be about twice that of the base, and all dry ingredients should be powdered. Use about three parts liquid to five parts dry mixture. Besides changing the bonding agent from a dry powder into a glue, the liquid also serves to dissolve the potassium nitrate." "For each recipe except the loose incense, mix together liquid and potassium nitrate and add enough tragacanth to make a thick paste (start with 1 teaspoon and add more as needed). Then stir in the blended dry ingredients. If the dough is too soft, add more tragacanth powder; if too dry, add more liquid. The consistency should be like that of soft putty or moist dough - neither too runny nor too dry to be easily shaped.

"You may shape prepared incense dough into all manner of cones, cylinders, or coils or roll it onto sticks. Bamboo skewers split lengthwise with a razor blade make suitable sticks. After forming cones, cylinders, and coils, place them on a wooden board and set them aside to dry in a sunny window, a warm attic, or even a closed vehicle on a hot day. Avoid humidity, which will make your incense mildew. When drying stick incense, poke the lower ends of the sticks into a piece of clay or styrofoam.

"When the incense is thoroughly dry, store it in airtight containers.

Dark, dry conditions will help to preserve color and scent." "Loose incense consists of dry ingredients which are simply mixed together and sprinkled over smoldering charcoal. Store as you would other kinds of incense.

"...charcoal is referred to as a base ingredient, a coloring agent, and the smoldering heat source for loose incense. Most books recommend willow charcoal (available from incense suppliers), but any charcoal can be used. The briquettes that are made for use in barbecue grills are suitable unless they have been impregnated with lighter fluid or other chemicals to enhance burning.

"Most people can make and use incense with no untoward effects, but some, especially those with hay fever, asthma, or certain skin problems, may have adverse reactions to the ingredients or the smoke.

And be aware of the fire hazard when using incense: smoldering incense improperly contained can ignite your furniture, drapes, or other flammable things in the home. It's best to keep incense and fire out of the reach of children." "Simple and exquisite incense from the Native American tradition can be enjoyed by growing and/or gathering special herbs from the wild.

Sprigs of sage (Salvia apiana or S. officinalis) and cedar (Juniperus virginiana) can be bound together with cotton string into a cigar-shaped smudge stick, which is then burned a bit at a time.

"Clumps of sweet grass (Hierochloe odorata) may be pulled up by the roots and hung, roots up, to dry. The blades are then braided and burned a little at a time..."

~ Excelsior Incense Works/1413 Van Dyke Ave./San Francisco, CA 94124.

Complete incense supplies.

~ Hill Woman Productions/Box 317 Cross Island/Fineview, NY 13640.

Top-quality charcoal, oils, powdered herbs, and hand-blended incense.

~ Matchless Gifts/Box 7855/Laguna Niguel, CA 92607-7855. Complete incense supplies.

Excerpted from Sandy Maine's "Herbal Incense" article in "The Herb Companion." Dec. 1992/Jan. 1993, Vol. 5, No. 2. Pp. 37-38, 40.

Posted by Cathy Harned.

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