Incense sticks have been used for hundreds of years in the East, most notably in India and in Buddhist traditions and while the incense sticks used back then may be significantly different to those that we see today, there is no denying that they remain just as popular.
However, in modern times, these incense sticks can come at quite a cost, especially if you use them a lot. One of the problems is that many people want to make their incense stick last longer, as typically these can lose their aroma very quickly.
But when you buy a bunch of incense sticks, is there really anything you can do to make them last longer? In short, yes there is but you might also consider making your own incense sticks and in this article, we are going to be looking at how you can do this.
What Are Incense Sticks Used For?
Some people may use incense sticks for entertainment purposes, filling the room with the delightful fragrance or passing them as a gift to friends and family. However, there are some that use an incense stick for more profound purposes such as spirituality, healing and to help prevent infections and maintain good health.
In ancient India, these incense sticks were used, and still are today for spiritual rituals and made used of high quality, natural oils such as sandalwood. When the incense is burned, it creates high volumes of smoke which was favoured for healing by Ayurvedic practitioners.
In modern times, in the west, we often use incense sticks in incense burners to fragrance the home. But whether you use an incense burner for the beautiful scents or for the healing properties, one of the biggest gripes of the incense fan is that the scents do not last long enough.
Can You Make Incense Sticks Last Longer?
If you keep a stock of incense sticks, you may notice that these batches can lose their scent over time. The key is to look for incense sticks that have been fragranced with genuine, high quality incense rather than those that have been dipped in cheap fragrance oils.
But another thing that you should also consider is that the way you store your incense sticks can have an effect on how long the scent will last. You should always store them in a sealed contained, in a cool, dry place. The incense sticks should never be exposed to high temperatures or placed in direct sunlight.
The good news is that regardless of how long you keep your incense sticks, they will not expire or be dangerous to use.
There are some people that prefer to use incense cones. There has been some research done on whether these last longer and the results show that both incense cones and incense sticks will burn for about the same length of time, however, the cones may be slower burning due to their shape. That being said, this study also showed that incense sticks may last longer when kept in the correct manner.
Making Your Own Incense Sticks
While it may be easier to pop to the shop and purchase batches of incense sticks thanks to the vast selection on offer, it can be more fruitful to try making incense sticks at home. This method has been proven to make incense sticks that last much longer, what’s more, it is fun.
The first part of the process is to gather everything you will need. A lot of people make the mistake of attempting to use bamboo sticks, but these will not hold the fragrance oils so it is important to use an unscented incense stick which can be purchased online for a very low cost.
You will also need DPG (dipropylene glycol) which is used to reduce the amount of black smoke that an incense stick might produce. Many people may worry that because this is a chemical, it could be toxic but the truth is that DPG is used in making incense sticks and cones as well as many other products that contain scents.
This chemical is often referred to as a refresher oil base. A refresher oil base will not only lower the amount of black smoke that comes from the sticks but it will also help the incense burn in a more efficient way.
You will also need some essential oils, although these are not crucial as you can use fragrance oil as opposed to essential oil. However, essential oils are typically much stronger smelling. What’s more, an essential oil, depending on which oil you use can have a huge number of benefits. The only issue is that essential oils can be a lot pricier than a fragrance oil.
There are a lot of incense recipes that will instruct you to make the incense sticks in batches of five. However, since you are here to discover how to make your incense sticks last longer, it is important to make them in groups of at least twenty to thirty as this will allow you the most strong-smelling results.
Finally, you will need to think about the equipment you will need such as a drying rack, a dish or container that will comfortably fit the incense sticks inside, measuring spoons and rubber gloves to protect your hands.
The first part of the process for making your incense sticks is to place 20ml or 4 teaspoons of DPG into your container. It is important that this is a lipped container and choosing a rectangular shape will be the most beneficial.
Now you will need to take two teaspoons or 10ml of your chosen essential oil. You might use sandalwood, star anise, rose or anything else you love the aroma of. Some people like to use a mixture of 2, 3 or more essential oils. The most important part here is to make sure that all of the essential oil drips into the container to ensure you get the most potent blend.
