In the following pictures, I will guide you through my first attempt at making incense. My friend, Hazel, from an online soap-making group was gracious enough to furnish me with the basic supplies. Kits with all of the ingredients included are available for 26.00 dollars online from Nature's Garden, a well know fragrance supply company: http://www.naturesgardencandles.com/candlemaking-soap-supplies/item/kit-40/-*Incense-Making-Kit.html
The beginner kit includes unscented sticks, cones, fragrance, and DPG. Wait...what is DPG and why do we need it? Dipropylene Glycol is a solvent used to cut the fragrance oil, so that it absorbs into the sticks and dries out faster. Pure fragrance is oil based and very viscous, if it is not cut with a solvent, your incense will be moist with a high oil content and be extremely smoky.
Here is what Wikipedia says about DPG, "Dipropylene glycol finds many uses as a plasticizer, an intermediate in industrial chemical reactions, as a polymerization initiator or monomer, and as a solvent. Its low toxicity and solvent properties make it an ideal additive for perfumes and skin and hair care products. It is also a common ingredient in commercial fog fluid, used in entertainment industry smoke and haze machines."
In order to make the incense, we need to first gather our materials, sticks, fragrance, DPG, and shallow container where we can lay the sticks flat to soap in the fragrance solution. Next, we need to prepare the fragrance solution. That is done by mixing 2 parts DPG to 1 part fragrance oil. Make sure you are using uncut fragrance oil from a reputable supplier that is suitable for making candles. Check your supplier specifications if you are unsure.
For my fragrance blend, I used a combination of Moonworks ancient incense and NDA tahitian vanilla. I thought that is was a little sweet and missing some depth, so I also added some vetiver fragrance oil (not the essential) from Southern Soapers. I ended up with a combination of 6oz of DPG and 3 oz of my fragrance oil blend (vanilla, vetiver, ancient incense). Smooth, sweet, and intoxicating!
Next, I laid the sticks flat in the bottom of the shallow container and poured the DPG/fragrance solution over the sticks. Here they are soaking.
Currently, the sticks have been soaking for 24 hours; however, they are not quite ready yet. According to expert tips, the best aroma is achieved by soaking for 48 hours, then removing the sticks and laying them flat on a layer of paper towels until they are dry to the touch. The sticks are coated with packed sawdust to absorb the fragrance and the DPG solvent allows it to sink into the wood and evaporate faster. This last pictures shows the sticks right now in the solution. It has gotten dark and thick as some of the wood particles from the sticks break off and the DPG solvent evaporates. Tomorrow, I will remove the sticks and dry them in open air until they are ready to test.
Note: Moonworks and NDA (New Directions Aromatics) are two suppliers of candle and soap making fragrance oils. You can combine fragrance oils from different suppliers with the ones included in the beginner's kit, as long as they are designated safe for making candles and are undiluted.
While I do not yet sell any incense, you can find Mylana handmade soaps in candles in my etsy shop: http://www.etsy.com/shop/Mylana