FAQ and Info

Questions to the Maker...

What Made You Decide To make Incense? Is it Difficult?


The inspiration to make incense came in 2017. I never intended to create an incense business, I only wanted to see if I could make the incense I had always wanted. I had no idea what I was getting into! I meditated and the formulations came, and the energy grew and I became completely immersed in the project, spending several hours each day perfecting the blends and doing small test batches. When I began ramping up production the real challenges came. On several occasions I lost large, expensive batches of incense to production issues. But I noticed something interesting happening. Shortly after my 'failures', I would feel this surge of energy to solve the problems and move on. It was as if something other than me was providing the energy and solutions to continue. From an outsiders view I probably seemed obsessed. For me, I was simply riding the wave of doing what I was inspired to do. I have learned so much and come so far but mastering this delicate and complex craft will never end. I appreciate your questions and support. Please feel free to contact me anytime... info@incensealchemy.com or call. 406-360-6111




What is the Difference Between Incense and Essential Oils?


The main difference is that essential oils contain only the extracted oils from the plant material and incense contains the whole leaf, wood, bark, etc.. Incense is burned to unlock and distribute its essence whereas essential oils are generally diluted and sprayed or applied topically. Some incense includes essential oils as a component of the incense but caution should be taken when purchasing this kind of incense as there are typically chemical solvents used in this process.




Why is there no stick inside?


Most incense sold in the U.S. is made on pre-made blanks that are machine made in India or China. They are very inexpensive and form a base to either dip in essential oils or add your own aromatics. The problem is that pre-made blanks are almost always made with toxic and/or inferior ingredients and strong artificial fragrances to mask the impurities. The bamboo stick also adds unnecessary smoke, diluting the purity of the precious resins and herbs. Additionally, it takes more heat to burn the bamboo stick, so synthetic combustion agents are used (potassium/sodium nitrate). Finding reputable sources of quality blanks is nearly impossible and availability is inconsistent.
In order to continue I had to decide whether to use these inferior products and methods or learn the art of incense from the ground up.




Why is Natural Important?


On the surface this seems like a simple question, but with incense there are some important things you should be aware of. Over time as incense has become commercialized, the quality has been degraded significantly to produce the cheapest, fastest product possible. Approximately 95 percent of incense available in North America is now made with synthetic ingredients. Artificial fragrances, industrial solvents, and toxic combustion agents are the norm. There are no labeling requirements and there is huge business in making the cheapest product possible. Beyond the surface of pretty packages there are few redeeming qualities in most incense. There are quaity products available, but without significant research its difficult to know what is safe to burn. If theyre not telling you its natural or if you get a strong aroma outside of the package its probably not natural. Here are some common signs to look for:

  • Inexpensive: with a few exceptions, the mass production of incense has resulted in inferior products to meet market demands of strong fragrances and cheap prices. Producing natural incense is an art and requires time and skill.
  • Strong aroma through packaging. Most natural materials do not have strong aroma before being burned. Beware of incense that you can smell strongly through the packaging. Synthetic fragrangrances tend to be irritating to the senses and can be toxic when burned. Additionally, there is no redeeming energetic healing component to synthetics. Essential oils are natural but when used in incense are almost always cut with industrail solvents to aid in making the incense. See more on this in sticks on bamboo core.
  • Sticks with bamboo core: This type of incense is inherently fine and a traditional way to make quality incense. The bamboo stick creates a support for the aromatics and gives strength to avoid breakage. The problem is that most of this style of incense is made from pre-made blanks that are purchased on amazon or ebay for very cheap. There is zero transparency as to ingredients and there are no labeling requirements. They contain inferior woods, binders, adhesives, and synthetic burning agents. People unwittingly buy these "blank" sticks and then add their own aromatics such as resins or essential oils to create their own incense brands. This is predominantly what is on the shelves in North America being sold as natural with beautiful holistic looking packaging. There are quality products out there, but discernment and eduction is key if you want clean incense.
  • Transparency: If a company does not claim to be using natural ingredients I assume they are not. I have seen popular brands that claim to be natural that I am very skeptical about, and with no labeling requirements its hard to tell. Look into the company; do they have a website, do they give details of contents or just say the word 'natural' with pretty pictures to imply it. Do not be gullible to misleading advertising.
  • Truly natural incense is made with ingredients that have been used for centuries for relaxation, healing and well being. There is no comparison to natures ability to bring balance and harmony into our lives.




What Kind of Incense Burner works Best with this Incense?


A simple bowl filled with sand or white ash. Light the tip of your incense and allow to burn for a moment then blow out. Place the incense just deeply enough in the sand to make it stand straight without tipping over. Remember that any portion submerged will not burn. Using Japanese white ash instead of sand allows the entire stick to burn, even the submerged part.




Do You Offer Wholesale?


I am offering wholesale to select retail shops. Please inquire by messaging me at info@incensealchemy.com or call 406-360-6111




How Do You Make Your Incense?


First, I powder all ingredients and sift them through a very fine mesh screen. Then the materials are combined and aged. I combine water and the herb mixture to make a dough like ball that is extruded, cut to length, and set on racks to dry. Drying takes between two and four days typically, and is the most critical time for the incense. It must not dry too quickly or too slowly to avoid complications. Once dry, the incense is bundled, packaged and iready for sale. Every step of the process requires close attention to detail and is a delicate process. There is little information available as to the processes of production, so its required many months of trial and error. Additionally, since you can't just go buy the tools to make this kind of incense, I have designed and made the extruders, drying racks, cutting boards, and necessary tools.





Incense Alchemy

Denver, Colorado

Michael Cutter

T:   406-360-6111

E:  info@incensealchemy.com

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