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In all cultures throughout the world, incense has been used for millenia to cleanse the air of disease, create sacred space, evoke memories and emotions.

Incense can reduce tension and stress, and aid in meditation.

Incense is burned during embalming and funerals.

Burning incense as offerings and gifting is still in use today by most religions.

The bible contains dozens of instructional incense recipes and β€œhow to.” Incense was brought by the wise men to honor the newborn baby Jesus.

In Exodus 30:34/35: Then the Lord said to Moses, β€œTake fragrant spicesβ€”gum resin, onycha and galbanumβ€”and pure frankincense, all in equal amounts, and make a fragrant blend of incense.”

Making natural incense is as easy as a stroll through your garden, forest, or local park. Just follow these easy instructions!

Making natural incense is as easy as noticing the plants that grow around you. Take a walk around your yard and garden, you might find everything you’re looking for to harvest for your own signature incense blend. A walk in the woods is bound to inspire! Breathe in the scents as you pass by plants and trees, they’ll speak to you as long as you are quiet and listen.

Please adapt your incense to the plants you wish to use. There are essential oils in resins in so many plants. Which ones speak to you???

Part 1 –Β Dried herbs, seeds, berries: juniper, hawthorn berries, pine and fir cones, fir and pine needles, yarrow leaves, rose petals, oregano, thyme, cedar leaves, desert sage, calendula flowers, mugwort, moss, lichen, lavender flowers, lomatium seeds, lovage seeds, nutmeg, cloves.

Part 2 – Resins: fir and pine resins, cherry sap, cottonwood leaf buds, sticky pungent leaves such as rosemary, ceanothus red root leaves, garden sage leaves, hops flowers, camphor.

Part 3 –Β Barks, roots, and wood: pine, maple, cottonwood, fir, oak, mugwort twigs, alder, willow, devil’s club, yarrow twigs, cedar root, cinnamon, lavender stems, large leaf avens root.

Part 4 – Binders: honey, hydrosols, dates (process in food processor until paste), red wine, salt, brandy.

To make cones: Powder materials as fine as possible. Add enough binder to make a playdough like consistency. Knead until it holds together. Break off pieces and form into little balls or cones. Allow to dry a few days before burning.

An alternative is to keep the herbs loose. Combine ingredients from each group and allow to dry for several days in the open air. When fully dry, keep in jars. Burn on incense charcoal.

Suzanne "Queen Bee" Tabert 🐝

Suzanne Tabert, bioregional herbalist, speaker, and author, is director of herbal education and herbal mentor at the Cedar Mountain Herb School. An herbal medicine instructor for 35+ years, Suzanne teaches with great passion and excitement, bringing her wealth of herbal knowledge to students in an engaging and vibrant manner. She is the primary instructor at CMHS and an adjunct faculty at Bastyr University. Taking students to wild places and giving them tools to engage and connect with flora, fauna, and the exquisite beauty of nature is the icing on the cake of life, and one way that Suzanne is making a difference in the world, one person, one group at a time. Cedar Mountain Herb School is a member of the American Herbalists Guild, Partnership in Education with United Plant Savers, and the American Herb Association.


  • Niki says:

    Thank you for sharing this. I will absolutely try making some. One of the most wonderful gifts l was ever given was a beautiful (l think African) necklace made from beads of incense and resin. Even more special that it was from a complete stranger who turned up at my party with other friends. It lasted about 20 years before the fragrance left. I still have the necklace and the happy memory though.

    • says:

      You are most welcome! I can almost smell your necklace – what a gift to be given! Have you ever rubbed essential oils on the necklace? They would infuse into the necklace. I will be sharing my rose beads recipe with pictures when the roses bloom again in late spring. Stay tuned!

  • Elsa McCargar says:

    Suzanne! I was just trying to remember how we did this in class some 5-6 years ago. So happy to have found this post! Is there a way to burn this homemade incense on a stick? If so, what kind would you use?

    • Suzanne Tabert says:

      Hello Elsa! I’ve never made stick incense, but I found a really cool YouTube video of a gal making it. Super easy! Here’s the link:
      If you make some stick incense, let me know!

  • Elsa McCargar says:

    I just came back to find you had replied to me – yay! I went with cones, because I was unsure about the stick idea…but I’ll have to try it out now. The cones, however…

    I am having trouble getting them to burn, and it seems as though they are just not dry enough. I can’t fathom, why, though, as I used only dried plant matter (pine needles and bark, pine pitch and yarrow all powdered), then air dried them for days and days and then tried a dehydrator after that. Could it be the honey I used as a binder, that it just stays sticky endlessly? Any tips? I can’t remember having this trouble with the ones I made in class. What’s the best binder in your experience? Thanks Suzanne!

    • Suzanne Queen Bee Tabert says:

      Hmmmmmmmb. Perhaps too much honey? From your question, it seems that they are sticky? They should feel very hard, yet dry.

      • Elsa McCargar says:

        I guess I’ll have to fiddle with ratios…I added as much honey as it seemed I needed to get them to hold together. Are proportions of leafy to woody to resinous plants important, in your experience, or can you use them all freely? Thanks Suzanne!

        • Suzanne "Queen Bee" Tabert says:

          ‘Ello, love! Less is more with the honey as the plant material soaks up the honey. It can be deceptive and easy to add too much. I’d say add a bit of honey – less than you think you’d need – and let is sit a couple hours, then check to make sure the incense then holds together. You can always add more honey if need be. For the incense you have, you might want to add more plant material. Try powdering some of the resin and leaves. That might do the trick to take away the stickiness and allow the incense to hold together in cones. xxoo

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