Burning Resin and Herbs

by Kate

Charcoal

Burning Resins on Charcoal

Most people are used to burning what is now considered normal incense. You simply light the end of a pre-rolled scented stick or cone, set it in a burner and voila! However, before people burned incense that was pre-made, they burned herbs and resins and hot coals or rocks. It may seem surprisingly simple once you’ve learned how but many of our customers still are unsure of how to burn resin and herbs as incense. This easy tutorial will get you on the fast track to aromatic nirvana in no time!

Items needed:

  • Resins/Herbs
  • Charcoal Tablets
  • Burner (Holder)
  • Lighter

Resins and Herbs

Resins are basically pieces of hardened tree sap. Do you know the story of the three magi who brought Frankincense and Myrrh to celebrate the birth of Christ? These resins were highly valued for not only their aromatic qualities but for their medicinal healing properties as well. At the time, they were worth their weight in gold! Don’t worry. You don’t have to spend a fortune these days to enjoy such rich aromas. We carry both frankincense and myrhh for just $2.95 an ounce, as well Dragon’s Blood, a variety of Copals, Benzoin and more!. Each of these resins have their own enchanting scent and healing properties.

Many people have familiarity with basic kitchen/cooking herbs, but did you know they make great incense as well? Burning herbs and dried flowers like lavender, cinnamon, rose as well as many others can set a wonderful ambiance in one’s home. Herbs and resins can be mixed together to create personalized signature scents or to make incense with magical intentions. (Keep reading for recipes!)

Charcoal Tablets

This is the ingredient many people are unfamiliar with. You do not want to burn charcoal you would use in a BBQ grill in your home! SwiftLite Charcoal mini tablets are made with the specific purpose of burning indoors.(Available at Earth Lore: $2.95) Because charcoal emits carbon monoxide when burned, it is important to only use these smaller tablets in a well ventilated area. They are easy to use and considered generally safe when used in the manner described. However, always remember when burning anything: A little common sense goes a long way! (i.e. Don’t burn in closet with the door closed. Don’t set on a windowsill without first securing curtains.)

Burners (Incense Holders)

Burners can be a bowl, urn or a plate. Anything that can withstand the heat will work but its best to purchase something designed with burning incense in mind. I recommend burning in a bowl with silica sand (only $0.29 per bag!) for a variety of reasons. First the sand absorbs some of the heat of the charcoal, which reduces the likelihood of the burner scorching the table/counter its sitting on. (Never set a burner on or near something flamable, like say Gramma’s favorite chair. Always place away from pets, children and others who may not realize its burning.) Second, when using a decorative bowl filled with sand, it doubles as a regular incense holder for both sticks and cones. Its easy to clean. (Extinguish anything still burning. Dump out sand. Refill bowl.) Earth Lore carries a wide selection of burners to compliment any décor.

How to Burn Incense on Charcoal:

  1. Hold charcoal tablet in air. (Although I personally use my hands, I do not recommend this. Only fools play with fire. 🙂 Its best to use some type of tongs or pliers.)  The reason you do this is to allow air to flow around the charcoal – othewise, it may extinguish itself before it gets lit.
  2. Hold flame for about 20 seconds on either side of charcoal. Matches will do in a pinch but lighters work better. They can be difficult to light while sitting in the burner.  You will probably see it spark a little bit – this means it’s self-igniting like it’s supposed to.  Once you’ve lit it, set it down! It will get very hot. VERY.
  3. Wait for a minute or two to allow charcoal to fully ignite and warm up. You’ll notice ash along the edges. Its ready!
  4. Place just a pinch or your resin, herb or homemade mixture onto charcoal. No, really just a pinch! You don’t want to extinguish it. If you’re planning on using several herbs/resins; crush and mix them first. A small pinch can scent a whole room for hours.
  5. Make sure to reseal any left overs for use at a later time. (Hey, an excuse to buy a pretty decorative box to store supplies in! 🙂

Enjoy! I find writing down my experiments with resins to be helpful in creating recipes.

Protection Incense:

  • 1 part Frankincense
  • 1 part Sandalwood
  • ½ part Rosemary
  • ½ part White Sage

Get Me Out of this Recession Incense:

  • 1 part Cinnamon
  • 1 part Benzoin
  • ½ part Patchouli
  • ½ part Ginger

Seriously Sexy Confidence Incense:

  • 2 parts Dragon’s Blood
  • 1 part Rose Petals
  • 1 part Lavender
  • ½ part Jasmine

All of these ingredients and more can be found on our herb rack. I suggest reading Cunningham’s Complete Book of Incense Oils and Brews for more recipes. Most of our herbs are $2.95 per ounce. In addition to making your own incense, we also carry a new line of resin incenses that are premixed for spiritual and aromatic pleasure: Majesty Incense. These come in conveniently packaged tins filled with 1.5 ounces of incenses. Majesty Incense are only available at our Plymouth location. Scents include Frankincense, Myrrh, Frankincense & Myrrh, Celtic Blend, Three Kings, and Gloria.

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