For those of you with a little more time on your hands, I will include instructions on how to make your own stick and cone incense. It's messy, it's envolved, but some say it's worth it. You can also make incense papers, they are less mess and fun to do.
Assemble your herbal ingredients. If you are missing one and can't find it in stores or on-line, check the substitutions page on this site. Grind each ingredient individually to a very fine powder, using a mortar & pestle or a coffee bean grinder kept only for grinding herbs. (You don't want to be drinking sandalwood coffee the next morning).
Center yourself and set your mind on the goal of the incense you are creating. In a large non-metallic bowl, mix all the ingredients together with your hands, mixing thier energies together. Visualize your power charging the incense to affect it's goal. Add any essential oil or liquids that are called for in the recipe, just a drop or two is usally enough. If the is a sufficient amount of dry ingredients in the mixture, you may substitute an oil for any herb you lack. You must use essential oil as synthetics smell like burning plastic when smoldered. Empower your incense and store in an air-tight container. Label with name and date.
(stick & cone)
I warned you, it's messy and complex, but here goes...
Purchase a small amonut of powdered Potassium Nitrate (saltpeter) and powdered Gum Tragacanth or powdered Gum Arabic. Gum Tragacanth is the basic ingredient of all molded incenses, but Gum Arabic will work just as well and is easier to find. You will be making a "paste" out of it with water. Place a teaspoon of the powder in a glass of warm water. Mix very well, until all the powder is dissolved into the water. You can also place this in a bowl and whisk with an egg beater or whisk. Foam will rise, but it can be removed or allowed to dissolve. Let set to asorb the water until it turns into a thick, bitter-smelling paste. The consistency you need it will depend on what type of incense you are making. For cones or blocks, you will need a thicker paste. To make sticks, you need it thin enough to dip a skewer into. It's like cooking, you go by feel. After a time or two, you will be able to judge easily. Cover the paste with a wet cloth and set aside. It will continue to thicken as it sits, but you can stir in a bit of water to thin it up.
Mix a cone incense base to add to your paste. You can use this base to mix with the incenses you have made with the recipe for noncombustible incense above. Do not add any incense to the paste mix unless you have mixed it with a base like the one below.
Cone Incense Base
Mix first 3 ingredients until well blended, add oil and mix again. Add 3-5 parts of the completed, powdered incense & mix. Use a small scale and weigh the completed mixture. You will be adding 10 percent potassium nitrate (saltpeter). If you have made 10 ounces of incense, you will need to add 1 ounce saltpeter. The 10 percent is very important, too little, your incense won't burn and too much, it will burn too fast.
Add your incense into a large bowl. Add your paste 1 teaspoon at a time, mixing thoughly with your hands until all ingredients are wetted. For cone or block incense, you will need a very stiff, almost dough-like paste. If it is too thick, it won't form proper cones and will not dry. You are looking for a paste that will mold easily and hold it's shape.
Line a cookie sheet with a sheet of waxed paper and shape small pieces of paste into the basic cone shapes, just like the ones you can buy in stores. Let your cones dry for 2-7 days in a warm place. Empower your incense and store in platic zip-lock bags or in an air-tight jar. Label with name and date.
Rules of Combustible Incense
Incense papers are made using white blotter paper, potassium nitrate (saltpeter) and a tincture made from gums or resins.
Cut a piece of white blotter paper into 6 inch strips about 1 inch wide. Add 1 &1/2 teaspoons saltpeter to 1/2 cup very warm water. Stir very well until the saltpeter is completely dissolved. Soak the strips of paper in the saltpeter solution until thoroughly saturated and hang up to dry.
These are paper versions of the self-igniting charcoal disks you probably use right now. To cover the smell of burning paper, tinctures should be used to scent the strips of paper. Empower the tincture with your magical need, and pour a few drops on the paper. Spread the tincture over the strip and keep adding more drops until the paper is coated on one side. (To find tincture recipes, look under recipes on this site). Hang the strips up to dry. Empower your strips and store in zip-lock bags or in air-tight jars. Label with name and date.
To use incense papers, light the tip of one paper above censer, and after it is completely alight, blow it out. Set the glowing paper in the censer and let it smolder during your ritual or magickal workings. Your papers should burn slowly and release a pleasant scent, results will vary according to the type of paper and strength of the tincture.
Plain unsented papers can be used in place of charcoal blocks, just follow directions above except for the adding of the tincture. Light the paper and place in censer. Sprinkle a thin layer of noncombustible (powder) incense over the paper. It will smolder the incense as it burns.
To keep the paper lit, place it on a heat proof object in the censer, or fill the censer with salt or sand and stick one end into it. It should burn all the way to the end.
I have not tried to make the incense sticks, cones or papers, but the recipes have come from a reliable book, and I wish you the best of luck and joy in creating.
I would like to give credit to my source:
The Complete Book of Incense, Oils
by Scott Cunningham