I don’t know about you, but I love incense (it hides a multitude of house wifely sins). We have many, many animals living in our humpy, both by invitation and without; we have the chooks and ducks in the ICU (Intensive Care Unit) who are inside while being healed from various bodily woes, or are long term guests because of an injury or birth defect, we also have an indoor aviary that houses many small birds (rescued and found) who can’t be released for one reason or another and we have three dogs who are no longer young, we have skinks, geckos, mice and the odd snake, finally we have three humans (who may be the smelliest of all). Although the animal enclosures are cleaned regularly (daily for the messier ones) and we do our best to keep our own mess under control, the humpy still smells like a zoo (naturally). So, every now and then I like to burn a heap of incense to lighten the mood.
Incense is expensive and I am never sure what it is made from, so I guess it is time to find out how to make my own. I have been making loose incense for many years, but that requires a charcoal block to burn it on. Charcoal blocks can be hard to find in our area and tend to absorb moisture from the air and be hard to light. Incense cones seem like the obvious solution, and they can just be set on a plate and lit, so are convenient too.
I found this easy to adjust recipe at Permacrafters.com and decided to give it a go as it uses easy to find in my kitchen/garden ingredients.
Traditionally, incense is made by mixing herbs, resins and oils with a powder called makko (which is made from the bark of several trees). I haven’t got any makko as it isn’t used in making loose incense, but I feel that the ingredients need a bulking and binding agent to help make my cones. This is (of course) different from the recipe. The principle attribute of makko powder is that it is made from an easily combustible bark that does not smell strongly when burned. I reasoned that gum tree bark is also very combustible (as the annual bushfires prove) and the smoke has a pleasant smell. I trotted off outside and picked up some shed gum tree bark.
This bark was popped into my trusty coffee grinder (which needed a good scrub after the ordeal) and ground into powder. Ta Da!!!, true Australian makko.
Next I ground up my incense in the coffee grinder;
5 tspn makko
1 tspn frankincense gum
1/2 tspn acacia gum
1 tspn cinnamon powder
1 tspn cloves
2 tspn dried rosemary leaves
Then I added;
2 tspn raw honey
3 tspn water (I added the water a tspn at a time and mix until I could see the consistency)
The mixture was kneaded in the little bowl until it could be formed into cone shapes that stick together well. This lot made 12 cones of fairly large size.
I left the little cones on a tray to dry out in the kitchen. They apparently take a week to dry enough to use and need to dry very slowly to avoid crumbling.
They smell like honey and cinnamon sitting on their tray, a not unpleasant smell to have hanging around the kitchen. I hope they smell as nice when they are burned.
I know the recipe is different from the one I found, I really just used that as a guide to make my own recipe.
I will post a note here to let you know what the results are…
I couldn’t wait, after just one night I decided to try out the incense. It took a long time to light up (probably because it’s not fully dry yet) and had to be relit twice. The smell is really pleasant, weirdly it smells sort of vanilla like, I really like it. The gum tree bark doesn’t add a bushfire smell to the incense, so I think that is a success. I guess I will have to wait a few more days to see if the extra drying time will make it easier to light.