You would do the same thing if you are using a fragrance oil to create your stick incense.
The next part of this method involves taking each unscented incense stick and placing it into the container to soak in the mixture. You should not put the entire batch of incense sticks into the essential oils blend at once; soaking a smaller number at a time will be better. Usually, aim for around ten. If you find that the incense sticks will not fit in the container, you may trim the wooden bit at the bottom but be mindful not to trim the tips.
You will then need to cover the container, either with a lid or some other type of covering and place them to one side for 24 hours to soak. It is important to note that you should not put the box in direct sunlight as this may have ad adverse effect on the mixture.
Once the time has passed, you will need to remove the incense sticks from the essential oil blend and place them on your drying rack. Making incense sticks is not a fast process, so you will need to be patient and the sticks will need to remain on the drying rack for another 24 hours.
It is important to have air circulating around each stick so don’t be tempted to lie them flat on paper towel. This may also cause a lot of the essential oil blend to soak into the paper.
In some cases, you may find that the sticks take longer to dry and in this case, you can put them somewhere warmer and dryer to speed up the process.
Can I Make One Incense Stick At A Time?
If you do not spend a lot of time burning incense then you may want to make incense sticks in much a smaller number. The good news is that you can make one at a time in the same way that you would make a larger batch.
It is possible to fashion a makeshift container out of aluminum foil and fill this with your essential oils mixture. Once you have soaked one stick, you can save the mixture for another time.
Storing Your Incense Sticks
Once you have soaked the bunch of sticks in the essential oils blend and allowed them to dry, you are ready to burn them. This is often the most exciting part so grab your burner and get ready to experience a long-lasting scent.
One of the most important things to think about after lighting the flame of your first stick is where you will store the rest. Our top tip would always be to store them in a sealed container. You can use anything from an airtight plastic tub to a zip-lock bag.
However, many people will also store them in wax paper which can be very effective. Other types of paper may absorb the scents of the essential oil or fragrance oil but wax won’t have this effect so can help with the lifespan of your sticks.
How To Make Long-Lasting Incense
Incense making is not limited to sticks, many people prefer to use an incense cone but whichever you prefer, there is a process to make them yourself and achieve a long lasting result.
You can try incense making in which you make the scent from scratch using natural ingredients, herbs, spices, woods and other things. There are many recipes for this online but in truth, you will need to experiment to find the perfect mixture for your taste.
If you are going to be making incense to fashion into cones or to use on sticks, you will need to use a coffee grinder to pulverise the raw ingredients, unless you are using a powder form, then you won’t need to worry about this step. However, you should keep in mind that manual grinder is best as electric coffee grinders may generate too much heat or may become damaged by the resins and harder materials.
A top tip for this is to try to include at least one wood or resin as the base of the fragrance, a popular one is sandalwood but the type you choose will depend on your preference, you can then build other scents on top of this.
Once you have blended all of the ingredients together, it is a good idea to allow the mixture to age for a few weeks before using it. This is an important part of the process but if you are in hurry, you can use the blend right away.
Making your own incense this way will give you a much more potent, long-lasting and luxurious result.
When you purchase incense sticks online or from your favourite store, they fragrance is often beautiful but is sometimes not very long lasting. Storing your incense sticks correctly is one of the best ways to make them last as long as possible. But in truth, many mass produced products of this nature are made with cheaper fragrance oils that are designed to stand the test of time.
A great way to tackle this problem is to make your own and the best part about this is that you can choose which aromas you would like to include and make a blend that is entirely unique to you.
There are hundreds of incense stick recipes online, some of which are very complicated and can be challenging to do at home without any specialist equipment. Pretty much everything you need, you will already have such as essential oils, a container and something to dry the sticks on. The only thing that you may need to purchase additionally is a refresher oil base.
Once you have made a bunch of incense sticks, all you need to do is store them in a cool, dry place and reap the beautifully-scented benefits when you are ready to burn them.