Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Incense Papers (Gift Series #10)

Incense is something we started playing with back in the days of our shop at the renaissance festival. A few years after we closed that shop, we wrote the Storey Country Wisdom Bulletin, Making Your Own Incense in 1999. One of the really fun ways to make incense is Incense Papers. This idea comes from The Complete Book of Incense, Oils & Brews, by Scott Cunningham, and the recipe below is from the book. INCENSE PAPERS
"Incense papers are a delightful variation of combustible incense. Here, rather than using charcoal and gum tragacanth, tinctures and paper are the basic ingredients. When finished you'll have produced several strips of richly scented paper that can be smoldered with a minimum of fuss. 

To make incense papers, take a piece of white blotter paper and cut it into six-inch strips about an inch wide.
Next, add one and one-half teaspoons potassium nitrate to one half cup very warm water. Stir until the saltpeter is completely dissolved.
Soak the paper strips in the saltpeter solution until thoroughly saturated. Hang them up to dry.
You now have paper versions of the charcoal blocks used to burn incense. The obstacle in scenting them is to overcome the normal smell of burning paper. For this reason, heavy fragrances should be used, such as tinctures (ed: resins soaked in alcohol are the resins referred to here). Tinctures compounded from gums and resins seem to produce the best results. I've tried using true essential oils with incense papers but without much success. ....pour a few drops of the tincture onto one strip of paper. Smear this over the paper and add more drops until it is completely coated on one side. Hang the strip up to dry and store in labelled, airtight containers until needed."

This was written quite a while ago. There are some very thick and heavy essential oils, concretes, and absolutes that could be used in this craft - as well as the tinctured resins. I am even thinking about the pine pitch outside, although I cannot figure out how to dry that stuff...

Occasionally (on our website
) it is possible to find "incense matches" that are made with this basic premise, but the matches are imbued with fragrance oils and smolder after being blown out, making them nice for travel, bathrooms, etc.

It makes me think that a sweet little box filled with 1" squares of the incense paper, along with a box of matches, would make a lovely gift.


Maryanne said...

You do sell the booklet, Making Your Own Incense, on your own website, right?
BTW, so many great ideas!

Laura said...

Love love LOVE this post! I remember making incense with you and Maryanne years ago, experimenting with all sorts of wonderful herbs and scents. I didn't know about the Incense Papers. THAT is very cool!

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