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aromatherapy 101


In addition to being the least expensive way to perfume your home, incense can be used to scent clothing, paper, and books. Incense is an easy-to-make combination of powdered resins, spices, and woods that can be burned on unscented charcoal briquettes.

Incense charcoal, available in stores selling religious materials, is treated to ignite easily and burn streadily. These briquettes have a tendency to spark, so it is best to hold them with tweezers when lighting them. Place the charcoal on a china plate or some other heat resistant surface and dust the powder evenly over the surface. You may need to dust the coals again later to guarantee a steady release of fragrance.

A simple recipe for incense powder is an equal proportion of frankincense and myrrh. You may want to experiment and add an equal amount of sandalwood or cinnamon. Let your own sense of smell be your guide.

Paper, clothing, and books can be scented by placing them above the incense brazier in a small room. If it is possible, carefully drape a blanket so the smoke is concentrated but oxygen can still reach the briquette. The charcoal will burn through in about an hour.

It is possible to make your own incense cones, but it can be a messy job. Grind high-quality wood charcoal and combine 12 parts charcoal to one part potassium nitrate (nitre or saltpeter). The potassium nitrate will readily ignite and burn evenly. Add up to 12 parts: powdered spices, resins, woods, and oils. Blend in two parts tragacanth gum, a binding agent, and slowly add water until the powder has a consistent dough-like texture. Shape the dough into cones and allow them to dry before burning them. If incense is too strong for your taste and you find it is too much work to make it, you may want to scent candles instead. It is easy to make scented candles by following a standard candlemaking procedure and using essential oils for fragrance.


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